The Tatneft Cup tournament is once again in its final stages. Competitors have advanced to the finals, having to win three fights over the course of the Tatneft Cup 2011 campaign to get there. The final match-ups are looking great due to some more talent being recruited this year. All the finals bouts will be six rounds of three minutes, unlike the normal four rounds of three minute matches in the Tatneft Cup. For more info on just what exactly the Tatneft Cup is, I wrote an article a while back illustrating why it's pretty awesome.
Starting off with the 70kg final, Dzhabar Askerov takes on Maxim Smirnov in what has all the makings of a great fight. Askerov always comes to throw down, and his fight with Enriko Gogokhia that advanced him to this position is a great example of that. With Smirnov having a pretty good boxing background (8-4-2 as a pro boxer with respectable losses), he tends to be pretty hands-heavy in his approach and this is what can really make the fight a slugfest. Smirnov is fresh off a stoppage win over Maxim Shalnev on Saturday while Askerov's last fight was on July 23rd in a win over Enriko Gogokhia that advanced him here. This should be a great one.
In the 80kg final, a battle of two top fighters at the weight takes place between Dmitry Shakuta and Alexander Oleinik. Both fighters are really good. Shakuta has been around for a long time, with the former It's Showtime 77MAX World Champion being among his accolades. Oleinik has burst on the scene over the past year or two, particularly after his tournament win in Moldova that included stoppage wins over Sem Braan and Constantin Tutu. This year, Oleinik beat another top fighter in Alexander Stetsurenko to get to the finals. Shakuta just picked up a win over Stetsurenko on October 20th. This should be a really good, technical fight. Both of their last fights in the Tatneft tournament against Yordan Yankov and Alexander Stetsurenko respectively are ones that you should definitely check out.
Lastly, in the heavyweight final Dutch-based fighter Hicham Achalhi faces Ukrainian Dmitry Bezus. Achalhi has popped up this year due to his participation in the tournament and actually just picked up a win on Sunday. Bezus has experience fighting at heavyweight, including a win over Konstantin Gluhov and a good amateur pedigree. Ismael Londt won the Tatneft Cup in this divison last year and has since skyrocketed up the ranks. Maybe the winner of this bout can have similar success.
Along with the final match-ups are some single bouts. Enriko Gogokhia fights Philippe Salmon at 70kg, Alexander Stetsurenko fights Hicham El Gaoui, who recently beat L'houcine "Aussie" Ouzgni, at 80kg and Dzevad Poturak fights Brazillian Ricardo Christian at heayvweight.