By Uwe Betker
On January 23, Arena Box Promotion staged its 5th boxing event in Cuxhaven, Germany. The card had numerous notable fights highlighted by heavyweight Ondrej Pala (25-2, 18 KOs) who outpointed veteran Robert Hawkins (23-13, 7 KOs) over over eight, heavyweight Konstantin Airich (12-2-2, 10 KOs) who fought to a second draw with Alex Mazikin (13-4-2, 3 KOs), unbeaten heavyweight Yakup Saglam (24-0, 21 KOs) who annihilated Yuri Lunev (5-12, 2 KOs) in two, middleweight contender Mahir Oral (27-2-2, 10 KOs), who barely got by Fabio Liggieri (10-5-4, 2 KOs), and the Germany debut of 2008 Olympic gold medalist Felix Diaz (4-0, 3 KOs).
In the first fight of the evening Jaromir Soukup (17-1, 13 KOs) from the Czech Republic met the Latvian Florians Strupits (2-11, 2 KOs). Overall the cruiserweight match was more of a light sparring session than a real fight. In the first three rounds Strupits nearly exhausted himself in his endeavor not to hurt his opponent, and was rewarded for this noble gesture in the fourth round by a right to his temple, which sent him to the floor. He got up, received another right, this time to the chin, and was counted out (4th round, 1:21).
Photos: Claudius Schell
Click the photo to go to the next photo
The second match had Patrick Dobroschi (9-0-1, 2 KOs) from Cologne against Jevgenijs Kiselevs (5-6-0, 4 KOs) from Latvia. Light heavyweight Dobroschi, who in the future will box for the new promoter, Felix Sturm, showed a strong performance. He showed some nice combinations and explosive power, and dominated his opponent at will (60:53, 60:52, 60:53).
The fight that followed was nothing but a scandal. The German super middleweight Christian Pawlak from Herford (13-3-0, 7 KOs) was up against Deniss Sirjatovs (3-15-1, 2 KOs), another Latvian. Pawlak, a protégé of ex-world champion Graciano Rocchigiani, dominated his opponent in every way and soon sent him to his knees with a heavy uppercut. The Ukrainian referee Aleksandr Schunkow saw no reason to interfere but calmly watched as Pavlak hauled off and finished the defenseless Latvian with a massive right hand. Instead of disqualifying Pavlak, the referee counted out the Latvian on the floor (1st round, 2:09).
The only female boxing match of the evening showed the unbeaten minimumweight Özlem Sahin (7-0-1, 3 KOs) from Ludwigsburg against Olga Harton (0-1) from Romania. In her last fight against Janina Bentz (10/10/2009) Harton had lost rather controversially. Sahin used the first round to study her opponent and set priorities. In the second round she got down to business. Sahin cornered Harton and landed some solid left-right combinations. After the third combination the Belgian referee Daniel van der Wiele stopped the fight. He said later, “I had to take her out. I saw in her eyes that she was passing out. Her eyes were rolling back into her head.” The fight was in the flyweight division (2nd round TKO, 0:24).
Next, unbeaten Yakup Saglam (23-0-0, 20 KOs), whose aim is to box against Sinan Samil Sam, had an easy time with his opponent Yuri Lunev (5-11-0, 2 KOs) from Russia. The Turkish heavyweight sought an early decision and showered the Russian with hooks and swings. In the second round, one of Saglam’s right hooks put an end to Lunev’s flight and sent him to the floor. The referee counted to eight and asked him if he was alright. Lunev said no and the match was over (2nd round TKO, 2:02).
The Turkish middleweight Mahir Oral (26-2-2, 10 KOs) is being prepared for a new shot at the world championship. His opponent, Fabio Liggieri (10-4-4, 2 KOs) from Italy, was therefore chosen with care. Liggieri forced Oral to fight, but Oral reacted too passively, sometimes appearing even lethargic. Oral seemingly had problems with his unorthodox opponent and often would look to his corner seeking advice. He was neither able to make use of his advantage in reach nor to employ his jab. Oral dragged himself from round to round, but in the end his single punches were clearer and that won him the fight (76-76, 78-77, 78-77).
Felix Diaz (3-0, 2 KOs), Olympic gold medalist of Beijing 2008, boxed the first time in Germany, and his fight against the Czech Bronislav Kubin (9-1, 5 KOs) was eagerly awaited by the audience. The man from the Dominican Republic fulfilled all expectations and the Czech played not more than a decorative role, especially with regard to the speed and technical abilities of 26-year-old Diaz. It almost seemed as if Diaz was playing with his opponent. In the third round a fast counter hook to Kubin’s chin ended the unequal fight (3rd round KO, 1:49).
In the next match heavyweight Konstantin Airich (12-2-1, 10 KOs) from Hamburg again met the Ukrainian Alex Mazikin (13-4-1, 3 KOs). Mazikin had stopped Airich’s win streak by achieving a draw on March 14, 2008. After that Airich was defeated by Danny Williams and Ondrej Pala. Saturday’s fight was to redeem the 31-year-old Airich and give a new impetus to his career. The plan did not work out. Actually, the match almost turned into a disaster for Airich. Mazikin was the better and more versatile boxer. In the third round Mazikin incurred two penalty points for repeated low blows, which resulted in Airich having to take less hooks to the body but more punches to the head in the following two rounds. In the sixth round a swelling on Mazikin’s right eyelid burst but Airich could not turn that to his advantage. The referees’ majority draw after eight rounds was a post Christmas present for Airich (77: 75, 76:76, 76:76), who later declared that he had gone into the fight with a hurt elbow.
The last fight of the evening was between Czech Ondrej Pala (24-2, 18 KOs), who had managed to defeat both Airich and Mazikin in Cuxhaven and was rewarded with a contract, and Robert Hawkins (23-12, 7 KOs) from the USA. The 39-year-old warhorse Hawkins showed the entire range of all the experience he has gathered in fights with boxing greats like Eddie Chambers, Samuel Peter, Kevin Johnson, David Tua, Denis Boytsov, Oleg Maskaev and Wladimir Virchis. While his punches almost always hit Pala’s cover, he systematically destroyed his opponent’s fight plan. Instead of giving a shining performance as in his last fights, Pala had to work for his win on points punch by punch (78:75, 78:74, 78:74).