Kholmatov: ‘Ford’s Nothing Special’

Boxing Scene

Otabek Kholmatov confronts the highly-touted Raymond Ford for the vacant WBA featherweight title in this weekend’s most intriguing fight. 

Both put their undefeated records on the line at the Turning Stone Resort & Casino in Verona, New York live on ESPN+ on Saturday night. 

Kholmatov, 12-0, (11 KOs), has flown slightly under the radar until now. The talented Uzbek fought limited opponents in his first seven fights after turning professional in 2021. He remarkably recorded nine knockout victories within just four months of joining the paid ranks.

He started to gain notoriety as a serious featherweight contender with a dominant 12-round decision over the undefeated Andranik Grigorian in Orlando. A year later, he flew to England to stop the undefeated Thomas Patrick Ward inside five rounds. Ward was down three times before his corner threw in the towel.

“This fight is just the beginning of my journey and towards the pinnacle of the sport, glory and universal recognition,” Kholmatov, 25, told “My whole country is at home waiting for my victory because boxing is the most popular sport in Uzbekistan. 

“I always have my country behind me. 

“I am thoroughly prepared. I have never felt so good to be honest. We’ve worked a lot on improving my defense. I see nothing but victory for me and Uzbekistan on Saturday. I am very excited about the upcoming fight with Ray Ford. I’m grateful to my promoter Svyatoslav Mangushev with his team at Undisputed Boxing Championship and my manager Alex Vaysfeld for creating this great opportunity to fight for the WBA championship title. It will be a dream come true to become world champion.” 

Kholmatov will have to overcome the equally impressive 24-year-old Ford before he can become world champion. The Camden southpaw has risen to the top of the featherweight ranks as one of America’s most exciting young fighters. Like Kholmatov, Ford also came to British shores to gain industry recognition with a knockout victory when he stopped Reece Bellotti in three rounds. His past two fights have involved him defeating Sakaria Lukas and Jessie Magdaleno.

“I don’t think he is very good,” Kholmatov explained. “I really don’t expect much from Ford at all, he doesn’t have any power. I don’t think he’ll last more than five rounds with me. You will see. Just like in all my previous fights, you will see another beautiful knockout. Ford is nothing special.”

They will contest the world title vacated by England’s Leigh Wood. The two-time champion was mandated to face Kholmatov last year before letting go of his belt. 

“Leigh Wood has never been a real champion,” Kholmatov added. “He was afraid to fight me, otherwise he would have faced his challenges. My name, not his, will remain in the history of world boxing.”

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