Before fans at the Theater at Madison Square Garden are treated to the long-awaited WBO Light Heavyweight World Championship bout between Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev and Vyacheslav “Lion Heart/Chingonskyy” Shabranskyy on Saturday, November 25, they will witness an exciting mix of top international and local prospects on the non-televised undercard.
Brooklyn native and local philanthropist, Frank “Notorious” Galarza (17-2-2, 11 KOs), will face Jaime Herrera of Chicago, Illinois in an eight-round super welterweight battle.
Galarza, 32, made his professional debut in 2010 and did not face defeat until 2015. After nearly a year off, he has signed with Main Events and is looking to prove he is still a force to be reckoned with in the division. When he is not boxing, Frank dedicates most of his free time to his charitable organization, Youth Fighting Forward, which offers boxing lessons, as well as mentoring and tutoring to underprivileged kids in Brooklyn and Connecticut. His fight with Herrera on Nov. 25 will allow him to fulfill his life-long dream of competing at Madison Square Garden.
Herrera, 28, is as tough as they come and is a fighter who is known to fully embrace the spoiler role. He owns a victory over the previously undefeated Javier Flores. He was also responsible for derailing the comeback train of former title contender Mike Jones when he scored a 7th-round stoppage in 2014. Herrera has been in the ring with and has held his own against some of the sport’s toughest fighters in Adrian Granados and ranked welterweight Egidijus Kavaliauskas.
Middleweights Leshawn “Lightning” Rodriguez (7-0, 6 KOs) and Alex Sandro Duarte (7-2, 5 KOs) are scheduled for six rounds of action.
Rodriguez, 24, of Shirley, New York had an outstanding amateur career, amassing a record of 160-15 and winning two NY Daily News Golden Gloves before making his professional debut in 2016. He sustained a broken hand in his October 2016 bout against Courtney McCleave, which left him sidelined for nearly a year. Since his return to the ring in September, he is 2-0 with two knockouts.
Duarte, 37 from Sao Paulo, Brazil, is an active fighter who will meet any challenge that is offered. He started his career with a record of 12-0-1 before suffering his first career defeat at the hands of the heavy-handed Bakhram Murtazaliev. This bout will be Duarte’s 7th of this year and his chance to get back into the win column.
In the first championship bout of the evening Bakhram Murtazaliev (10-0, 8 KOs) of Grozny, Russia will face Carlos “The Warrior” Galvan (16-5-1, 15 KOs) of Apartado, Colombia for the IBA Super Welterweight World Title.
Murtazaliev, 24, has quickly made a name for himself since coming to the United States in 2016. He has an 80% knockout-to-win (8 KOs in 10 wins) ratio and has stopped his last six opponents in a row. Bakhram, originally signed to Krusher Promotions, recently added Main Events to his team as well. This will be his second fight under both the Krusher Promotions’ and Main Events’ banners. In his first fight, he stopped Robson Assis in the first round as part of the Mohegan Sun’s Rising Stars Boxing series at Mohegan Sun Resort and Casino last month.
Carlos Galvan, 26, is also a knockout artist with a 93% knockout-to-win ratio (15 KOs in 16 wins). He made his professional debut back in 2011 and stopped his first four opponents. Galvan has also stopped his last four opponents as well. Despite five career losses, Galvan’s defeats have come at the hands of opposition with a combined record of 58-1; it is a list that includes the likes of currently-ranked contender Caleb Plant and previously-ranked contender Immanuwel Aleem.
Astana, Kazakhstan native Meiirim “The Sultan” Nursultanov (4-0, 3 KOs) will face Eric Moon (7-0, 6 KOs) of Atlanta, Georgia.
Meiirim Nursultanov, 24, started boxing at the age of 13 after watching his brother compete in the sport. He made his professional debut last year and has stopped each of his last three opponents. Nursultanov will look to top his most recent performance, which resulted in a TKO win after knocking his opponent, Ismael Bueno, out of the ring.
Eric Moon, 26, was born in Alexander City, Alabama. He was street fighting at age 14 and started boxing at 16. After he graduated from high school in 2008, he took some college courses at Alabama A&M but decided to pursue boxing instead. Moon had 52 amateur fights with only 6 losses. Three of Moon’s six KOs came in the first round and he has a 85% (six of seven) knockout-to-win ratio.
Former kickboxing sensation Enriko Gogokhia (6-0, 3 KOs) of Zugdidi, Georgia will face Jose Antonio Abreu (13-2 8 KOs) of La Romana, Dominican Republic in a six-round welterweight match-up. As a professional kickboxer, Gogokhia, 26, was 42-7, 21 KOs and won the WKF World Title, the W5 Intercontinental Championship and the Tatneft Arena World Cup. He made his professional boxing debut in 2016 after six years as a professional kickboxer.
Abreu, 29, made his professional debut in 2012 and won his first 12 bouts with seven of those wins coming back way of knockout. After suffering his first career loss in 2016, Abreu redeemed himself in his next fight by scoring a second round TKO over Euri Gonzalez. After suffering his second career defeat in his most recent bout, Jose will once again be looking for redemption when facing the undefeated Enriko Gogokhia.
In the first bout of the evening, two-time NY Daily News Golden Gloves Champion Ismael Villarreal from the Bronx, New York will make his professional debut against Race Sawyer of Salt Lake City, Utah. Villarreal, 20, is the son of former super lightweight fighter Otilio Villarreal, who is best known for his match-ups against names like Zab Judah, Hector Camacho and Kermit Cintron. Ismael first began training with his father at the age of eight.
Sawyer, 33, is a professional boxer who also competes in mixed martial arts. He has spent his entire boxing and mixed martial arts career competing in his home state of Utah. This will be his first trip to New York, where he is ready to embrace the chorus of boos that he may face when battling Ismael Villarreal in his own backyard.
According to Main Events’ matchmaker and 2015 NABF Matchmaker of the Year, Jolene Mizzone, “These are the kind of undercards I love to make. This is a great mix of the local up-and-comers, hot prospects from Eastern Europe with the big amateur backgrounds and veterans looking to prove the losses on their records were just a minor setback. Every match that was made was made for a reason and these guys each have a story to tell. There are punchers, boxers and veterans with more experience than their opposition. Every fighter on this undercard has something to prove and this is the best platform for them to do it. The best thing about this undercard is, unlike most recent undercards, these bouts were made well in advance. Therefore, all the fighters had ample time to train. It should be an exciting night!”
Kovalev vs. Shabranskyy is a 12-round fight for the vacant WBO Light Heavyweight World Title promoted by Main Events and Krusher Promotions in association with Golden Boy Promotions. Barrera vs. Valera is a 10-round light heavyweight fight promoted by Main Events in Association with Shuan Boxing Promotions. Gamboa vs. Sosa is a 10-round super featherweight fight promoted by Golden Boy Promotions in association with Peltz Boxing and ZR Entertainment. The event will take place at the Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York City, and will be televised live on HBO World Championship Boxing beginning at 10:00 p.m. ET/PT.