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Martin Bakole could snare big-name rivals like Oleksandr Usyk and Daniel Dubois with 'explosive' performance

Martin Bakole fights the "Hulk" Ihor Shevadzutskyi on Saturday, live on Sky Sports; Promoter Ben Shalom says he needs "to show how explosive he can be" but can put himself on course for big heavyweight fights with fighters like Oleksandr Usyk, Daniel Dubois, Joe Joyce and more

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Martin Bakole says he made a mistake sparring the likes of Anthony Joshua and Oleksandr Usyk as they now avoid him and is targeting a big fight with AJ in the future.

Martin Bakole has been set a challenge. An "explosive" performance against Ihor Shevadzutskyi could deliver the big-name heavyweight clash he craves, says promoter Ben Shalom.

Bakole is determined to gatecrash the top of the heavyweight division. Highly ranked with the WBA already, those options will open up for Bakole if he can defeat the Ukrainian "Hulk" Shevadzutskyi on Saturday, live on Sky Sports.

Promoter Ben Shalom wants to see Bakole make a statement in his fight with Shevadzutskyi at the G2A Arena in Rzeszow, Poland this weekend.

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Promoter Ben Shalom is delighted to have signed a new multi-fight deal with Martin Bakole.

"Obviously the Hulk's never been beaten before," Shalom told Sky Sports. "It's a big test.

"Martin will want to put on an explosive performance."

The promoter continued: "He needs to stop him in six rounds, I think. He'll want to show how explosive he can be. He's not fought since he fought [Tony] Yoka out in Paris last year. Yoka's since lost to [Carlos] Takam and so he needs to put in a statement.

"If he puts on a statement then everything opens up for him. He wants Daniel Dubois for the Interim [or regular] title with the WBA. He wants to fight Oleksandr Usyk. That would be the aim."

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Opportunities abound in the heavyweight division. Usyk and Dubois are in negotiations to fight for the unified WBA, WBO and IBF titles. WBC champion Tyson Fury, Anthony Joshua and Dillian Whyte have not yet scheduled their next fights.

"If [Dubois'] fight against Usyk is not happening, after Saturday's fight the only person I will call out is Daniel Dubois because he's got the belt I want to be No 1 for Usyk or anybody," Bakole told Sky Sports.

"He's No 1 regular in the WBA and I'm No 2 ranking so that is an easy fight to make so we don't need to talk too much.

Martin Bakole
Image: Martin Bakole is within striking distance of a world title fight

Bakole is adamant he deserves that fight with Dubois. "He's the challenger because he's the regular champion and he deserves it," he said.

"He needs to say yes to fight me if he wins, because I would maybe be No 1 after this fight. Boxing is politics now, my team are working hard to get me this fight.

"People are avoiding me now, I have been calling them out, mentioning everybody and nobody has mentioned me or responded.

"I'll work hard to be No 1 challenger, so no more avoiding."

It's a division that can change rapidly too. Zhilei Zhang has just upset Joe Joyce to put himself in the frame for an eventual WBO title.

Bakole is one of the younger heavyweights looking to barge their way into contention.

With his No 2 ranking with the WBA, Bakole could be the type of opponent Joyce would look to come back against.

"You'd hope so but I would imagine Joe might want a different type of fight. For me Martin Bakole beats Zhang. Let's see, Martin Bakole would love the Zhang fight, would love the Joyce fight," Shalom said.

"It showed on Saturday night that anyone can beat anyone in the heavyweight division."

He added: "I think Martin will be looking at the performances of Dillian Whyte and Anthony Joshua and thinking it's wide open and I think fans just appreciate when fighters take the fights.

Oleksandr Usyk (right) and Martin Bakole - Boxing
Image: Oleksandr Usyk (right) has had Martin Bakole in as a sparring partner

"I saw a lot of people saying, 'Oh it was the wrong fight for Joyce.' That just shows the mentality of boxing right now - basically to avoid those type of fights. But it gives the fans excitement and what they want.

"The fighters can fight again. Hopefully it can get to a stage where fighters will jump in, will be consistent in their fights and hopefully Joe will fight a couple more times this year.

"But for Martin Bakole, he's 10 years younger than both of those guys and wants the big fights. He's got to have a big statement performance on Saturday night and hopefully he can get a big fight."

An impressive showing will help Bakole press his case for a clash with one of those high-profile heavyweights.

"He's got to put on a statement Saturday night. He'll be looking to see what happens with Usyk. What happens with Joyce and Zhang. The Dillian Whyte fight, he wants the Anthony Joshua fight, he's ready to go," Shalom said.

Tyson Fury (right) has been sparring with Martin Bakole (Twitter: @MartinBakole17)
Image: Tyson Fury (right) is another top heavyweight who has sparred Bakole

"He's a young heavyweight and it's great timing for him and looking for big fights in the next 12 months."

If nothing is given to him, Bakole is determined to force his way to those fights. "All the top guys, I made the mistake of sparring them and now they're avoiding me," he said. "If I'm giving them a hard time in sparring imagine it with the proper gloves on in a fight.

"I'm already top 10, but I'm seeing myself in top five because I don't see anybody that can give me a hard time there.

"They know I'll give them a hard time, that's why they never mention my name, I always mention their name and call them out.

"Before they were saying he's got no rankings or anything, but today I'm No 2 in the WBA.

"I'm ready to face anybody. Especially in the UK I'm top five, you can't mention five names without mentioning Martin Bakole.

"They're avoiding me."

Watch Martin Bakole vs Ihor Shevadzutskyi on the Lukasz Rozansku vs Alen Babic undercard this Saturday live on Sky Sports.

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