Tomorrow night at the Cotai Arena, Venetian Resort in Macao, China, IBF lightweight champion Miguel “Puppet” Vazquez (33-3, 13 KO’s) defends his world title against undefeated Denis “Djingis Khan” Shafikov (33-0-1, 18 KO’s) of Russia. The two fighters weighed in earlier today for their 12 round contest, with both coming in at 134.8 lbs.
The Top Rank promoted card, to be televised by HBO, will feature Olympic gold medalists Zou Shiming (3-0) and Ryoto Murata (2-0, 2 KO’s) as well as WBC Asia title holder Rex Tso (11-0, 7 KO’s) as the “stars” of the card, but it’s Vazquez with his three and a half years reign as champion that’s facing the biggest threat with the most on the line.
Vazquez won the vacant IBF strap in 2010 with a one sided decision over Ji-Hoon Kim. He’s unbeaten in seven bouts since; with five successful defenses of the title including wins over then undefeated challengers Lenny Zappavigna and Mercito Gesta among them. His three defeats can easily be forgiven: he lost in his pro debut in 2006 to Saul Alvarez, and then racked up 18 wins before losing again to Timothy Bradley a year later and in 2008 he lost a second decision Alvarez.
Denis Shafikov is former title regional holder in the light welterweight division, and the current WBC Baltic and Slovenian lightweight champion. The southpaw had built the majority of his career in Russia and Finland but in recent years has traveled for bouts in Scotland, Mexico, and most recently the United States, winning a seventh round TKO over Santos Benavides last August which was also his debut for Top Rank.