Khabib Allakhverdiev vs. Souleymane M'baye: Preview, Prediction for Title Fight
The WBA junior welterweight title will be on the line this Saturday night in Monte Carlo when champion Khabib Allakhverdiev defends his belt against Souleymane M'baye.
Allakhverdiev, who won his title late last year, is undefeated in 18 professional bouts. He has some recognizable names on his resume, but he has yet to face a fighter one would consider a threat. He won the vacant strap by defeating former three-division champion Joan Guzman.
M'baye, a former WBA junior welterweight champion in his own right, has been fairly inactive of late. The 38-year-old has only fought twice since 2010, and he lost one of those bouts, so it's difficult to see how he earned a title shot.
But it's boxing, and you never know how things will play out. Read on for a complete preview and prediction for this Saturday's title fight!
Tale of the Tape
A few things stick out when comparing these two combatants.
M'baye possesses advantages in height, reach and in-ring experience. He's the far more experienced fighter, although it's been a while since he's competed on a world-class level.
The 30-year-old Allakhverdiev is eight years younger than M'baye and is definitely the fresher, less shop-worn fighter. That alone should provide him with a substantial advantage come Saturday night.
18-0, 8 KO
40-4-1, 22 KO
|Hometown:||Kaspiysk, Russia||Clichy, Hauts-de-Seine, France
He won his world championship by defeating former three-division champion Joan Guzman late last year. He also holds victories over Nate Campbell and Kaizer Mabuza, but neither of those fighters were in their primes when he beat them.
Allakhverdiev will be making the first defense of his title and will enter the ring as a heavy favorite to retain. It should really only come down to how impressively he wins. M'baye is shop-worn and hasn't been active the past several years.
This is really a lose-lose situation for the Russian. He's supposed to win, but a loss would be devastating.
M'baye has won just once since 2010. That win came earlier this year against an unknown fighter with a 7-11 professional record. It wasn't exactly a world-class victory.
He's definitely the more experienced of the two fighters, although he might be too far past his best to make that matter much. If he does have something left in the tank, he could exploit that and take the younger man into deep water.
But in reality, this is more a measuring-stick fight for the champion and a payday for the challenger.
Allakhverdiev loves to engage his opponent and goes to the body with bad intentions. He's relatively inexperienced, with just 18 pro fights under his belt, but you'd never know it given how poised and relaxed he is in the ring.
Allakhverdiev likes to fight on the inside, where he can use his quickness to land big shots. That's where he's the most dangerous and where he likes to keep the fight. He's highly aggressive, and despite his lack of one-punch knockout power, he's a good finisher.
He enters the ring with a wealth of championship-level experience. He's had seven world title fights in his career, and he's a former WBA junior welterweight champion in his own right. He's seen and done things his younger foe has only heard about at this relatively early stage of his career.
Despite being 38 years old and relatively inactive the past few years, M'baye has never really been in a tough fight. That makes him a little less shop-worn than you'd expect from a fighter of his age and experience.
Allakhverdiev is the type of fighter who throws all his shots with the intent to harm. But one of his biggest problems is the lack of serious one-punch power.
He's only knocked out eight of his first 18 opponents, and he will be facing an opponent whose only loss inside the distance was due to injury.
Allakhverdiev is much quicker on the inside than he is at distance. A fighter who commands the ring and keeps the fight on the outside could cause him trouble. He also has a bad tendency to paw with his jab, rather than throw it with conviction, which makes it harder to set up his power punches.
M'Baye has been relatively inactive of late. He's only fought once since losing to Ismael El Massoudi by 12th-round TKO (due to injury) in 2011. Earlier this year he defeated the unknown Laszlo Haaz, who entered with a record of 7-11, by second-round knockout.
M'baye is 38 years old now and hasn't been in with a world-class fighter since 2010. The last time he ventured down to 140 pounds was back in 2008.
It's hard to know what, if anything, he has left in the tank.
Khabib Allakhverdiev Will Win If...
Is just showing up enough?
Khabib Allakhverdiev will enter this bout as the overwhelming favorite to retain his title. He's younger, sharper and more active than his opponent.
It would be in his best interests to make sure this fight takes place on the inside, where he can use his quickness, combination punching and aggression to his advantage.
Souleymane M'baye is very durable, his only knockout loss was due to injury, and he's going to look to win the fight from the outside. Allakhverdiev doesn't want to fight that way, and he will have a much easier time outworking his opponent than trying to win a tactical boxing match.
He'll need to attack to win, and that's exactly what he'll do.
Souleymane M'baye Will Win If...
It's difficult to see how Souleymane M'baye can pull off the upset in this fight.
He's only boxed two rounds in the past two years—against a low-level opponent. He should struggle with his opponent's aggression.
The best chance he has is to make this into a pure boxing match. Khabib Allakhverdiev is an inside fighter, and he's not comfortable fighting from a distance. If M'baye is able to use his height and box effectively, he could frustrate his younger opponent.
A slick, disciplined boxer could potentially disrupt Allakhverdiev's rhythm and force him out of his comfort zone. That's definitely M'baye's style and his best path to victory.
It's just doubtful that he'll be able to keep the Russian off of him for the full 12 rounds.
And the Winner Is...
This just seems like one of those fights that should never happen. Khabib Allakhverdiev really doesn't gain anything from a win, short of another second-tier name on his resume, and a loss would be devastating.
Luckily for him, the latter isn't going to happen.
The Russian fighter will be aggressive from the opening bell and will put a ton of pressure on his opponent. Souleymane M'baye won't roll over, but he's 38 years old now and can't match the champion's aggression. He'll try to box, but he doesn't have the firepower to control the distance for three minutes of each round.
Allakhverdiev will make this a war on the inside, where he's clearly the superior fighter at this stage, and will pound out a clear unanimous decision.
Khabib Allakhverdiev UD 12 (117-111)