LAS VEGAS – The victory that vaulted Vincent Astrolabio into this place didn’t precisely make Nikolai Potapov take discover.

The Philippines’ Astrolabio upset former two-division champion Guillermo Rigondeaux by unanimous choice to earn a spot in a 12-round IBF bantamweight elimination match in opposition to Potapov on Saturday evening. Astrolabio dropped the closely favored Rigondeaux, a Cuban southpaw who was 41 after they fought, within the eighth spherical February 26 in Dubai and consequently barely gained by the identical rating, 95-94, on all three scorecards.

Potapov promised that Astrolabio will encounter a way more energetic, hungrier opponent after they struggle within the opener of Showtime’s three-bout broadcast from The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas (10 p.m. ET; 7 p.m. PT).

“Astrolabio is an effective fighter, a troublesome fighter,” Potapov advised by means of a translator. “The struggle versus Rigondeaux wasn’t very spectacular to me as a result of Rigondeaux appeared utterly completed. He didn’t have any need to win the struggle, but when not for the knockdown, the struggle would’ve been a draw. However with that being stated, I’m taking him very critically and we’ve been coaching as if this was for the world title. I’m supremely ready for this struggle.”

Russia’s Potapov (23-2-1, 11 KOs) is ranked third by the IBF in its 118-pound rankings. Astrolabio (17-3, 12 KOs) is ranked sixth by the IBF.

The winner will turn into the IBF’s necessary challenger for undefeated, undisputed bantamweight champ Naoya Inoue (24-0, 21 KOs). Japan’s Inoue might transfer as much as the junior featherweight restrict of 122 kilos for his subsequent struggle, which would depart the Potapov-Astrolabio winner to struggle second-ranked Puerto Rican contender Emmanuel Rodriguez (21-2, 13 KOs, 1 NC), who misplaced the IBF belt to Inoue in Could 2019, for an unclaimed championship.

Regardless, Potapov is grateful for an additional probability to place himself for a title shot after dropping what was thought-about a controversial 12-round majority choice to Chicago’s Joshua Greer Jr. (then 20-1-1) in July 2019 at Prudential Heart in Newark, New Jersey.

“I put the Greer struggle behind me,” Potapov stated. “One of many issues that I do know that I might’ve improved on was to be slightly bit extra lively within the eleventh and twelfth rounds, which is what I’d do on this struggle. I really feel that I gained the struggle [against Greer], however the lesson I discovered was to win much more convincingly. That’s what the plan is for December seventeenth.”

The Potapov-Astrolabio bout will precede two extra title eliminators Showtime will televise Saturday evening.

Venezuela’s Jose Uzcategui (32-4, 27 KOs) and Russia’s Vladimir Shishkin (13-0, 8 KOs) are set to fulfill within the 12-round co-feature, an IBF tremendous middleweight elimination match. Indianapolis’ Frank Martin (16-0, 12 KOs) and the Dominican Republic’s Michel Rivera (24-0, 14 KOs) are scheduled to struggle within the 12-round important occasion, a WBA light-weight eliminator.

Keith Idec is a senior author/columnist for He may be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing. 

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