Raymond Ford’s bid for WBA featherweight gold will land on a rival network, as Top Rank outbid Matchroom $317,500 to $255,555.55 for the rights to his ordered clash with Otabek Kholmatov. The bout could land on February 16th in the States, February 17th in Riyadh, or March 2nd in Verona, NY.
Dan Rafael reports that Kholmatov (11-0, 10 KO) signed a promotional deal with Top Rank, though the organization has yet to send out a press release.
If that’s true, it’s cause for celebration. A Kholmatov win would leave Top Rank with three of the four featherweight titlists, clearing the path for potential unifications with Luis Alberto Lopez and Robeisy Ramirez. As others have pointed out, this also ensures a strong slate of challengers will be waiting for Inoue when/if “The Monster” runs the table at 122 and moves up.
More than that, Kholmatov is just a damn good fighter. He hasn’t gotten the promotional push of other Uzbeks like Murodjon Akhmadalev and Israil Madrimov, but last year’s mauling of Thomas Patrick Ward showed he’s just as dangerous.
That said, so is Ford (14-0-1, 7 KO), who’s been rock-solid in three fights since narrowly escaping Edward Vazquez last year. He thrashed Sakaria Lukas in eight before thoroughly overpowering Jessie Magdaleno in April, putting him in position for a crack at the belt after Leigh Wood vacated.
Even the Vazquez fight aged nicely after “Kid’s” recent near-upset of Joe Cordina.
This one’s worth looking forward to. Hopefully it’ll get the spotlight it deserves.