Talking Boxing

Interviews, opinions, features and news from the greatest sport in the world!

November 28, 2016

Who is Artur Akavov?

Enzo Maccarinelli

Artur Akavov is nicknamed "Wolverine" due to his resemblance to Hugh Jackman in the X-Men movies.

by Rian Scalia

“All that is part of a misunderstanding and lack of communication between Frank Warren’s promotion and Akavov’s promoter Lou DiBella. Artur was ready and able to fight on October 22 and then November 26, and he’ll be 100% ready on December 3rd. Boxing is a funny business and much like politics, full of surprises. Our team will be ready no matter what goes down prior to the fight. Once the lights go on, Saunders’ lights will go out.”

That was what Artur Akavov’s manager, Alex Vaysfeld, had to say to Talking Boxing regarding yet another postponement of the fight between his fighter and WBO middleweight world champion Billy Joe Saunders. The fight, originally scheduled for the Motorpoint Arena in Cardiff on Saturday night (November 26), will now head to a Leisure Centre in Scotland this Saturday night (December 3).

It’s not what Akavov or Saunders would have wanted, but the Russian’s team seems confident no matter what the case.

Akavov comes into the fight as a relative unknown to anyone who isn’t an extremely hardcore boxing fan that watches anything and everything. With a (16-1, 7 KOs) record lacking any notable names, it’s a huge step up to fight for a world title against an undefeated champion. But it may be the best moment to take the leap, as Saunders hasn’t fought in almost a year, being plagued by injuries.

The Russian, who goes by the moniker of “Wolverine” due to his resemblance to Hugh Jackman in the X-Men movies, is not a fighter who can be judged just by taking a look at his record. A southpaw with a lot of amateur experience, he’s plied his trade in obscurity, doing enough to get ranked as high as fourth in the WBO at one point. He now sits at the #12 spot.

Starting boxing at the age of 15, he rose through the ranks of the Russian amateur system, but not high enough to get onto the national team. It was then that he made the switch to Estonia, fighting around the world at major tournaments including the European and World Championships. Though never medalling at any major outings, he compiled an amateur record of 97-21, with a 22-7 record internationally.

The decision to go pro was made after rule changes were made requiring fighters to be citizens of the countries they’re representing. He debuted in 2010 but due to problems with his opponents’ documents, an official pro debut didn’t take place until March 2011.

Aside from an eight round unanimous decision loss (against Oleg Liseev) – that Akavov credits to inexperience – the rest of his pro career has been unblemished, almost by default due to the opposition that he’s fought. He was outweighed by seven pounds at the weigh-in for that fight.

On watching him, it’s clear that he is at the very least a decent fighter. An aggressive southpaw, Akavov gets in and out with his punches quickly, going to the head and body. Despite the lack of knockouts on his record, all seven of his stoppage wins have come in his last eight fights, suggesting that he’s adapted more of a professional approach as he’s piled up more experience.

Stalky and thickly muscled, he is often the shorter man in the ring and Saunders won’t have much of a height advantage.

The postponements may favour the Russian, who originally only took the fight with about a month or so to spare. He’ll have had an extra few months to prepare.

Saunders of course will be the big favourite, but if he isn’t in top form he could have some problems here. In an all-southpaw match-up, this figures to be the type of style that he would do well against, especially being the more refined and talented boxer.

Nonetheless, this is Akavov’s shot to make a name for himself, even if he loses. If he puts up a good showing, a bunch of opportunities will open up. He won’t be there to simply make up the numbers.