There is genuine excitement in the voice of Vadim Kornilov. Guiding the careers of some of the biggest breakthrough fighters in the sport has its obvious perks, and the Brigade Sports manager is seeing the fruits of this success blossom before his very eyes.
Live on DAZN this Saturday, Murodjon Akhmadaliev, Israil Madrimov, Shakhram Giyasov, Bakhodir Jalolov, Mirazizbek Mirzakhalilov, Sanjar Tursunov, Ikboljon Kholdarov, and Hasanboy Dusmatov will all compete on the same card in front of a home crowd inside the Humo Arena, Tashkent, underlining the strides that Uzbekistan has made in the world of boxing over the past few years.
“This is a very exciting event,” the baby-faced manager explained. “It’s a huge, historic night of boxing in Uzbekistan. We’ve had some professional shows before but nothing of this magnitude before with such big names all on the same card.”
The card is headlined by Murodjon Akhmadaliev’s first defence of his unified super-bantamweight titles against Japan’s Ryosuke Iwasa, with a huge crowd expected in Uzbekistan’s capital.
“For this generation of Uzbekistan fighters coming through, it’s taken a huge team effort over a number of years,” he continued, attempting to convey the reason behind this sudden success. “All the trainers, members of the Olympic committee, supporters, fighters; it takes a team to become successful. The Uzbek team that came together before Rio was the complete package.”
How to Watch Akhmadaliev vs Iwasa
Uzbekistan topped the boxing medal table at Rio 2016, winning three golds, two silver and two bronze over a memorable tournament – this matching their previous medal haul in boxing for the previous five Games combined.
“This is a special group of fighters for sure, but there are so many more coming. This is just the beginning. It’s so exciting for the supporters to see these guys win an Olympic medal and then move into the professional game and become successful – they now want to be like them.
“The competition here is incredible. What I’ve heard here in Tashkent is that one in ten Uzbeks has previously trained in boxing, or trains in boxing now, which is an amazing number. Basically, 10% of the country has links to boxing. So this competition to get into the national team is a lot harder than in most other countries as the sport is really popular. That makes the difference. You can get up to 500 fighters training in the regionals for a chance to get into the nationals, this creates a healthy competition to try and make it to the top.”
They’ll be a huge focus on Saturday night’s card in Tashkent, but for Kornilov and his talented pool of fighters, they’ll be hoping that the best, and biggest, is still yet to come.