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Khabib Allakhverdiev-Dagestani Hawk


BoztheMadman
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A very talented boxer whose success in the ring was cut short by boxing politics, Khabib "The Hawk" Allakhverdiev captured the WBA and IBO titles at 140 pounds, but was champion for a little over a year-he deserved to remain champion longer than that for sure. But, he was sadly robbed against Jessie Vargas and so lost his titles all too soon and unfairly. He would only return to the ring one more time after that, in a losing effort, where he was stopped by Adrien Broner in the last round. He was the first man to defeat the spectacular boxing wizard Joan Guzman and the only one as well, in the pros.

He was born in Kurush, a village in southern Dagestan, a Russian republic, 8 December 1982, in a family of Lezgin ethnicity, which is one of the original or autonomous Caucasian nations. He lived in Derbent, second largest city in Dagestan, on the Caspian Sea. He had a long and coveted amateur career, winning the 1998 European Cadet Junior championships silver at 51 kilos (about 115 pounds) and the 2000 World Junior championships bronze at 60 kilos (135), as well as a bronze at the 2005 World championships, losing to Yordenis Ugas in the semi final. He also won the 2004 Russian championships at lightweight. He turned pro in March 2007, promoted jointly by Top Rank and Warriors Boxing. In his 12th fight, he won the WBC Asian light welter title by UD against Karen Tevosian, 23 May 2010. He had his first high profile fight against Nate Campbell The Galaxy Warrior on 25 September 2011 in Krasnodar, Russia, and won by a technical decision after 6 rounds. Next year on 8 February, he took on Ignacio Mendoza in Moscow and stopped him by TKO 7 to win the WBA Fedelatin title as well. Later that same year, on 20 June, he knocked out Kaizer Mabuza in 4 rounds to win the IBO title, also in Moscow.

These victories gave him a shot at the WBA title, which had been vacated. His opponent was none other than the 33-0-1 Dominican wonder Joan Guzman, one of the best technicians of his time and a fast guy as well. However, by then, Guzman was at the end of his prime, but still not completely washed up. They fought in Sunrise, Florida, on 30 November and Khabib managed to put Guzman down in round 3, which had never happened before. It was still a very competitive fight but the Dagestani Hawk was slightly ahead going into round 8, when Guzman injured his left knee after an accidental foul and could not continue. It went to the scorecards and KA was pronounced the winner by the scores of 76-75 twice for him and same score from one judge was given to Guzman. "The Sycuan Tyson" was thus handed his first and only pro loss! It seemed like a start of a brilliant championship reign and Allakhverdiev also stopped Souleymane M'baye by TKO 11 in his first defence, 13 July 2013 in Monte Carlo. 

He was absent from the ring for 9 months before defending again on 12 April 2014 against Jessie Vargas, then a very hyped new contender who was promoted by Floyd Mayweather. The fight was held at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas and Khabib entered ranked 7th among the junior welterweights by The Ring, while Vargas was unranked. Vargas was 23-0 and at 5'11 3 inches taller than Allakhverdiev. Also 6 years younger. Khabib did well and outboxed Vargas for much of the first 8 rounds, but in the 8th he suffered a bad cut from a clash of heads, on his left eyebrow. He continued fighting however, but lost some rounds because of that. In the eleventh, he also developed a swelling around his right eye. In the end, the fight went the distance and Vargas was proclaimed the winner by 115-113 twice and the unreasonably wide 117-111. Dan Rafael and Harold Lederman both had KA winning by 115-113. Although he made 250 K from this fight, he was now no longer the champion and was robbed of his title by the judges, obviously. 

He would not return to the ring until almost 18 months had passed, after he got the offer to fight Adrien Broner in a high paying fight and a chance to reclaim his WBA belt, which Vargas had vacated in order to fight the WBO champion Timothy Bradley. The fight was held on 3 October 2015 in US Bank Arena, Cincinnati. Allakhverdiev opened aggressively and had success with his punches to the body and head. He shook Broner with a right hook in the third. Broner started counterpunching effectively in the fourth and started nailing him with clean shots. Both landed quite a lot in the following rounds as they exchanged frequently, but Khabib started looking weary and his punches started losing steam while Broner got sharper. In round 9, Broner nailed him with a huge uppercut but he took it well. By round 12, he had visibly tired and was cut over the left eye and bloodied. He still went forward and attacked but late in the round, he was hit by a power combination and the referee then stepped in and waved it off, with 22 seconds to go. It was arguably not a necessary stoppage, as he was still on his feet and didn't look seriously shaken, but that became his final fight.

His final record is 19 wins with 9 ko's and 2 losses, 1 by ko. He was briefly trained (2012) by Kostya Tszyu before John David Jackson became his trainer and trained him for the rest of his career. It is a shame that his career ended like it did, given how it had looked before that and how it could have developed. However, for Russian and other former Soviet fighters, it was never easy to be treated well by the biased American boxing system. If you didn't lose in the fight itself, you lost on the scorecards. Despite what you may think of the Vargas fight and the decision, he surely was an outstanding and talented fighter, who deserved a better ending to his career than he got. He possessed the boxing IQ, speed and good reflexes and could hit hard enough also. He was, like all other Dagestani fighters (including UFC ones of course), as tough as they come and didn't know what "quit" means. However, in contrast to his more famous UFC-namesake, his career never reached the same heights, nor did he retire undefeated. Hail to you, Khabib A! 

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