Sanchez and Besputin face off for USBA welterweight title, Okada makes US debut

By John J. Raspanti


Welterweight contender Alan Sanchez, winner of his last eight fights in succession, takes on rising Russian national champion Alexander Besputin on the undercard of the Jose Ramirez and Antonio Orozco WBC world title fight this Friday at Save Mart Arena in Fresno, California.


Sanchez, 27, has paid his dues, making his way up the professional boxing ladder by fighting whoever is placed in front of him. He’s a boxer-puncher who’s always in extraordinary shape.


His last two appearances in the ring were impressive. Sanchez boxed circles around Ramses Agaton, and stopped tough veteran Miguel Angel Huera.


Impressive as his victories were, Sanchez is determined to keep improving.


“I always feel like I can do better, "Sanchez told this writer on the phone a few months ago.


Two years ago Sanchez, born in Mexico and fighting out of Fairfield, CA., upset ranking welterweight Pablo Cano in Las Vegas, NV. Cano, who has been in the ring with former champions Shane Mosley, and Paulie Malignaggi, expected to use a victory over Sanchez to position himself a shot at a world title. Instead, Sanchez used his athleticism to outbox Cano over 10 competitive rounds.


Promoter Paco Damian, who along with legendary matchmaker, Don “War-a-week” Chargin, staged a number of Sanchez’s bouts, says getting Sanchez fights can be difficult.


“Nobody wants to fight him," said Damian. “He’s always in great shape and always comes to win.”


Besputin, who trains alongside celebrated pound-for-pound fighter, Vasyl Lomachenko, is undefeated in 10 professional fights, scoring eight knockouts. His amateur career was a celebrated one, including over 300 fights and 11 Russian national titles. Besputin captured gold at the 2013 European championships and silver two years later. Besputin’s amateur pedigree caught the eye of noted boxing manager Egis Klimas.


"I knew Alex from the amateurs, while he was at Russian National team and fighting as an amateur. " said Klimas in an article written by Anson Wainwright and posted on “He was (an) outstanding fighter and got my attention. After (a) few meetings we decided to co-operate (and work together).”


Besputin’s professional career got off to a rousing start three years ago when he starched Fernando Paliza in less than five minutes. He’s progressed since, stopping undefeated prospects Juan Ruiz and Wesley Tucker, as well pitching a shutout over Amir Khan conqueror Breidis Prescott. Besputin, also 27, likes to switch from orthodox to southpaw, and resides in Oxnard, CA is more slugger than boxer, who occasionally forgets about his defense.


Sanchez knows what he’ll be facing in the talented Besputin.


“He’s a strong and fast fighter,” said Sanchez. “But we trained hard for this one.”


The scrap between Besputin and Sanchez should be a good one.



Also fighting Sept.14 will be undefeated junior welterweight Hiroki Okada of Tokyo, Japan. Recently signed by Top Rank Promotions to an exclusive three fight contract, Okada will be making his United States debut by facing veteran Christina Coria of Argentina.


The rangy Okada has stopped 13 of his 18 opponents. In his eighth pro fight, Okada knocked out Masayoshi Koathe to capture the vacant Japanese super lightweight title.


Coria, winner of three contests in succession, is a scrappy old pro who’s never been stopped during his 12-year professional career. His level of competition is much higher than Okada. Coria has faced world title challengers Paulus Moses, David Yordan, and outstanding prospect Custio Clayton. Coria always brings it and should present a good challenge for Okada.


Catch the main event live and other preliminary bouts this Friday at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN/6:30 p.m. ET on ESPN+


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