Hasanboy Dusmatov, the 23-year-old southpaw Olympic Light Flyweight gold medallist signs with Rodney Berman and embarks on a professional career – The Uzbek hero has had a phenomenal two years. In 2015, the Uzbek starlet was offered the opportunity to represent the Ukraine Ottomans in the World Series of Boxing. In a series of seven bouts, Dusmatov came out undefeated, winning all his bouts with his aggressive quick footed style. This feat, thrust the gaze of many within the sport onto the young Uzbek, who would go on to shine brightly with more success in the coming months winning Olympic gold and one of boxing’s most coveted awards, the Val Barker trophy for excellence in the Olympic boxing competition.
After his strong performance in the WSB, Hasanboy went to compete in Germany’s Chemistry Cup, and then the Asian Boxing Championships, two tournaments he would leave as champion winning all of his bouts. His quick feet and hands as well as the discipline to follow the strategy set by his team, ensured his success in 2015 and all the tournaments he competed in. His opponents never came to terms with the blistering pace he often set, as well as his ability to create escape routes with his footwork in any corner of the ring.
The Rio Olympics were set to be Dusmatov’s next international stage, and a first Light Flyweight gold for his nation were within his Olympic sights. In the Round of 16, Dusmatov was squaring off against Joselito Velasquez of Mexico. The pair had previously met in Dusmatov’s first bout in the WSB and the outcome for this bout would not be changed as Dusmatov boxed his way to a unanimous decision victory over the Mexican. His strategy of taking the lead in the scoring and forcing his opponent to chase on the cards left them fighting at a quicker tempo, one that suited the Uzbek dynamo whose fleet feet and rapid punching kept him ahead both literally and on the cards.
His quarter-final bout became an all Central Asian affair as he fought Kazakhstan’s three time Olympian Birzhan Zhakypov, a tall opponent well-schooled in the Kazakh style of boxing and extremely experienced. The fight was fought by Dusmatov to perfection, as again he took the lead against his opponent on the cards, before frustrating him by continuously tying him up and landing swift salvos of punches on the front foot at every opportunity. The Uzbek secured his place in the semi-final with his second unanimous decision of the tournament and placed himself and one of the top contenders for the first place prize.
Setting an impressive pace was another Light Flyweight, Nico Hernandez of the United States who was already being called the ‘tournament’s giant killer’, having beaten Russian Vasilii Egorov who was the tournament’s number two seed in his second bout. In his quarter-final the American out-fought Ecuador’s well respected Carlos Pilataxi in a strong showing. Hasanboy, undeterred by the success his opponent had found in his previous two bouts put on his best performance of the games so far.
He boxed cleverly, applying pressure onto the American and forcing him back towards the ropes with his work. Hernandez was not able to put his foot down to work through his own gears and match the blistering pace being set by the Uzbek. He sustained a cut above his left eye at the end of the round and had ceded both rounds to Dusmatov who now had a foot in the final.
The third round, Hernandez showed greater urgency in his work but the Uzbek’s had already worked their tried and tested method to leave it all for the USA boxer to chase. Fighting slightly more cautious in the third, the more experienced Dusmatov lit up after a minute of the final round, and caused more damage to the injury present on Hernandez. A 45 second break was enforced for the cut man to work on the injury before action was resumed.
The circling Dusmatov moved smoothly around the perimeter of the ring, momentarily changing his direction to land punches onto the oncoming Hernandez with devastating accuracy, each blow pushing him towards the final achieving his dream of Olympic Gold. The judges awarded him another unanimous decision victory to take him forward to the Olympic final.
The gold medal bout of his Olympics would be against Colombia’s Yubergen Martinez, an opponent who had beaten some of the classiest boxers in the division to guarantee himself a minimum of silver. Dusmatov began the contest asserting himself on his opponent and setting command of the centre ring. The fast moving dynamo used his prodigious reflexes to beat his taller opponent to the punch and move himself out of the way of any returns.
The repeated success found by Dusmatov with his southpaw left followed by a right hook pushed him ahead in the contest on the cards. The unerring speed at which he moved was clearly causing problems for the Colombian who could not set down and fire his punches at the rapidly moving target.
