DMV boxing has a strong start to the New Year ahead with Richmond’s Immanuwel Aleem (16-0-1 9KO) taking on Ievgen Khytrov (14-0 12KO) for the vacant WBC Silver Middleweight Title. The current titleholder, Tureano Johnson, will be stripped of the belt due to inactivity caused by injuries. That’s bad news for Johnson, but great news for the winner of this bout! Let’s take a few minutes to analyze the fight, which has potential to be a highly technical affair.
Ievgen Khytrov, originally from the Ukraine, now fights out of Brooklyn, New York. He brings a wealth of amateur experience to the ring as a former Olympian. His power has beaten all but two of his previous opponents, which he beat by unanimous decision. His well-rounded skill set takes the scoring out of the judges hands most of the time. Against Kenneth McNeil, he went the full ten-round distance, and even though he was noticeably slower by fights end, showed the depth of his endurance.
Immanuwel Aleem, a New York native, now fights out of Richmond, Virginia. Aleem also has considerable amateur experience, though not as much on the international level. His style of boxing is typically slick counter-punching. He will definitely enjoy the advantage in hand speed and combination punching and, although the shorter fighter, will have a reach advantage. He comes off a (controversial) bout against Demond Nicholson in August, a fight in which the referee ruled a clear knockdown a slip (in my eyes at least) which caused a draw on the scorecards. Aleem is younger than Khytrov (at only 23 years of age) and has been the distance more often, although only in eight round bouts.
The pick is a tough one, and could easily go either way. It comes down to who wants it more, and who learned more from their recent fights. I would say Khytrov hits every bit as hard as Nicholson does, but isn’t going to be too gun shy to throw punches at Aleem. If he lands clean, he doesn’t normally sit back to admire his work, but rather goes to finish his opponent off. This could lead to an early nights rest for Aleem. Conversely, Aleem doesn’t make it a habit to stand in front of his opponents and take shots, and it’s yet to be seen if Khytrov can swing at air for several rounds without running out of steam. Add the fact that Aleem has sharp counter punching skills and very quick hands, and we could see Khytrov getting picked apart the whole fight. If Aleem can sink some decent body shots in early, I think he can slow Khytrov down enough to stay a step ahead. Luckily, both fighters are young enough to bounce back from a defeat, and this will be a learning opportunity for both! Aleem by decision is my call in a fight that is 50/50.
Let me know who you pick is below, or on Twitter @TheGreatToddMan.