Top Rank On ESPN+ Nur-Sultan Preview:

As Top Rank and MTK Global continue their broadcast agreement to carry out shows on ESPN+ almost on a weekly basis, the July 6 show from Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan is perhaps the biggest show of this partnership so far for a multitude of reasons.

Not only is this the first MTK Global on ESPN+ show to feature a world title bout, but it is also a rare chance to see live boxing from the country of Kazakhstan. That world title bout will see WBC bantamweight champion Nordine Oubaali defend his belt for the first time against Arthur Villanueva.

In recent months, MTK Global had been expanding not only its roster but also the variety of shows being broadcast on iFL TV in the United Kingdom and on ESPN+ in the United States. There appears to be a growing interest in the Middle East and in Eastern Europe for live boxing shows, especially with an April show that took place in Dubai.

It’s easy to understand why they are expanding into those areas, where amateur boxing is either already strong, or growing. While it is true that places such as Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan have incredible amateur boxing, there seems to be a lack of major professional boxing shows. Having a company like Top Rank go to those countries for boxing events not only creates a greater global presence for them, but also gives them a head start when it comes to signing potential pros coming out of those countries.

Given the success of Eastern Europeans such as Vasiliy Lomachenko, Oleksandr Gvosdyk and Oleksandr Usyk, it stands to reason that there may be more fighters out there that can potentially reach the level of success that those fighters had achieved. After all, fighters such as Murodjon Akhmadaliev and Akzhol Sulaimanbek Uulu are already highly ranked in governing bodies at super bantamweight and super featherweight, respectively, with 14 pro bouts or less.

Having boxing shows in places like Kazakhstan and Dubai could potentially mean that fighters of that caliber might be more inclined to sign with MTK Global and Top Rank.

It’s actually rather ingenious. Even though it is hard to tell how much money is being invested into these shows, but it’s doubtful that it is a significant loss in money in attempting to make this expansion. This can be seen even in the Indian boxing scene as Top Rank has signed Vijender Singh and Vikas Krishan, considered stars in India, to promotional deals within the past 10 months.

As for the Nur-Sultan show, there is certainly a lot to look forward to. Out of the 10 fights on this card, seven of them feature at least one undefeated Kazakh fighter. Perhaps out of the whole bunch, the ones to really look forward to the most are Zhankosh Turarov, Viktor Kotochigov and Sultan Zaurbek. The jury is still out on whether or not any of them will be world champions, but they are starting to reach the point in their careers where they are expected to face better competition soon.

The other notable prospect on this show is current WBO European featherweight champion David Oliver Joyce, who is facing Breilor Teran in a non-title bout. Joyce is someone to watch out for and the expectation would be for him to dominant and stop Teran in a showcase fight. Given how Joyce is 32 years old, the window to becoming a world title contender isn’t very wide. Still, it should be interesting to see his development in this fight, his 11th as a pro.

Tale of the Tape: Nordine Oubaali vs. Arthur Villanueva:

Nordine Oubaali:

Record: 15-0 (11 KO)

Age: 32

Height: 5’4”

Reach: 64”

Notable Opponents: Rau’shee Warren, Luis Melendez, Iran Diaz

Titles Won: WBC Bantamweight Title

Arthur Villanueva:

Record: 32-3-1 (18 KO)

Age: 30

Height: 5’5”

Reach: 69.5”

Notable Opponents: Luis Nery, Zolani Tete, McJoe Arroyo,

Titles Won: N/A

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