Dmitry Pirog will defend his WBO middleweight title against Nobuhiro Ishida on May 1 in Russia, with the fight officially signed today, according to BoxingScene.com.
There's absolutely no getting around calling this a weak title defense, but what can you do? Pirog (19-0, 15 KO) has taken zero risks since beating unproven Danny Jacobs in what was considered an upset at the time in July 2010. It was a fight designed for Golden Boy's prospect Jacobs to win the vacant belt, but instead Pirog proved to be too much for him.
Since then, Pirog has made grandstanding callouts (or his team has, anyway) and stayed in Russia fighting the likes of Javier Maciel, Gennady Martirosyan, and now Nobuhiro Ishida. Ishida (24-7-2, 9 KO) just lost badly on February 18 in a junior middleweight bout against Paul Williams.
The one silver lining is that there have been negotiations with HBO to stage a Pirog vs Daniel Geale title unification bout later this year. With Sergio Martinez and Julio Cesar Chavez Jr now HBO staples, the network has to make their challengers known, and Pirog vs Geale is a good fight that could set up a clash with Martinez or Chavez, who are now signed to fight in September, should Chavez beat Andy Lee on June 16.
Ishida, 36, is getting what might amount to a kiss-off fight at world level, a status he still owes to his April 2011 upset of James Kirkland. Since beating Kirkland, all he's done is spank someone who'd never fought before and lose to Williams. He's far less than a fitting challenger and there's no reason to excuse the fight. It's mediocre at best, and that's being kind.