Kanat Islam has plowed through all 20 of his opponents in his 3½-year professional career, but Sunday night he will be facing his most difficult rival to date in hammer-fisted Juan De Angel.
De Angel has won his last nine bouts, including eight by stoppage. The 28-year-old Colombian will be seeking his fourth straight knockout when he faces Kanat Islam in a 154-pound headlining bout scheduled for 10 rounds at the Lakeland Center in Lakeland, Florida (Bounce TV, 9 p.m. ET/PT).
Juan De Angel (18-3-1, 17 KOs) experienced his last defeat in April 2013, when current unbeaten 168-pound world champion Gilberto Ramirez scored a third-round knockout in a bout contested at 161 pounds.
“Colombians are sick punchers who are dangerous in the beginning of the fight,” said Nelson Lopez Jr., Islam’s manager and assistant trainer. “So obviously, the first few rounds, we’re not looking to engage. Kanat’s been sparring with bigger guys on purpose so that he doesn’t engage.”
Said Islam: “My sparring partners are all 175-pounders. I’ve faced a cruiserweight and also some smaller guys for speed, which I plan to show in this next fight.”
It’s not as if Islam (20-0, 17 KOs) doesn’t pack plenty of power of his own, however. The 31-year-old has stopped his last eight opponents inside of the distance, including a first-round KO of Jonathan Batista in his last fight in November.
“I want to display all of my boxing skills,” Islam said, “so we’ve been practicing moving and jabbing and touching guys up. I think you could see this fight going four or five rounds.”
Islam is of Kazakhstan descent, but was born in China as Hanati Silamu. He lived in China for the first 25 years of his life, and represented the country in two Olympics, earning a bronze medal at the 2008 Beijing Games.
The 5-foot-10 Islam became a citizen of Kazakhstan in 2011, and now lives and trains in Pahokee, Florida, under the guidance of Nelson Lopez Sr.
“We’re fighting a guy who is tall with a good jab, but I’m not worried because [Islam has] faced a lot of tall guys in his time,” Lopez Sr. said of the 6-foot De Angel. “We are facing a tough kid with a really strong right hand, but he’s a stand-up guy who doesn’t show you too many angles. We’re confident that Kanat will break him down and stop him before the 10th round.”
With his propensity for knockouts, Islam has drawn comparisons to countryman and long-reigning unbeaten 160-pound world champion Gennady Golovkin, who has stopped 32 of his 35 opponents. While Islam won't be looking to wipe out De Angel immediately, he and his team do expect to extend their knockout streak to nine in a row.
“By the fourth or fifth rounds, Kanat’s movement and De Angel’s anxiousness to get to Kanat should wear him down a little bit,” Lopez Jr. said. “Not saying that the kid is no good, but whether we’re fighting inside or outside, Kanat needs to make this is a very easy fight showing he can handle this type of opposition with no problem.
“I don’t want people saying Kanat’s a big bully who threw wild punches and knocked out a bum. I want them to say, ‘You know what? He went in there, stayed in the pocket, showed good movement, good angles, landed clean shots and countered perfectly.’ I want them saying he completely outclassed this guy and displayed his superiority.”
For a complete overview of Islam vs De Angel, visit our fight page.