Ex-Sengoku Champ Kanehara Headed to Russia for July 7 Title Bout

By Chris Nelson Jun 15, 2011
Masanori Kanehara is looking to reclaim his status as a top featherweight. | Photo: Taro Irei/Sherdog.com

Onetime Sengoku featherweight titleholder Masanori Kanehara will make a rare foray onto hostile territory next month when he travels to Moscow for a showdown with up-and-comer Rasul Mirzaev.

Russian promotion Fight Nights this week announced that the matchup will headline its July 7 “Battle of Moscow 4” card at Moscow’s Aquarium Sports Arena, and will also determine the company’s inaugural 143-pound champion. Other participants confirmed for the bill include current M-1 Global welterweight champ Shamil Zavurov, M-1 veteran Mikhail Malyutin, and undefeated Rasul Magomedov.

In more than 30 bouts and nearly eight years as a professional, Kanehara has fought only twice outside his home country of Japan. The Paraestra Hachioji representative split those European trips, scoring a 2007 submission of Arunas Jurgelenas in Estonia and dropping a 2008 decision to fellow Zst vet Erikas Petraitis.

More recently, the 28-year-old Kanehara put an end to a rough skid which saw him twice punched out in a combined 2:05 by Marlon Sandro and Yoshiro Maeda. On June 5, Kanehara turned the tables by scoring his own knockout of Motoshi Miyaji at Pancrase’s “Impressive Tour 5.” The Tokyoite has won six of his last nine starts, including decisions over current UFC talent Chan Sung Jung, Michihiro Omigawa and Norifumi “Kid” Yamamoto.

Kanehara represents a significant step up in competition for Mirzaev, 25, who enters the contest perfect through four pro outings. The “Black Tiger” is off to a hot start in 2011, having opened the year by destroying Evgeni Khavilov with punches and kicks in their 62-second March meeting. Mirzaev followed one highlight-reel finish with another on May 28, this time using a slick armbar to submit Roman Kishev on the undercard of United Glory’s 2010-2011 World Series Finals in Moscow.
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