Belfast star Steven Ward will take on undefeated Kazakh phenom Kamshybek Kunkabayev for the vacant WBO Asia Pacific cruiserweight title as part of the MTK Fight Night in Kazakhstan on Saturday 27 February.
The event takes place at the Tynyshpayev Academy of Transport and Communications in Almaty. Boxing fans in the US can watch the fight card live stream on ESPN+, and worldwide on IFL TV.
It sees Ward (13-1, 4 KOs) look to make a big statement at cruiserweight, as he takes on highly-rated Kunkabayev (2-0, 2 KOs), who as an amateur won a silver medal at both the 2017 and 2019 World Championships.
The Kazakh fighter has been just as dominant since entering the paid ranks, picking up a TKO win over 20-1 opponent Issa Akberbayev in his debut last August, before following that up by becoming the first man to stop Serhiy Radchenko in December.
Former WBO European light-heavyweight champion Ward successfully won his cruiserweight debut with a victory over Jone Volau last September, and was also recently involved in an exhibition bout with strongman Thor Bjornsson.
Elsewhere on the Ward vs Kunkabayev card, Janibek Alimkhanuly (9-0, 5 KOs) makes his much-anticipated return to his home country for the first time since 2017, as he looks to build on the incredible performances he has produced in the United States in recent years.
Nurtas Azhbenov (10-0, 4 KOs) meets Evgeny Smirnov (13-1-3, 3 KOs) for the WBC Asia Continental lightweight title, while amateur superstar Hovhannes Bachkov (1-0) takes part in his second professional fight.
Talgat Shayken (3-0, 2 KOs) steps up against former Russian champion Evgeny Pavko (18-3-1, 13 KOs), while the likes of Nurdos Tolebay (4-0, 1 KO), Ali Baloyev (10-0, 7 KOs), Abay Tolesh (6-1, 4 KOs) and more are in action on the undercard.
Head of MTK Kazakhstan Askar Salikbayev said: “We’re delighted to be bringing this amazing event to Almaty next month, featuring a superb main event between Steven Ward and Kamshybek Kunkabayev.
“Kunkabayev is an incredible talent, and faces a tough test against Ward, who deserves a lot of credit for coming to Almaty for this fight.
“There are also some superb boxers on the undercard, including Janibek Alimkhanuly, Nurtas Azhbenov, Hovhannes Bachkov, Talgat Shayken and more, so I am very excited for this card.”
Ward vs Kunkabayev fight card
- Steve Ward (13-1, 4 KOs) vs Kamshybek Kunkabayev (2-0, 2 KOs) – for vacant WBO Asia Pacific cruiserweight title
- Janibek Alimkhanuly (9-0, 5 KOs) vs. TBA
- Nurtas Azhbenov (10-0, 4 KOs) vs Evgeny Smirnov (13-1-3, 3 KOs) – for the WBC Asia Continental lightweight title
- Hovhannes Bachkov (1-0) vs TBA
- Talgat Shayken (3-0, 2 KOs) vs Evgeny Pavko (18-3-1, 13 KOs)
- Nurdos Tolebay (4-0, 1 KO) vs TBA
- Ali Baloyev (10-0, 7 KOs) vs TBA
- Abay Tolesh (6-1, 4 KOs) vs TBA