Hovhannes Bachkov takes on Samuel Gonzalez in Dubai on Friday
Hovhannes Bachkov takes on Samuel Gonzalez in Dubai on Friday Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: Armenian amateur superstar Hovhannes Bachkov makes his highly anticipated professional boxing debut as he faces a dangerous opponent in Venezuela’s Samuel Gonzalez in the headline act of an action-packed fight card in Rotunda Rumble IV at Caesars Bluewaters Dubai on Friday night.

Bachkov, 27, has had a smashing amateur career, having won gold medals at the European Games in 2019 and the European Championships in 2017, and bronze medals at the World Championships in 2019 and 2017. He also represented his country at the 2016 Olympics in Rio.

Thirty-two-year old Gonzalez (22-6, 13 KOs), who has won 22 of his 28 fights, with 13 of those wins coming inside the distance.

However, Bachkov is relishing the opportunity to take on a top-level fighter and promises a ‘spectacular’ fight.

“A strong rival is a good one. If you want the whole world to know who you are, you must start your career with a strong rival and then do your talking in the ring,” he said. “I don’t like to talk much before a fight, but I will look spectacular in my fight. This is my first fight as a professional and I am ready to make an impact. Throughout my career I have always trained as a professional, but there has been a new approach. I’ve worked hard in training and I am extremely excited.

“Making my professional debut has been a dream of mine for a while, and I’m determined to make it a dream to remember this week.”

Elsewhere on Friday’s card, Kazakistan’s unbeaten Viktor Kotochigov defends his WBC international lightweight title against England’s Maxi Hughes, while rising star Blane Hyland takes on Mohammad Salah Abdelghany, and knockout king Faizan Anwar faces JR Mendoza.

Hughes (21-5-2, 4 KOs) comes into the fight on the back of a big win over former world title challenger Jono Carroll in August, and believes that the Kotochigov fight is just another stepping stone en route to the title.

“I’ve had a look at a few of his fights, and he’s nothing I’ve not seen before. He’s a tough, strong, come forward fighter, but I’ve got more experience at a higher level which gives me the upper hand,” Hughes said,

“The WBC International title is a massive incentive. Winning this belt should give me a top 15 world ranking with the WBC and put me a step closer to challenging for a world championship.

“Fighting abroad ticks an item off my bucket list. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do and what a country to fight in. It will be great to be away in the sunshine with the dark nights drawing in this time of year.”