Blue chip prospect and top-ten ranked light heavyweight Ali Izmailov will face the toughest test of his young career when he takes on former world title challenger Radivoje “Hot Rod” Kalajdzic on Friday, October 21 live on SHOWTIME at 9:30 p.m. ET/PT in the latest edition of SHOBOX: The New Generation. The telecast features five undefeated prospects and six fighters with a combined record of 88-2 and returns to Bally’s Atlantic City Hotel & Casino, site of the first SHOBOX® 21 years ago for the second show in as many months.
The John David Jackson-trained Izmailov (9-0, 6 KOs) and veteran power-puncher Kalajdzic (27-2, 19 KOs) will square off in a 10-round light heavyweight bout. The co-feature matches a pair of undefeated, aggressive prospects in Isaiah Steen (16-0, 12 KOs) clashing with Elvis Figueroa (11-0, 7 KOs) in an eight-round super middleweight contest. The telecast opens with Sean Hemphill (14-0, 8 KOs) taking on David Stevens (11-0, 8 KOs) in another intriguing eight-round super middleweight matchup between undefeated American prospects. Included in the telecast will be highlights of perennial spoiler and SHOBOX alum Marquis Taylor (12-1-2, 1 KO) taking on undefeated Marlon Harrington (8-0, 7 KOs) in an eight-round super welterweight attraction.
Here is a closer look at the matchups:
Izmailov vs. Kalajdzic – 10-Round Light Heavyweihgt Main Event Bout
Ranked No. 7 by the WBC, No. 9 by the IBF and No. 11 by the WBO after just nine fights, Izmailov is a fast-rising force in the light heavyweight division. A former amateur standout having won multiple elite international tournaments, Izmailov, economical and efficient in the ring, has been matched tough throughout his professional career. In his second fight, he cruised to a six-round unanimous decision over 30-fight veteran Dmitry Sukhotskiy and followed that up with a dominant performance against once-beaten Sergei Ekimov. Since making his U.S. debut in October 2021, Izmailov is 4-0 with 3 KOs against competition with a combined record of 51-10. He has back-to-back wins over undefeated opponents, including most recently a unanimous decision over Eric Murguia in August. Originally from Malgobek, Russia, the 29-year-old Izmailov works and resides with trainer Jackson in Florida.
“I am excited to make my debut on SHOBOX against a very experienced and proven fighter like Kalajdzic,” said the Salita-promoted Izmailov. “I will bring my toolbox and put it to work on October 21 and show the world why I’m the future of the light heavyweight division.”
Kalajdzic, currently ranked No. 7 by the WBO, has proven throughout his 29-fight career that he’s a player in the 175-pound division, unafraid to test himself against the very best. A 6-foot-2 native of Bosnia and Herzegovina, “Hot Rod” turned pro in 2011 and won his first 21 fights before meeting 2012 U.S. Olympian and then-undefeated Marcus Browne in 2016. Kalajdzic, 31, lost a controversial eight-round split decision but rebounded with three straight stoppage victories to earn a world title shot against Artur Beterbiev in 2019. Among those three victories was a 2016 SHOBOX main event fifth-round TKO victory over former amateur standout Travis Peterkin. Against Beterbiev, Kalajdzic suffered a fifth-round loss but has again rebounded with three straight victories as he seeks a shot at redemption and world title glory.
“Not to overlook Ali Izmailov, as he’s a good fighter, but I can affirm that I’m one of the best light heavyweights in the world,” said Kalajdzic, who lives and trains in St. Petersburg, Fla. “This fight will put me in contention for a world title and I’m confident everyone will see that I belong in the conversation with Dmitry Bivol, Gilberto Ramirez, Anthony Yarde, and those guys. I’m grateful for the opportunity DiBella Entertainment and my management were able to put together with this fight. Expect my best performance come October 21.”
“Hot Rod’s only true loss was to Artur Beterbiev. Everyone saw him get robbed against Marcus Browne,” said Lou DiBella, Kalajdzic’s promoter and President of DiBella Entertainment. “He’s a genuine top contender and will prove it against Ali Izmailov on October 21.”
Steen vs. Figueroa – Eight-Round Super Middleweight Bout
Steen returns to SHOBOX after recording the biggest win of his career against the previously undefeated Kalvin Henderson on July 2021 on SHOBOX (Highlights HERE). An aggressive, come-forward fighter who likes to dig to the body, Steen is the half-brother of super welterweight contender and former U.S. Olympian Charles Conwell. The two shared the same card in August 2020 when Steen of Cleveland, Ohio showed off his power with a first-round TKO of tough Kenneth Council. That was the seventh time Steen stopped his opponent in the first round. Like his half-brother, the 6-2 Steen was a decorated amateur, going 85-15 in the unpaid ranks before he turned pro in 2016. Born in Detroit, Mich., Steen started boxing when he was seven.
