Mathieu Bauderlique continues the climb towards a world title shot
Mathieu Bauderlique is a fighter trying to live up to the lofty expectations heaped upon him since the beginning of his career. The 32-year-old from Henin-Beaumont, Pas-de-Calais, France was a member of the highly successful 2016 French Olympic boxing team. Winning light heavyweight bronze at those games, it was anticipated he would be headed towards glory and fame.
However, in June of 2017, he suffered a shocking first-round TKO loss to an unheralded Dragan Lepei. Instead of sulking, Bauderlique dusted himself off and has rebounded. He has not lost since and went on to capture the European light heavyweight title. Ranked #5 by the WBC and #7 by the IBF at 175, he has visions of winning a world title.
Bauderlique is facing Igor Mikhalkin who has been a bit of a French slayer. The former world light heavyweight title challenger has fought and defeated five fighters from France. Ranked #3 by the WBC at light heavyweight, the 36-year-old from Irkutsk, Russia is a durable fighter who is not an easy out.
Fighting at the famed Roland Garros in Paris, France, can Bauderlique continue the climb to a world title shot? For the home area fans, they hope he is the one to overcome and end Mikhalkin’s run and make him a French pastry. There’s a lot on the line in this battle of world-rated light heavyweights.
The Frenchman got off to a good start in this one. Normally a guy who likes to leave the right-hand out to find the range, this fight he fought much more compact. In a battle of southpaws, both fighters were able to get home with the left-hand.
However, Bauderlique (21-1, 12 KOs) was more consistent. Emboldened by his early success as well as fighting in front of his home country, he took the fight to Mikhalkin (24-3, 11 KOs), buzzing him with a right-hand in the third.
Bauderlique is not known as a great puncher. However, he continued to connect with the left-hand and used his physicality to force the Russian on the back foot during large chunks of the middle rounds.
NEUTRALIZING HIS STYLE
Mikhalkin has a reputation of being steady and fighting with a high work-rate. Bauderlique is a poor inside fighter. One would think the former world title challenger would get inside and go to work. The problem was he was unable to get inside the long levers of the former Olympian.
At the end of the seventh, he was visibly frustrated going into the corner. Then, suddenly the corner of Mikhalkin called the referee in and said “no mas.” Their fighter was dealing with some major discomfort to his jaw.
This has to be considered the best performance of Bauderlique’s career. It was believed Igor Mikhalkin would give him a tough go, but that wasn’t the case. With high rankings in the major sanctioning organizations, look for Bauderlique to move into world title contention in 2022.
By: Michael Wilson Jr.