On the undercard of Canelo Alvarez and Sergey Kovalev, Bakhram Murtazaliev took on Jorge Fortea. Murtazaliev came out with a unanimous decision victory. It put Murtazaliev at a record 17-0 with 13 knockouts. We sat down with the Russian for an interview and discussed his beginnings in boxing, the fight itself and much more.
Influenced By The Greats
Bakhram Murtazaliev was influenced by the legendary Roy Jones Jr. to begin boxing. As a kid, he was mesmerized by Jones and it was ultimately what drove him to box. Murtazaliev says, “I got into boxing in 2003 after watching Roy Jones fight. I really liked his fight and I told dad to take me to the boxing gym. The next day I started to train.” The very next day. That’s all it took for Murtazaliev. And now, he is next in line to fight for the super welterweight title IBO, IBF, and WBA with Julian Williams.
Another influence is the great Muhammad Ali. “Muhammad Ali is a unique Boxer and a unique person. What he has done in the ring and outside of him is forced to admire him as a person and a boxer.”
Bakhram Murtazaliev vs. Jorge Fortea
As for the fight, Murtazaliev‘s pressure on Fortea was all part of the plan. “I usually always box like that, I like to attack,” he says. It was evident, as well. Murtazaliev applied pressure and volume the entire fight that had him cruise to a victory in Las Vegas.
The first round saw a patient Murtazaliev. He pushed forward coaxing Fortea to throw first. Murtazaliev would counter and keep Fortea guessing all round. Round two started off with more pressure from Murtazaliev. Fortea answered with a slick combo of his own that had Murtazaliev step back, only to apply more pressure. Murtazaliev was also more offensive in the beginning of the round as well. Murtazaliev continued the pressure, throwing some great combos, mixing it up to the head and body. Fortea fires back to the body and a big hook that had him right back in the round.
The end of the second round saw both boxers trading blows with each other on both the inside and from the outside. The third started out as much of the same. Murtazaliev pushed forward towards Fortea. This time, Fortea fires back and Murtazaliev was forced to throw off his back foot. Fortea dropped his head low with his hands down, but Murtazaliev didn’t take the bait and Fortea became impatient and threw several combos with Murtazaliev’s guard up. The two stepped to the middle of the ring and started exchanging at close range. Murtazaliev poured on two and three shots at a time, overwhelming Fortea. Fortea eventually retreated from the close proximity with Murtazaliev, but the Russian pushed forward.
At the end of the third round, Murtazaliev continued to frustrate Fortea until the bell rung, suffocating him with just one or two shots at a time.
Round four opens up with Fortea coming in close to Murtazaliev and launching a flurry into Murtazaliev’s guard. But, Murtazaliev presses forward and looks to keep the pressure up as he did in the first quarter of the fight. Murtazaliev backs Fortea in the corner. He launches several shots to Fortea’s guard and Fortea counters back. They step back to the center of the ring and Murtazaliev launches two shots and Fortea counters quick but it doesn’t phase Murtazaliev. The round ends with Murtazaliev pressing forward and firing shots into Fortea’s guard.
At the end Murtazaliev drops his hands and then fires two giant shots at Fortea that doesn’t land clean. At the start of round five, Murtazaliev comes out with a smile. He pressures Fortea into a corner again and starts peppering him once again. Fortea escapes and Murtazaliev doesn’t let up. Fortea starts moving his head and Murtazaliev just lands shots and seemingly knows where Fortea will be next. As the announcers ogle over Fortea, they seemingly overlook the fact that Murtazaliev is starting to run away with this fight.
Round six begins with Murtazaliev just throwing punch after punch with the occasional counter from Fortea. But Fortea is seemingly has trouble processing under all the pressure. Murtazaliev and Fortea get in close at the end of the sixth and both exchange big punches mixing it up to the head and the body.
In the seventh, Fortea starts to push forward and Murtazaliev counters that with his jab pushing Fortea back. Fortea gets in close and Murtazaliev lands an uppercut and two shots to the head. Murtazaliev puts on a tumultuous pace and Fortea becomes passive looking for a counter that isn’t there. He throws a couple that are nowhere near being a threat to Murtazaliev. In the eighth, both Murtazaliev and Fortea start throwing heat at each other with hands as fast as they were in the first round. Fortea soon becomes passive again, accepting Murtazaliev’s jab as a thing of life now. Murtazaliev just peppers him up over and over, with little to no answer. Fortea lands two huge body shots. Murtazaliev continued to pepper and Fortea throws a couple overhand rights that miss big and Murtazaliev punishes him for it. Round nine begins a as both fighters smile at each other. They’re having a good time and a good knock in the ring. The entire round had Fortea leaning in on Murtazaliev and Murtazaliev kept the volume up, landing punch after punch. When Fortea did get inside he threw everything under the kitchen sink at him to no effect. Murtazaliev took the shot, reset, and went back to his volume game again.
Round ten was much of the same from Murtazaliev; smothering volume and Fortea being overwhelmed. Fortea started trying odd, and drastic footwork but Murtazaliev did a good job keeping Fortea in front of him and throwing more combinations. At the end of the round, Murtazaliev connected with a big hook that looked to wobble Fortea slightly but Fortea remained calm and survived the round. The eleventh round was much of the same. Fortea did have more output but Murtazaliev answered back each and every shot. The final round started as the two fighters met in the middle and touched gloves in a sign of mutual respect. Fortea begins with more odd footwork and Murtazaliev keeps up the pressure. In this round, Fortea puts out more than he had the entire second half of the fight. He and Murtazaliev have some great exchanges. But, Fortea doesn’t get enough done and Murtazaliev is handed the victory.
As for his performance, Murtazaliev is happy to please his coaches, which he feels he did with his performance on Canelo-Kovalev.
“For me, the most important thing is that my coach be pleased with my fight, I fully tried to do what he told me.”
What’s next for Murtazaliev?
His next step might just be a title shot. Bakhram Murtazaliev became a mandatory for Julian Williams with his win in Las Vegas. But if that’s in the cards or not remains to be seen. Whatever it may be, Murtazaliev plans to take the advice of his team. “I need to ask my promoter and manager,” says Murtazaliev. “I box with whom they are talking. But I hope that the next fight will be for the world title.”
Russians are all the rage in combat sports. With wrestlers being dominated by Russians, and the emergence of UFC superstar, Khabib Nurmagomedov, Murtazaliev doesn’t follow other fighters.
“I do not chase other athletes who have achieved great results. I just do my job as much as I can. If I will be destined by the will of the Almighty to achieve great success, I will be very happy. God knows what is best for us.”
Bakhram Murtazaliev has similar career goals as other boxers. Don’t take that as a lack of creativity. He wants to be a world title holder. “I want to achieve the greatest results. But first, to win at least one world title.
Outside of boxing, Murtazaliev has other hobbies. “When I go on vacation to Russia I really like to play soccer.”
Bakhram Murtazaliev looks to get his shot at Julian Williams now that he’s become the mandatory. Whether that fight is to be made or not remains to be seen. Until then, Murtazaliev will keep his head down and continue to put in the work to get to that point.
Make sure to follow Bakhram Murtazaliev on Instagram to keep up with his fight journey!