“Fighting on SHOWTIME is a huge milestone in my career,” Steen said. “I have stayed in the gym since my last fight on July 23, 2021. My team has made sure that my weight and nutrition are on point. I know I can defeat anyone placed in front of me. Teamwork definitely makes the dream work.”
Figueroa will enter the ring for the third time this year after stopping tough veteran Fidel Monterrosa Munoz in two rounds on August 20. The six-foot New Haven, Conn. product has stopped five of his last six opponents, employing a poised, patient, and hard-punching style. The lone decision was against Ryan Adams on the undercard of a January 7, 2022, edition of SHOBOX in Orlando, Fla. Figueroa, 25, started boxing when he was eight to lose weight and began his amateur career four years later. He is a three-time New England Golden Gloves champion and 2015 USA National Championship silver medalist. Among his amateur victories, he owns a decision win over undefeated super middleweight contender Edgar Berlanga.
Hemphill vs. Stevens – Eight-Round Super Middleweight Bout
Trained by Hall of Famer James “Buddy” McGirt, Hemphill made his pro debut in 2019 and has already reeled off 14 consecutive wins after a standout amateur career. In his last bout, Hemphill scored an eight-round unanimous decision over Jeyson Minda in front of his hometown New Orleans fans in January. The 26-year-old known as “Silky” fought three times in 2021, four times in 2020 and six times in 2019. Stevens will be the first undefeated opponent of Hemphill’s career with multiple wins.
“This fight means a lot to me,” Hemphill said. “I understand how big of an opportunity fighting on SHOWTIME is for my team and me. This is something I’ve been working towards since I was a kid. I feel like I was born to do this, and I’m ready to show the world why I belong on this stage! Camp is going well with coach Buddy McGirt. He has a lot of knowledge and wisdom that I can use and soak up to help improve my game and skill set.”
Added McGirt, “Sean is a great prospect and a pleasure to work with. He has all the tools to succeed, and I believe, one day, he will become a world champion.”
Stevens, trained by Shields, will enter the ring for the fourth time this year on October 21 when he makes his SHOBOX debut. His busy schedule includes a second-round stoppage of Loris Barberio on July 23 and a first-round TKO of veteran Colby Courter on May 28. The 22-year-old Stevens of Reading, Pa., has stopped four of his last five opponents, relying on a polished skillset and aggressive, hard-punching style. He started boxing when he was 11 and went 60-8 in the amateurs. Among his amateur highlights, he is a two-time Junior Olympic gold medalist, a Silver Gloves champion, Ringside champion, USA Boxing Youth national champion and a Youth World Championships qualifier.
“I am excited and thrilled to be on SHOBOX in my 12th fight,” Stevens said. “Since training with Ronnie Shields, I have learned so much and will show it on October 21.”
Added Shields, “The thing about David is we don’t know how strong he is yet. I know he’s strong, but I’ve been getting him to focus more on technique than he used to. That makes him very hard to beat. He’s one of those kids who wants to learn everything in the gym. When a kid like him wants to learn everything, every day, I like it because I know I have to bring my A game to the gym all the time. He will go a long way.”
Taylor vs. Harrington – Eight-Round Super Welterweight Bout (Highlights Only)
The 28-year-old Taylor is a nine-year veteran whose toughness and smooth boxing skills have proven to be a puzzle for everyone he’s faced. Taylor fought the undefeated former amateur star Paul Kroll to a controversial split draw on SHOBOX on February 18. He also owns victories over three then-undefeated fighters including Jimmy Williams (14-0-1) and Sanjarbek Rakhmanov (10-0-1), who have both appeared on SHOBOX, and Oscar Torres (8-0). Taylor refined his boxing tools in the amateurs, where he went 130-20.
After turning pro in 2019, Detroit’s Harrington has proven to be a quick study in the ring, knocking out seven of his eight opponents and making quick work with no one advancing past the fourth round. Harrington, who started boxing when he was 19, has worked on his trade through sparring with former champions like Tony Harrison and Cornelius “K9” Bundrage. An aggressive, fan-friendly fighter, Harrington will see action for the fourth time this year on October 21 after last fighting on May 26, knocking out Azael Cosio in the fourth round.