Kenneth Sims, Jr. may act like his back is up against, but, in reality, it is at the wall.

That is fine with him. Being a fighter that was written off after two losses and who has now revitalized his career in recent months may be someone who can achieve his goal of still becoming a world titleholder in one of boxing’s deepest divisions. 

Sims will face Botirzhon ‘Batyr’ Akhmedov tonight inside the Chelsea Ballroom at The Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas, Nevada. The 12-round bout will open the Showtime Championship Boxing telecast, which will be headlined by the junior welterweight bout between Rolando ‘Rolly’ Romero and Ismael Barroso (9 p.m. ET/ 6 p.m. PT).

At Friday’s weigh-in, Sims weighed in at 139.2 pounds. Akhmedov weighed 138.8 pounds.

Sims (19-2-1, 7 knockouts), who resides in Chicago, Illinois, last fought on December 17, stopping Rock Dodler Myrthil in the fifth round. The win over Myrthil came almost four months after Sims stopped Cristian Mino.

The 29-year-old should be familiar to boxing fans who have tuned in to Showtime programming. Sims has fought a handful of times on ShoBox: The New Generation series. 

Sims will face an opponent who also has two losses on his record in Akhmedov (9-2, 8 KOs), both of which were in close fights. In his last bout on August 20, the 32-year-old southpaw lost to Alberto Puello and lost a questionable decision to Mario Barrios in September 2019.

The southpaw Sims was an accomplished amateur and will likely want to outbox Akhmedov, but he is not overlooking the accomplishments of Akhmedov.

“He’s a good fighter,” Sims told BoxingScene earlier this week. “He’s one of the best fighters at 140 pounds. He’s a rugged, tough fighter who comes forward and throws a lot of punches. Getting in shape is half the battle and I’ve been focused and in shape for the last eight weeks for this fight. Now my job is to beat one of the best fighters Saturday night.”

Sims had disappointing losses to Rolando Chinea in July 2017 and to Samuel Teah over a year later. He also fought to a split-decision draw against Montana Love in July 2018. 

In May 2021, Sims was able to revitalize his career, defeating top prospect Elvis Rodriguez by majority decision. He has won his last three fights since the win over Rodriguez, including a knockout victory over previously-unbeaten Keeshawn Williams, and his last six fights since the loss to Teah. 

Sims took time away from boxing after the loss to Teah, and with the brief inadvertent stoppage due to COVID-19, was able to move forward mentally.

“I was bummed out for sure and I thought my career was over (after the loss to Teah),” said Sims, who is co-trained by his father Kenneth, Sr. and Kay Koroma. “You have a loss or two on your record and people treat or think a certain way about you. Obviously zero losses hold a lot of weight. Most likely, many fighters with two losses wouldn’t be here. 

“I learned a lot about myself. I learned about nutrition and taking care of my body as well as the physical aspect in the gym. I came back after I had that mentality check as well. Everything was mental and my resurgence is due to that. It’s allowed me this opportunity. I’m more mentally prepared.”

Sims also has leaned on his family, including his father and fiance. He is the father of two kids, who reside in Chicago as Sims trains in Las Vegas. 

“My family is my personal motivation,” said Sims. “That’s where it’s at. My fiance is super supportive of me. It’s tough being away from my family, but I push forward. I have to. My dream is that boxing continues to support my journey.”

A win over Akhmedov moves Sims closer to a shot at a world title belt. Tonight’s clash is a WBA world title elimination bout.

Though Sims has overcome a lot to get to where he is at, he still wants more. After sparring with the likes with IBF world featherweight titleholder Luis Lopez and prospect Demler Zamora, Sims believes he is more than ready. He has also recently sparred against undisputed lightweight champion Devin Haney and WBC interim junior middleweight titleholder Brian Mendoza.

Sims is confident he will be victorious tonight and move forward with his career.

“Every fight is win or bust. I know what it’s like to lose and I don’t want to lose again. 

“I pretty much approach every fight the same. I have the same attitude that every fight is as important as the next. I’m enjoying the moment.

“I know I can beat any fighter at 140 pounds. Not that much separates the top from me. I’m willing to fight anyone in the division. Step one is to beat Akhmedov and then we can enter that conversation.”

Francisco A. Salazar has written for BoxingScene since September 2012 and has covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since 2000. Francisco also covers boxing for the Ventura County (California) Star newspaper. He can be reached by email at or on Twitter at FSalazarBoxing