By Alexey Sukachev
Photos: Courtesy Sauerland Events
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Unbeaten middleweight world champion Arthur Abraham (30-0, 24 KOs) retained his IBF title with a thrilling tenth-round technical knockout over German-based Turk Mahir Oral (25-2-2, 7 KOs) on Saturday night at the Max Schmeling Halle in Berlin, Germany. Abraham scored five knockdowns in all, including three in round ten before Oral’s corner stopped the fight.
The opening round was pretty calm as both fighters were focused and cautious trying not to take any punches and using their jabs to feel the space between each other. Abraham connected with a hard left to take the first stanza closely. Surprisingly, the WBA #7, IBF #11 and WBO #13 ranked Oral started to take the fight over in the second round. Oral was successful in taking the champion out of his defensive shell, scoring several times with the huge left and right hooks, when ‘King’ Arthur was opening up. Round two was all Oral’s and he also took the first two minutes of the third before being involved in a two-way exchange at the end of the stanza, which saw Abraham being a bit luckier with his huge blows. The fight seemed to be heading in a rough direction for the reigning champion, when Oral started the fourth round as confident as the previous two. But during the third minute of the fourth Abraham suddenly exploded with a huge multipunch combination, which forced Oral to lose his composure, shook him up and sent him into a hard knock-down after a thunderous right by the champion. Oral stood up on shaky legs and was lucky to survive till the ending bell of the round.
While the fight seemed about over, Oral dug deep and found some inner reserves in him to recover during a hard fifth round and even to land some bombs at the end of it. Round six saw his confidence growing up again but when the Turkish fighter was seemingly gaining his earlier composure, Abraham connected with a huge downright right hand that sent Oral down for the second time in the bout. ‘Lion” Oral was able to last till the end of the round again. Round seven was a time off for ‘King’ Arthur as he spent the whole stanza trying to find a weak spot in Oral’s unsteady defense but landed zero power punches. He began to operate with his usual frequency in the eighth; his punches easily penetrating his opponent’s block thanks to their enormous power. Round nine was once again huge for the champion who was all over the challenger. Finally, Oral took a knee at the very beginning of the tenth after another of Abraham’s furious assaults. The challenger bravely stood up only to go down two more times after body shots by Arthur Abraham. The fight was waved off at 1:23 of the tenth round, when Oral’s corner threw in the towel after the third knockdown. Abraham’s tenth successful title defense in a thrilling two-way action.
Highly ranked German middleweight contender Sebstian Sylvester (31-3, 15 KOs) scored one of the most important victories in his career, outpointing recent world title challenger LaJuan Simon (21-2-2, 10 KOs) over twelve hard-fought rounds, thus retaining his IBF International title for the first time. Scores were 117-111, 116-112 and 115-113 – all in favor of the IBF #4, WBA/WBO #6 and WBC #13 Sylvester. Both fighters started the bout cautiously, using jabs and resolving their issues on the distance. Rounds three and four were in favor of the local hero, who scored with his left hooks several times and forced IBF #10 Simon to fight at incovinient distance. In rounds five and seven Sylvester took a slight pause allowing Simon to be a more active fighter of the two but giving him not so many considerable chances. Oppositely, rounds 6 and 8 were in favour of the German fighter, who connected with his left jab at will and added right hands on occassion. In round nine, American Simon started to increase his mild tempo but Sylvester sustained his badly prepared assaults with the visible ease. Simon was more successful in the tenth stanza and he rocked Sylvester with a wicked counter left hook at the end of the eleventh. Simon barely tried to gain an unreachable win in the last round but the German fighter was a bit better at the end. Fightnews scored it 116-112 for Sebastian Sylvester, who made a huge step towards another shot at world title.
German cruiserweight prospect Alexander Frenkel (18-0, 14 KOs) looked great, stopping Argentinean journeyman Rodolfo De Dominicis (15-2-1, 11 KOs) in three brutal rounds. De Dominicis, whose only loss was to former world title challenger Ali Ismailov last autumn, tried to induce an ugly street brawl against hard-hitting technician Frenkel and had some mild success in the opening round. However, in round two Frenkel easily adjusted to his opponent’s unusual style of boxing and floored him twice after a short right hand and later with a powerful “left uppercut – right hook” combination to the chin. The end came at 1:43 of the third round, when the corner of Argentinean threw in the towel, stopping another brutal assault by Alexander Frenkel.
German-based Serbian Enad Licina (17-1, 10 KOs) looked unexpectedly rusty and out of shape, scoring a hard-fought unanimous decision over seemingly soft opposition in Mexican slugger Ignacio Esparza (14-1, 10 KOs) in the second defence of his IBF Intercontinental cruiserweight title. Chubby and slow Mexican, fighting for the first time outside of his native Guadalajara, showed a remarkable resistance and granite chin to sustain Licina’s rich offensive arsenal. On the other hand, the Serbian fighter was surprisingly inactive and was increasingly coming out of gas in later rounds, while Esparza didn’t stop delivering fast yet bad-guided combos throughout the whole fight. Obviously being a self-made fighter, the Mexican brawler showed a great punching speed and considerable defensive skills but Enad Licina (WBA #9, IBF #10 and WBC #13) was just better equipped and by far a more precise boxer of two. At the end, all three judges had it for the local fighter with the scores 116-112 and 117-111 (twice). Fightnews saw it a bit wider 118-111 for Licina, who definitely hasn’t shown his true potential.
In a heated clash for the EBU-EU welterweight title, Italian guest Leonard Bundu (19-0-1, 6 KOs) scored a hard-fought, narrow twelve-round unanimous decision over local hero Faruk Shabani (17-1, 6 KOs) by scores of 116-112, 116-113 and 115-113. Bundu retained his regalia for the first time.
26-year old Ukrainian heavyweight Oleg Platov (28-1, 22 KOs), who was previously ranked by major sanctioning bodies before his one-year-long layoff, scored a workmanlike eight-round unanimous decision over well-known Russian journeyman and upset specialist Daniil Peretyatko (16-23, 6 KOs).
In a minor upset, previously undefeated German cruiserweight prospect Martin Kempf (12-1, 5 KOs), 21, was stopped in the fourth round by unheralded Argetinean veteran Juan Manuel Garay (16-8, 10 KOs), sixteen years his older. Kempf was down twice before the stoppage.