MEADOW LANDS – Washington’s Jason Bergman has been involved with boxing long enough to realize things, and even opponents, can change quickly.
But after spending months preparing to defend his WBA, NABA USA heavyweight title against unbeaten Jason Jones at The Meadows Racetrack & Casino as the co-headliner of The Madness at The Meadows card, Bergman was thrown a curve Wednesday.
“(Jones) just called (promoter) Frank Luca and said he was out,” Bergman said Thursday in a promotional event for the fight. “He didn’t give a reason. He just hung up the phone and wouldn’t answer. Either his training didn’t go properly, his head wasn’t in it, or …”
He watched some video of Bergman knocking out opponents?
“Maybe some combination of those three,” Bergman said with a laugh. “We got a new guy. They brought a guy from (Uzbekistan). He looks like a good competitor. It should be a good night.”
The “new guy” would be Ahror “Aha” Muralimov, a native of Uzbekistan who moved to Houston, Texas, in 2011. Muralimov is 15-0 with 12 wins by knockout, though two of his last three fights have gone to a decision.
There was a silver lining to the change. While Jones hadn’t fought recently and had little video available for scouting purposes, Muralimov has been active, stepping into the ring five times since 2012. Many of his fight videos are available online.
Muralimov wasn’t available at yesterday’s event because of the late change. If there was any question about Muralimov’s style, he answered that in an interview with the Houston Chronicle.
“I’m an offensive fighter,” Muralimov told the newspaper. “I like to attack all the time.”
That suits Bergman, who owns 16 wins by knockout.
“I was very fortunate. The guy’s height and weight were almost exactly the same (as me),” said Bergman of the 6-0, 230-pound Muralimov. “That was kind of a good thing. We were training for sort of a shorter person. That worked out really good. Actually, I think this guy is a little more tailor-made for me. He likes to come forward. I think he’s going to do just that, which is exactly what I want.
“This guy actually has got some video on YouTube. We actually have got something to go off of. The other guy didn’t. It will look better on the rankings for me to beat this guy. He’s been more active. He’s fought more lately. It will just look better.”
Bergman is currently rated 27th in the American Boxing Association heavyweight rankings. A victory over Muralimov could give him a big boost.
“It’s possible that we’ll get up to the 15th position in the world,” the 30-year-old Bergman said. “That will be a big jump. It would be nice. It’s been a long road. It’s time. Hopefully, we’ll do a few more fights here and then hopefully bring a world title back to Pittsburgh.”
Bergman’s meeting with Muralimov won’t be the lone title fight at The Meadows tomorrow.
Tommy Karpency (22-4-1), who grew up next door to Bergman in Adah, will fight Dhafir Smith (24-24-7) for the vacant WBA, NABA and Pennsylvania State Light Heavyweight titles. Karpency previously fought for the IBO and WBO world championships.
Both championship fights will be 10-round bouts.
In the other bouts, a pair of unbeaten young fighters, Danny Karpency (2-0) and Rick Morias (1-0) will square off in a light middleweight matchup; welterweights Amonte Everhart, who will be making his pro debut, and Glenn Walls (0-2) will meet; and Cian Dalton (3-0-1) will fight Lawrence Blakey (1-0).
Doors open at 6 p.m. with the fights scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m.
While limited tickets remain to the event, it will be shown live inside the casino.