Someone's "0" has to go.
WBA junior welterweight champion Khabib Allakhverdiev (19-0, 9 KO) will defend his title against Jessie Vargas (23-0, 9 KO) on Saturday at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
The bout is the most hyped preliminary fight on the Timothy Bradley-Manny Pacquiao 2 card.
Though neither man is a household name, whenever two undefeated fighters clash with a world title on the line, there's at least some intrigue amongst the boxing community.
Here's how you can catch the entire card.
Where: MGM Grand in Las Vegas
When: Saturday, April 12. Card begins at 9 p.m. ET
TV: HBO pay-per-view
The Book on Allakhverdiev
The 31-year-old Russian champion didn't exactly win his crown in the most impressive fashion. Allakhverdiev captured the vacant WBA title by defeating Joan Guzman in November 2012.
The ending to the fight was somewhat controversial.
Guzman injured his knee as a result of an accidental foul from Allakhverdiev, per BoxRec. Guzman couldn't continue and the fight went to the scorecards.
Allakhverdiev won a narrow decision when two of the three judges had him up 76-75 at the time of the stoppage. The other judge had the same score but in favor of Guzman.
Even Allakhverdiev's status as champion is a bit of a hot-button issue. These days, some of the major boxing organizations acknowledge more than one champion per weight class.
Though Danny Garcia's is the most-recognized WBA junior welterweight title, he is simply given the title of "super champion." Allakhverdiev is the "regular" champion.
Seriously, I wish I was making this up.
Bleacher Report boxing writer Briggs Seekins seemingly shares the same sentiments:
Khabib Allakhverdiev is the WBA 'regular' world champion at light welterweight. But this is typical buffoonery from the WBA, which already has a world champion at 140 pounds: Danny Garcia.
The WBA can call Garcia the 'super' world champion if it wants to. For all I care, it can call him the 'super-duper, most excellent' world champion. As a boxing writer, I'm still unwilling to recognize more than one of an alphabet-soup organization's world champions per division.
Allakhverdiev is obviously hoping for a more decisive and impressive victory on Saturday. He'd also like to be considered "super" at some point as opposed to just "regular."
Since defeating Guzman, Allakhverdiev has only fought once. In July 2013, he stopped Souleymane M'baye in the 11th round to retain his title. Though not known as a knockout fighter throughout his career, Allakhverdiev has stopped three of his last four opponents.
Because he is in need of an attention-grabbing performance, don't be surprised to see him push the pace to put pressure on Vargas on Saturday.
Allakhverdiev talked about being aggressive with Vargas in an interview with Boxing Scene's Ryan Burton, saying, "This should be a really good fight for the fans. I want to be aggressive and he wants to be aggressive. Nobody is running in this fight. We will both be in there fighting and the fans will get a really good fight."
The Book on Vargas
At one point, Vargas was a member of Floyd Mayweather Jr.'s camp, but he left for Bob Arum's Top Rank in 2012. Once thought to be a rising star, Vargas' career seems to have hit a point of stagnation.
A win on Saturday would be realization of his potential.
This is his first world-title fight, so he could be anxious to finally get a shot at competing for one of the sport's top prizes.
Though he began his career as a junior welterweight, Vargas' previous six fights came as a welterweight. He is returning to 140 pounds for this fight.
He told Burton he feels stronger at 140 pounds. Vargas also added, "I didn't have the knowledge on how to lose the weight properly before and now I do. I am feeling great. I am walking around in the welterweight division right now so it is going great."
Will the drop in weight lead Vargas to his first world title?
Vargas is the quicker, longer fighter. He stands 5'10" while Allakhverdiev is 5'8". Also, Vargas has a three-inch reach advantage (71" to 68").
The great equalizer in this equation could be timing and punching power. Allakhverdiev is a skilled counterpuncher, but there's a real question as to whether he has the power to stop a fighter whose body is used to competing at 147 pounds.
Vargas is a tough young fighter, and he has waited a long time for a chance to fight for a world title. He's coming into this bout to compete and win.
Expect a tough and entertaining bout, but Vargas' physical advantages will push him to a unanimous-decision victory.
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