The stakes have been raised dramatically for Kiwi middleweight contender Andrei Mikhailovich’s next fight on April 27 – with a victory over his undefeated Venezuelan opponent likely to set up an immediate challenge for the IBF world title.
“I’ve already spoken to IBF representative Ben Keilty and Ben is of the opinion that if Andrei can beat Edisson Saltarin on April 27 at Fight For Life that should see him progress to the number three spot.
Mikhailovich (19-0, 11KOs) was the big mover in the IBF rankings released overnight, jumping from 10 to five and into pole position to fight the winner of a bout between Brazilian Esquiva Falcao and Australian Michael Zerafa for the title recently vacated by Genady ‘GGG’ Golovkin.
“This is a stunning development,” Mikhailovich’s promoter Dean Lonergan said.
“With the number one and two ranked fighters Falcoa and Zerafa to fight for the vacant world title, Andrei only needs to win one fight to go into the mandatory position. In all reality, as along as Andrei keeps winning you will see him fight for a world title by the end of this year.”
Mikhailovich said he was pumped when trainer Isaac Peach told him the news this morning.
“Not too long ago I was just an angry little boy and now I am number five in the world,” he said.
“That is pretty cool. I’ve worked hard for it so I’m proud of where I’ve got to. It’s exciting to be so close to my dream – but my main focus is on April 27. I’m going knock out Edisson Saltarin and then we’ll see what comes next.”
What comes next will almost certainly be a world title showdown against Falcoa or Zerafa, Lonergan said.
“We don’t really care which of those it is. Andrei will beat either of them.”
Mikhailovich’s rise means he has now overtaken heavyweight Joseph Parker (WBC No. 7 and WBO No. 10) as New Zealand’s second highest ranked male boxer behind cruiserweight David Light (WBO No. 1).
There was further good news in the rankings for a Peach Boxing stable that already has world title fights locked in for Light and Mea Motu, with classy light heavyweight Jerome Pampellone surging to number 10 with the IBF.
Pampellone fights Aussie-based Kiwi Mose Auimatagi on the Burger King I Am Hope Fight For Life card on April 27.
“If Jerome wins that he’ll also move into the top five,” Lonergan said.
With Light’s WBO world cruiserweight showdown with Brit Lawrence Okolie headlining the card at the 22,000-seat Manchester Arena on March 25 and Motu set to fight Canada’s Tania Walters for IBO Super Bantamweight title in the main event of Fight For Life, the coming months would be hectic, admitted trainer Isaac Peach.
“We’ve all worked incredibly hard for this so we wouldn’t have it any other way,” Peach said.
“But, yeah, it’s pretty full on at the moment that’s for sure.”
Peach said he was thrilled that things were starting to fall into place for Mikhailovich after several high-profile potential fights fell over last year.
“Andrei has had to be patient – but this shows that good things do come to those that wait,” Peach said.
With four fighters now on the cusp of world titles, Peach Boxing had established itself as a beacon for the sport in New Zealand, Lonergan said.
“What we are seeing is a little gym in West Auckland that is clearly committed to global excellence,” Lonergan said.
“Peach Boxing is already rivalling the past deeds of Kevin Barry (trainer of David Tua and Parker). It’s boxing’s version of what is happening in MMA at CKB with the likes of Israel Adesanya, Dan Hooker and Kai Kara France exploding onto the world stage.”