By Alexey Sukachev at ringside
Photos: Victor Sokolov
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Rising cruiserweight prospect Denis Lebedev (17-0, 12 KOs) made a sound statement on Saturday with an overwhelming fifth-round TKO over experienced Cuban Eliseo Castillo (20-3-1, 15 KOs). This fight was held at “Mashinostroitel” Palace of Culture in Balashikha, Moscow Region, in the wake of a huge amateur tournament in honor of PBFR president Victor Petrovich Ageev. Lebedev – Castillo collision was the only pro boxing contest of the event but was witnessed by a notable number of boxing celebrities, including former amateur stars Yuri Alexandrov and Rufat Riskiev and Russian heavyweight hope Alexander Povetkin.
Hard-hitting southpaw Lebedev started the fight cautiously, steadily measuring his foe and throwing occasional blows to find out weaknesses in Cuban’s defense. After an even first round 29-year old Russian increased tempo in round two pressuring Castillo across the ring and scoring several times with sharp combination both to the head and body. Lebedev dropped his opponent in round three with a blow, which was slightly below the belt, and the guest fighter was credited with a minute to recover. The low blow seemed to wake Castillo up as he started to find a spot for his left jab and counter right cross. In the fourth stanza, both fighters tried to be aggressive but Lebedev was by far stronger and more consistent of two, landing several well-laced left hooks to the liver and some fast combos too. He also rocked his foe with a right cross but failed to finish him before the bell. In round five, Lebedev started to land his punches at will. Castillo, 33, was down after a right-left combination and then again after a huge counter left while trying to rush into close distances. Sensing the victory is just moments away the Russian fighter punched his opponent to the corner and started a lengthy barrage of blows finally forcing referee Yevgeny Gorstkov to stop the contest.
“I’m satisfied with the outcome but there’s still much work to be done”, said Lebedev afterwards. “I was too inconsistent in terms of tempo and I need to eliminate these gaps between my offensive activities. Also, I want to thank everybody for their continuous support and praise my wonderful team”.
“I have been often asked a question, “Who is Mr. Lebedev?”. I hope you, friends, have seen it yourself tonight”, commented Lebedev’s manager Vladimir Hrunov. “I hope to get a world title shot for Denis in a year or so. We shall bring it to the Moscow Region, so that Russian fans will have a chance to see their future star live”. Lebedev, who is promoted by Frank Warren, will be back into the squared circle on April 19 in England. “Denis will be ranked by major sanctioning bodies after today’s solid performance. We shall try to find him a star opponent because he is way too strong for his usual victims. Fighters like Glen Johnson are welcome!”, boldly stated Hrunov.
“He was a better man tonight so I have no excuses”, revealed Eliseo Catillo after the fight. “I haven’t seen his punches coming and he hits really hard. Comparing him to Jonathon Banks I can ensure you he is a much better fighter and he is more versatile. I think he has a star potential in him. As for me, I’ll try to get back soon and to prove this loss was just a bad day for me”.