11-0 Cruiserweight Alexei Papin: A Kickboxer Boxing Mystery
By Robert Brizel, Head Real Combat Media Boxing Correspondent
When it comes to kickboxing and MMA fighters seroconverting to professional boxing, the new trend represents a brave new world for boxing promoters. Chris Algieri is among those who made the transition. Conor McGregor tried to crossover from MMA to boxing when he fought Floyd.
Alexei Papin was the WAKO Kickboxing World champion in 2011, and the WAKO-PRO Kickboxing champion in 2013. A native of Reutov, Russian Federation, Papin has 10 knockouts in his eleven wins as a cruiserweight professional boxer, and currently holds the International Boxing Federation International Cruiserweight title.
Papin, who fights 25-2 Ilunga Makabu for the vacant World Boxing Council Silver cruiserweight title on Saturday in the 12 round preliminary to the main event of Sergey Kovalev versus Anthony Yarde on ESPN at Traktor Sport Palace in Chelyabinsk, is a mystery.
The mystery evolves because Papin is a higher weight kickboxer trying to break into the top of the cruiserweight and heavyweight division. Cruiserweight is his best chance. While cruiserweight is not a big money division, it depends how he does. The kill or be killed approach of kickboxing, MMA and Muay Thai leaves many questions as to whether fighters of this instinct can transition into pro boxing, which can be highly technical in approach. Papin is a kickboxing kicker converted into a pro boxing puncher, a unique concept. Does it work? Makabu has disposed on six consecutive opponents, including Russian contender pretender Dmitry Kudyashov this past June. His past victims include 21-0 Russian contender Dmitro Kutcher. Makubu has a 12 round majority decision and an eleventh round knockout to his credit, so Papin will have to fight. Makabu, ranked sixth in the world on BoxRec, wilted in the third round again Tony Bellew in 2016, though Makabu had Bellew down in the first round and let him get away.
One thing is certain in this mystery cruiserweight bout. Only one man walks away in what has evolved into a must win bout. A knockout is the only likely outcome. Whichever way the bout swings it should be exciting to watch.