Action in the second resembled the first, with Dusmatov walking his opponent onto punches thrown with speed and precision, before making Martinez watch him dance away and usher a new chase. The masterful display of boxing was characterised in the second by the Uzbek out working his opponent and landing looping left hands over the top of his opponent’s jabs. Becoming more at ease in the bout, Dusmatov felt confident to exchange with his opponent or box from the outside. A two-point gap emerged at the end of the round and took Dusmatov one three-minute stanza away from Olympic gold.
Martinez came out into the final round like a fighter possessed, the urgency clear in his work. Dusmatov, a fighter experienced beyond his years slowed the tempo of the bout with his movement and pin point punching, patiently countering on the back foot. He used all the defensive skills that had led him to an undefeated record in all competitions in 2015, to bob and weave his way out of harm’s way before peppering the Colombian’s body and head. In the entire three round pursuit, the speed of the Uzbek had proved too much for Martinez who could not quite come to terms with his dynamic fleet footed foe. At the sound of the final bell, Hasanboy Dusmatov leaped into the arms of his coach knowing he had secured himself Olympic gold.
The judges agreed and awarded him a unanimous decision victory crowning him Rio 2016’s Light Flyweight Olympic Champion.
In a sublime display of pure boxing skill, ring craft and intelligence, Dusmatov earned gold and put himself firmly on the pugilistic map of the world.
It can come as no surprise then, that at such an elite competition there are scouts ready to court and sign the brightest talents on display. Hasanboy was soon put into contact with Rodney Berman, South Africa’s premier promoter and head of Golden Gloves, who had witnessed his display in Rio Games. Golden Gloves, a promotional outfit that has produced over fifty world champions in forty years, was “privileged to be approached by Eastern European contacts”, who having seen the success he had achieved with previous Central Asian boxers, none more so than Gennady Golovkin who with Berman found a prosperous stage in the Principality of Monaco, began discussions on Dusmatov and negotiating a contract.
In his own words, Berman had sighted an “incredible raw talent” in Hasanboy Dusmatov. An exciting well-schooled, high achieving boxer with a “style made for the pro’s.” Both sides completed negotiations as quick as Dusmatov could fire a flurry and transitioning him from now Olympic gold medallist to professional prize fighter.
Starting out in a division that has acted as platform to fellow southpaw and future Hall of Fame fighter, Manny Pacquiao, Dusmatov has the opportunity to work his way up towards an illustrious career. His style of boxing, aggressive, thudding punches and front foot pressure will lend itself into the professional ranks. His experiences so far and discipline will keep him in good stead as he grows and moves up the ladder of professional prize fighting towards reaching the heights of a world championship belt.
At Light Flyweight there is a litany of talent, such as reigning champion Donnie Nietes of the Philippinse, with Taguchi of Japan not far behind, both holding world title honours. Mexico’s Ganigan Lopez, the relatively tall WBC champion also makes up the ranks of hardnosed prize fighters in the division. An Olympic gold medallist will always remain on their radar, and Dusmatov is certain to have caught a few eyes.
In the Flyweight division above stands one of boxing’s pound for pound stars in Roman ‘Chocalito’ Gonzalez, who has recently begun headlining his own shows and acting as chief support for Gennady Golovkin in his bouts. Gonzalez boasts an outstanding 45-0 record in a division so packed with good, hungry fighters and if all things should turn out smoothly for the Uzbek, a future bout many years down the line could well be on the cards.
However, to work his way through the legion of fighters standing between him and a world title, Uzbekistan’s starlet will need a successful and harmonious team, an asset crucial to building a stand out amateur to stardom and world titles. In Golden Gloves and Rodney Berman, Hasanboy Dusmatov has undoubtedly found a team always at hand to support him, guide him and allow him to “enjoy the same careful, systematic progress and exposure” being achieved by Roman Gonzalez, in a division where success on the screen is often difficult to find.
Rodney Berman aims to take the dynamo and make him shine bright in his native Uzbekistan, to the “same adulation that GGG enjoys in Kazakhstan”, in a promotional feat well within the bounds of skill of both promoter and boxer. With a broad base of opponents in and around South Africa itself, Dusmatov will have ample opportunity to grow his talents under the fostered care of his promoting team and embark on his journey towards becoming a world champion.
Hasanboy Dusmatov, the Uzbek dynamo, will mark his professional prize fighting debut in early December at Emperors Palace, South Africa.
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