Murojdon Akhmadaliev made the most of an undesirable situation.
Efforts to keep the 2016 Olympic Bronze medalist on Friday’s show at Madison Square Garden’s Hulu Theater in New York City resulted in his settling for a showcase fight with Colombia’s Wilner Soto. Akhmadaliev chose to have fun with the moment, toying with his overmatched late replacement before in the fourth round of their super bantamweight heat.
The night was initially to serve as a title fight for Uzkbekistan’s Akhamdaliev (7-0, 6KOs), who was prepared to challenge unified 122-pound titlist Daniel Roman. Those plans went awry when Roman was forced to withdraw from the bout due to a shoulder injury suffered late in training camp.
Determined to not let weeks of preparation go to waste, a replacement opponent was found in Soto, who was never going to be any match for a gifted former amateur such as Akhamadaliev.
As much was sensed from the opening bell, as Akhmadaliev played to the intimate but boisterous crowd on hand, flicking power shots but holding back in unleashing the entire arsenal until absolutely necessary.
Soto (22-7, 12KOs) was spared a knockdown call in round three when a body shot was ruled low. Akhamadaliev finished off the job in round four, the prodigious southpaw unloading with power shots until the bout was brought to a merciful halt.
The official time was 1:56 of round found.
The bout streamed live on DAZN in supporting capacity to an interim lightweight title fight between unbeaten contenders Devin Haney (22-0, 14KOs) and Zaur Abdullaev (11-0, 7KOs).
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox