This is a 10 round fight between the two best lightweights from Russia. Abdullaev is coming off a TKO loss to Devin Haney and is looking to get back in a big way by taking a risky fight. Pavel Malikov used to be a decent prospect but after a loss to Daud Yordan he has struggled versus mostly domestic competition.
Zaur Abdullaev clearly has a good amateur background as his foot work is decent and he finds his range in fights very quickly. He normally keeps his hands high and is defensively responsible however the longer the fight goes on the more he drops his hands presumably because he starts to get a bit tired. He does however have good stamina and even in fights that are fought at a good pace doesn’t noticeably get exhausted or start to crack under pressure. He uses feints well and has a good jab that he throws to both body and head. His jab is meant to hit and hurt his opponents, not as a range finder or to control the distance like other boxers use their jabs. He will sometimes pull back in straight lines but this isn’t a major flaw as he doesn’t do it every time he backs out.
He’s a combination puncher that uses educated pressure on the front foot with a focus on body work to wear down his opponents. He can fight on the back foot but I think he prefers to be on the front foot. He doesn’t throw a lot of straight punches with most of his punches being hooks or screw shots to the body. He’ll occasionally throw uppercuts as well but its rare to see him throw a straight 1-2 compared to other punches. He’s hard to hit clean but he’s not hard to hit otherwise as he takes a lot of punches on the gloves while pressing forward with upper body feints and jabs. I think he could cut off the ring a bit better as sometimes he follows his opponent around instead of forcing them into a corner. He’s willing to get into short exchanges but mostly pulls out if his opponents punching and then throws his own punches back when he finds a bit of distance. He has a good chin and as far as I’m aware hasn’t been down as a pro or amateur. I think he has good power but nothing special like a Virgil Ortiz and I don’t know if he can knock people out at world level though I do think he’ll have success with his power in this fight.
Pavel Malikov is a 34 year old Lightweight from Russia who has been a pro for 10 years now. He has an average jab but it doesn’t hit the target all that much and he’s not always consistent with it. He does sometimes double or triple it up to try and get into range however. He throws a lot of single shots and when he does throw in combination its almost always a right then left hook and then repeats that again if the exchange carries on past the first flurries from both boxers. He doesn’t mix up his shots to the boy and head as well as Abdullaev and mostly head hunts. He doesn’t have great head movement and doesn’t consistently use feints especially beyond the first couple of rounds. His foot work isn’t terrible but he does find himself stuck in corners or on the ropes versus fighters that aren’t as good as Abdullaev. I don’t think his defence is very good and his chin is average at best as he’s been dropped multiple times in his career. He is very tough however as almost every time he’s been dropped in a fight he’s survived to the end and won a decision. He’s willing to get into exchanges but leaves his chin very exposed when he throws hooks because he drops his opposite hand when he throws a hook instead of keeping it next to his chin. He has been stopped before in an entertaining fight with Daud Yordan.
He has some success countering off the back foot with hooks that he times correctly so that they land first. I think he has a nice short right hook and Abdullaev will have to be careful not to fall in when he backs Malikov into corners as this could lead to him being caught by a short hook he doesn’t see coming. I don’t think his stamina is great and after 3 or 4 rounds he can’t move around the ring very well as his legs seem worn out. This could be due to his age and hard career and it wouldn’t surprise me if he is quite a bit past his prime at this point.
I think Abdullaev willl stop Malikov in the 8th or 9th round because he’ll be able to land his jab at will and his body work will leave Malikov exhausted which will allow the openings that Abdullaev needs to stop him.