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Hipster Fights: October 24-30

Go watch these fighters before they’re cool.

Mundine vs Toliver and SBW v Liava'a
Australian prospect Bilal Akkawy
Photo by Sandra Mu/Getty Images

Before I started writing for Bad Left Hook in an “official” capacity, I was writing a weekly feature in the fan posts section of the blog about obscure fights. A lot of these fights ended up being pretty good, and a few got love on the front page. But seeing how this is a new era of boxing journalism for me, this feature deserves a fresh re-branding.

And who likes obscure things? Hipsters. So if you like moving off the beaten path to check out some under-the-radar match-ups, this feature is just for you.

Now to be sure, even for hipster fights, this is an underwhelming week. I typically believe that complaints about a “boring” schedule are much ado about nothing. That can’t be said about this week.

That said, if anything can be described as significant this week, these bouts are it. To better gauge how significant I believe them to be, I’ve rated each of them between 1-5 stars.

Crack open that PBR, and let’s begin.

October 29, 2016

Ekaterinburg, Russia

★ ★ Dmitry Bivol vs. Abdallah Paziwapazi

You know those power-punching light heavyweights like Sergey Kovalev and Artur Beterbiev? Dmitry Bivol (7(6)-0) is one of them.

As an amateur, Bivol won gold at the 2013 World Combat Games. Only seven fights into his career, he has wins over Jackson Junior and Felix Valera. The only fight that has gone the distance was the fight against Valera, but even so, Valera was knocked down twice.

As for Paziwapazi, let's be honest. The Tanzanian is there to be beat -- and I know this since he already has a fight pencilled in next week against Toni Kraft. Still, Paziwapazi has been riding a 6 fight KO streak including a great win against fellow Russian prospect Andrey Kalyuzhnyy.

Bivol should be a level above Paziwapazi, but he's still a prospect nonetheless -- and prospects need time to develop.

Jinotega, Nicaragua

★ ★ Dixon Flores vs. Marcio Soza

Dixon Flores (13(4)-5-2) has already been in the ring with the likes of Juan Navarrete, Khalid Yafai, and Carlos Cuadras. Each time, he's been stopped. Even so, he's only 22-years-old, and all these fights occurred within the past year and a half.

Marcio Soza (10(7)-5-2) is older but doesn't nearly have the same experience as Flores. However, he has a high KO ratio, and many of his losses have been competitive.

As far as domestic clashes are concerned, this should be fun.

★ ★ Julio Mendoza vs. Omar Ortiz

This is a rematch between the #2 and #3 Nicaraguan minimumweights, and Julio Mendoza (11(3)-5) is the clear favourite. Coming off a loss to Jose Argumendo in an IBF world title challenge, Mendoza is trying to bring himself back into contention.

Omar Ortiz (12(6)-5) has lost his past two fights, but they were to Mendoza and former WBA world titleholder Byron Rojas (who is also Nicaragua's #1 minimumweight). Ortiz hasn't shown much potential, but the minimumweight division has a shallow talent pool.


★ Ramon Hirales vs. Israel Gonzalez

Ramon Hirales (20(12)-8-1) is a former WBO world titlist at 108lbs. But at 34-years-old, his best days are clearly behind him. He's lost four straight, and while he still offers a worthwhile test for prospects, he should probably think about retiring.

Israel Gonzalez (15(5)-1) is a light bantamweight prospect who, last April, lost to a fighter who was 4-2. Gonzalez could take that loss as a learning experience, and bounce back. But if he's going to ever reach title contention, he should beat a badly faded Hirales.

Milan, Italy

★ ★ ★ Dragan Lepei vs. Catalin Paraschiveanu

This fight is notable for featuring two undefeated Romanian prospects that reside in Italy. I love this fight because both boxers are undefeated, neither of them has fought a bout scheduled for 10 rounds, and this is their first significant test.

Dragan Lepei (8(5)-0-2) has some draws on his record, but his past four fights have been won by stoppage. Having seen him fight in the amateurs, Lepei isn't a crude puncher. He's got some mobility, and knows how to use his jab.

While Catalin Paraschiveanu (13(3)-0) has more experience, his lack of power is cause for concern. However, a big reason for this is because of his handspeed. Paraschiveanu is a come forward pressure fighter who loves to throw a torrent of punches. He wins by suffocating his opponents.

October 30, 2016

Punchbowl, Australia

★ ★ Bilal Akkawy vs. Kerry Hope

Based on his past three fights, Billal Akkawy (13(11)-0-1) is a prospect that seems to have a lot of potential. Within a year, he's got victories over Francisco Benitez, Istvan Zeller, and the previously undefeated Guillermo Andino. It's therefore surprising to learn he had a draw in January 2015 to Joe Rea who was 10-16-3.

Thankfully, Kerry Hope (23(2)-8) is the perfect test. In 2012, Hope shocked the world by defeating Grzegorz Proksa to win the EBU middleweight title. Last year, Hope moved to Australia and beat local domestic Gunnar Jackson. Then in July, he challenged Indian 2008 Olympic bronze medallist and current super middleweight prospect Vijender Singh, but lost by wide UD.

If Akkawy has really learned from the experience with Rea, he should win. However, Hope might be too much for Akkawy to handle.

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