122-pound contender Murodjon Akhmadaliev is looking to tie a record on Thursday night, as he’ll try to join Leon Spinks as the only male fighters to become unified world titleholders within eight professional bouts, as well as boxing’s first unified titleholder from Uzbekistan.
Getting there will be tough, as Akhmadaliev (7-0, 6 KO) is facing WBA/IBF junior featherweight titleholder Daniel Roman (27-2-1, 10 KO) in what most expected to be the show stealer on DAZN’s Miami Fight Night card.
“It’s history in the making,” said Akhmadaliev. “To become a unified champion in just eight fights and the first from Uzbekistan is really some great history for me to make. I want to make my country proud. Boxing is the number one sport in Uzbekistan and with God’s blessing, I think everything will play out well.”
Akhmadaliev, 25, may not have a wealth of pro experience, but his journey didn’t begin when he turned pro in 2018, either. A 2016 Olympic bronze medalist, he’s been boxing since he was a child, and sees this as the culmination of all the hard work.
“It’s a dream come true for me,” he said. “I have been climbing this mountain for 17 years, in the gym twice a day in that time. I’ve broken my wrists, my fists, my nose, bloodied face, had cuts; all that sacrifice is for fights like this. I know people think I am inexperienced and Danny will take me out or something like that, but trust me, I have given it my all for 17 years and it will be no different for fight night.
“This is the most important fight in my career so far. I’m fighting the unified champion, the best in the division, so it’s a big step up for me but we’re very well prepared for this fight with my coaches Antonio and Joel Diaz.”
Akhmadaliev also knows this is a major step up, as Roman is experienced at the world title level — he’s 5-0 in world title bouts — and will be a much tougher task than Akhmadaliev’s previous opponents.
“I’ve only had seven fights and I haven’t felt challenged in any of those fights,” he admitted. “I am not comparing those fights to this one as I know they are different and this is a hard fight. All the talk about his experience that he brings to the ring is fine, but it’s only when we get in the ring together that we will see who is the best fighter, the most experienced, who is stronger, faster, sharper, and smarter.”
Akhmadaliev also admitted that all this press work isn’t his specialty. He prefers to just get in the ring.
“I don’t like to talk too much,” he said. “I love to fight, and I can’t wait to fight him.”