After the World Boxing Super Series kicked off its second season in Yokohama, Japan, the global tournament now turns its attention to Russia, where the second fight card is set to take place.
Just like with the first fight card from last week, this card will also be headlined by a bantamweight tournament bout between WBO champion Zolani Tete facing off against hotshot Russian prospect Mikhail Aloyan, who is fighting for a world title in just his fifth pro fight.
The fight will be one of the more interesting matchups in the 118-pound tournament. Tete has been one of the division's most successful champions. Tete, a former super flyweight world champion, really captured the attention of the entire boxing world with a record-setting knockout win over Siboniso Gonya last year when Tete's first punch thrown took out Gonya in 11 seconds.
Alolyan is one of the most successful Russian amateurs in recent history, a two-time world amateur champion, European Gold medalist and Bronze medalist at the 2012 London Olympics. Many Russian boxing fans believed Aloyan to be a future world champion as a pro, but with the World Boxing Super Series, Aloyan's world title shot came in much sooner than many had anticipated. But if Aloyan can pull off the upset and win the WBO world title, he would win a championship in the second-fewest amount of fights fought for a male fighter to win a world title with only Vasiliy Lomachenko having won his first title in his third pro fight.
The winner of this fight would get to face off against the winner of top-seeded bantamweight Ryan Burnett, the WBA's "super" champion, and former world champion Nonito Donaire.
The other WBSS fight is the start of the second cruiserweight tournament featuring two of the division's best young stars looking to break into the upper echelon of fighters in a loaded division and rise towards title contention. American Andrew Tabiti will take on rising Russian contender Ruslan Fayfer.
To boxing fans in the United States, Tabiti's name may ring familiar as he fought on the opening fight of the Floyd Mayweather vs. Conor McGregor pay-per-view card, beating former champion Steve Cunningham. Tabiti has since then been somewhat inactive since that August 2017 victory, fighting just once earlier this year when he knocked out Lateef Kayode in the sixth round of their May fight.
Fayfer has been climbing the ranks in the cruiserweight division for the past few years, reaching the top 10 in the WBA, WBO and IBF rankings. Having primarily in Russia against relatively unknown opponents, most fans in the west watching on the DAZN platform will get their first look at Fayfer as he takes on Tabiti, who has yet to truly break into the division as a future superstar. A win for either man will most likely put them on the path to winning a world title soon.
This fight isn't simply a tournament bout where the winner becomes the first semifinalist among the cruiserweights. With both Tabiti and Fayfer being ranked No. 2 and No. 3 in the IBF rankings and no boxer occupying the No. 1 spot, this is essentially a title eliminator where the winner becomes the mandatory challenger for the governing body's title. The IBF title could be in the tournament depending on the aftermath of undisputed champion Oleksnadr Usyk's upcoming title defense against Tony Bellew later this year.
Tale of the Tape: Zolani Tete vs. Mikhail Aloyan
Record: 27-3 (21 KO)
Titles Won: IBF Super Flyweight World, Interim WBO Bantamweight, WBO Bantamweight World Titles
Notable Wins: Omar Narvaez, Arthur Villanueva, Paul Butler
Record: 4-0 (0 KO)
Titles Won: WBA International Bantamweight, WBC Silver Super Flyweight Titles
Notable Wins: Alexander Espinoza
Tale of the Tape: Andrew Tabiti vs. Ruslan Fayfer
Record: 16-0 (13 KO)
Titles Won: NABF Cruiserweight, USBA Cruiserweight Titles
Notable Wins: Steve Cunningham
Record: 23-0 (16 KO)
Titles Won: IBF International Cruiserweight, WBA Asia Cruiserweight, Russian National Heavyweight, WBC Baltic Silver Cruiserweight Titles
Notable Wins: Yuriy Barashian, David Basajjamivule
Betting Odds (Odds From PaddyPower.com):
Zolani Tete Win: 1/4 (Favorite)
Mikhail Aloyan Win: 11/4 (Underdog)
Fight Ends In A Draw: 22/1
Andrew Tabiti Win: 3/10
Ruslan Fayfer Win: 9/4 (Underdog)
Fight Ends In A Draw: 25/1