ASTANA – Kazakhstan’s Zhanat Zhakiyanov has become the European bantamweight champion after flooring France’s Karim Guerfi, the title holder, at Ponds Ford Arena, Sheffield, U.K. on April 26. With 23 professional fights and 22 wins, including 15 knockouts, Zhakiyanov is a rising star in the boxing world.
The win makes him the second continental champion to have claimed the bantamweight title while being trained by Ricky Hatton, one of the boxing world’s best known figures.
Two world boxing sanctioning bodies now rate Zhakiyanov in the top 10 and he is on track for a crack at his first world title fight later this year.
Referee Freddie Rafn called the knockout in round five, declaring Zhakiyanov the winner.
Born in Blagoveshchenka, Kazakhstan in November 1983, the talented boxer joined four-time world champion Hatton’s training facilities in 2011 and has taken his boxing career to new heights since he moved to train in the U.K.
After arriving to pursue his career in Britain, Zhakiyanov told reporters he wasn’t phased by moving from his native Kazakhstan because he knew if he made the switch his career trajectory would be acute. “I am a survivor and have lived through many things,” he is quoted as saying. He also said many Kazakh boxers were very successful when they relocated to train and fight elsewhere in the world.
Commentators at the Ponds Ford Arena said Guerfi had initially taken control of the fight with the Kazakh bruiser only coming into his own in the fifth round after a series of well-placed right-hand punches that culminated in the knockout blow, a right hander that connected with the former champion’s temple and consigned him to the ring’s corner. He needed medical attention but was deemed okay afterwards.