Murodjon Akhmadaliev will face Kevin Gonzalez in an eliminator for the WBA World Super-Bantamweight title as the chief support bout to the Flyweight unification blockbuster between Jesse Rodriguez and Sunny Edwards at the Desert Diamond Arena in Glendale, Arizona on Saturday December 16, live worldwide on DAZN – with Edwards being joined by four fellow British talents on the card.
Akhmadaliev (11-1 8 KOs) is gunning to get a shot at winning the WBA title back after the former unified king surrendered the crown along with the IBF strap via a majority decision loss against Marlon Tapales in San Antonio in April. The Uzbek star ripped the belts from Daniel Roman in February 2020 in Miami and successfully defended them three times before the reversal against Tapales, and now the 29 year old will be looking to take a massive step towards gaining one of his old titles back early in 2024 with victory.
Gonzalez (26-0-1 13 KOs) will have other ideas though and can catapult himself into the big leagues by handing Akhmadaliev back-to-back defeats. The Mexican, who sits at #2 in the WBA rankings behind the Uzbek, was last in action in March where he defeated Jose Sanmartin in Las Vegas. The unbeaten 25 year old tastes action in the States for the third straight fight having beaten Emanuel Rivera Nieves in California in May 2022, and fights over 12 rounds for the first time in the biggest fight of his career to date.
“I am excited to return to the ring,” said Akhmadaliev. “No matter what happened in the last fight, my goal is to fight for justice and to return what is mine.”
“I feel very happy and optimistic with the opportunity that has been given to me,” said Gonzalez. “I will have a very difficult fight, probably the toughest fight of my life. Akhmadaliev is a former unified World champion, who not only has had a very successful professional career, but has a great amateur record as well. While I believe he is a very tough fighter, I also believe boxing is a sport of timing and moments, and this is my moment.
“I will make the most out of this moment so everyone can see that Mexico has a great product. I don’t see myself losing. Failure is not an option. This will be a very tough fight and I am preparing accordingly, both physically and mentally. This fight will be a crowd-pleasing fight. I’m prepared to go through hell and I am ready for a war. I want to thank Matchroom, my promoter Juan Iván Orengo and Fresh Productions for always looking after me and getting me the best fights, and my manager Jacob Najar for always having my back.
“Since day one my manager always told me that someday I would fight for a World title and that time is approaching. He also told me that I would fight in big stages. Now, I have the opportunity to fight in a card promoted by the biggest promoter in the world. I will make the best of my chance under the lights and the cameras. It is my moment and, come December 16, the world will know who Kevin “El Chacal” González is: a full Gallo from Mexico.”
The main event stars unbeaten British World ruler Edwards, and four more Brits cross the pond to end their 2023 in the US.
Galal Yafai will be hoping to get his job done and take his seat for the main event, and it is a second outing in America as he defends his WBC International Flyweight title against Rocco Santomauro. Yafai (5-0 4 KOs) won the title on debut in London in February 2022 and traveled to New York to make his first defense two months later. Last time out, Yafai destroyed Tommy Frank in a hometown Birmingham in August, and the Olympic gold medal man will look to close 2023 out in style against the experienced Californian Santomauro (22-2 6 KOs).
“I am looking forward to fighting on a great card in Arizona,” said Yafai. “The main event is one that I will be watching closely being in the same division as me – but I have work to do first, and all the focus is on doing a job on Santomauro.”
“I am grateful for this opportunity against a strong opponent like Yafai,” said Santomauro. “I am ready to show the world why I belong on the main stage.”
Peter McGrail fights in the States for the first time in the paid ranks, and fights for his first pro title as he takes on Ja’Rico O’Quinn for the WBA Continental Super-Bantamweight belt. McGrail (8-0 5 KOs) bagged a second wide points win of 2023 in his last action on his home patch in Liverpool last month, and now the 27 year old can cap his year by adding his first pro honors to his wealth of amateur titles with victory over Detroit’s O’Quinn (16-1-1 8 KOs).
“I am really buzzing for this one,” said McGrail. “I think the US fans are going to love my style of fighting. I can’t wait to get over there and show them what I’m about. Thank you to my team for keeping me active, I am ready to close the year in style and keep improving and impressing.”
“I told Eddie Hearn last summer when we were in Detroit that I want to fight for Matchroom,” said O’Quinn. “I’m about to give McGrail an American boxing lesson. He’s going to get schooled by the Great Lakes king.”
It’s a family affair for McGrail as he kicks off the main card on DAZN, after the Before the Bell action will be launched by his younger brother Joe McGrail (7-0 3 KOs), who fights for the eighth time in the pros against Brandon Rosales Marquez (6-5-2) over six rounds at Featherweight. The fifth Brit to step through the ropes on the night will be rising star Junaid Boston (7-0 6 KOs), with the Rotherham talent tackling unbeaten Detroit man Gordie Russ II (6-0 6 KOs) over eight rounds at Super-Welterweight.
Completing the line-up in Arizona and also starring in the Before the Bell portion of the card are Californian Arturo Popoca (11-0-1 7 KOs) who faces Carlos Mujica (8-3 3 KOs) over eight rounds at Super-Bantamweight and Albert Gonzalez (5-0 2 KOs) who takes on Robenilson Vieira de Jesus (5-1 1 KO) over six rounds at Featherweight.