By Alexey Sukachev at ringside
World-class professional boxing made it’s highly anticipated comeback to the Russian capital on Saturday, Feb. 6, during a huge show, which was promoted by Yuri Fedorov Sports Lab at Aquarium Hotel sports arena on the second floor of the giant Crocus Expo exhibition center on the outskirts of Moscow. Kirill Pchelnikov (Pushka Promotions) and German Titov (German Titov Promotions) aided in compiling the exact schedule of the tournament, which unfortunately was marred with several disappointing organizational blunders.
Photos: Evgueny Solodov
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In what certainly was the most important fight of the night, middleweight prospect Dmitry Pirog (15-0, 12 KOs) became the first one to stop tough but aging (40 years old) American competitor Eric “Machine Gun” Mitchell (22-7-1, 11 KOs) inside the scheduled distance. Mitchell gave WBO #2, WBC #4, IBF #10 and WBA #14 Pirog fits in the first two rounds but then gradually succumbed to the combinational power and versatility of the Russian contender. Pirog took his time to adjust to slick and inconvenient Mitchell and started to tag him with crisp right hands and more often with left leaping hooks over the block and right to the whiskers. Mitchell rolled with almost every Pirog’s punch, which was thrown with bad intentions, yet he was taking a considerable amount of punishment and his nose stated bleeding in the third round of the bout. With each fought stint Mitchell offered less and less resistance and delivered smaller amounts of punches while fighting in full survival mode. The contest was stopped at 1:07 of the fifth round, when Mitchell signalized he had had enough of this. After the bout Mitchell was quoted citing injury as the reason for his surrender, while Eric’s corner-men named “fatigue” as the main reason for this disappointing stoppage. Pirog reportedly became the WBO mandatory challenger after this victory. He can meet EBU titlist Matthew Macklin in his next outing, though nothing is set yet. Pirog also retained his WBO Asia Pacific middleweight title.
In what was ridiculously advertised as the main event of the evening, Uzbek stylist Timur Ibragimov (27-2-1, 15 KOs) acquired a vacant IBA intercontinental heavyweight title with the third-round stoppage of Tanzanian Awadh Tamim (11-2, 6 KOs). The African fighter connected with some looping right hands which got Ibragimov’s attention in the first two rounds. Timur looked pretty rusty, used some dirty tactics and was unable to let his hands ago. The situation had changed considerably in the third, when the Uzbek had finally found a room for his punches and started delivering bombs to Tamim. The Tanzanian was down three times during the third stanza before referee Jon Schorle stepped in to wave the bout off at 2:15 with Tamim struggling to get up after another mixture of punches and wrestling from Ibragimov. No WBA or IBF International heavyweight belts were at stake.
In a walkout clash, which should have been set at least as the co-main event of the evening, two unbeaten bantamweights engaged into a horrific two-way brawl, which have stunned the remaining public and brought to the birth the first obvious candidate for fight of the year in Russia. WBO #10 bantamweight Sahib Usarov (14-0, 6 KOs), 26, originally from Tajikistan and now fighting of Vladikavkaz, Russia, was much more experienced than 23-year old unranked Uzbek super bantamweight Ilhom Rahimov (6-1, 4 KOs) but the latter forced Usarov to fight at the edge of his limits and to dig very deep to win this fight. Both fighters delivered a non-stop action with numerous lightning-fast exchanges, combinational punching and technically sound defense but Usarov’s experience was a decisive factor, which allowed him to get over former two-time junior world amateur champion. At the end of the eight-rounder, which was fought at the featherweight limit, two judges saw it for Usarov – 79-75 and 80-73, while the third one scored the bout a draw 77-77. Fightnews saw it 77-75 – for Sahib Usarov, who was involved in the toughest collision of his career so far. Rahimov was down twice over the course of the fight but no knockdowns were scored as both times the Uzbek fighter slipped rather than went down from the punch.
Welterweight prospect Vitaly Demyanenko (18-0, 11 KOs) kept his unbeaten record intact and retained WBO Asia Pacific and PABA belts with a masterful display of skill against Argentinean tough guy Jorge Daniel Miranda (34-8, 13 KOs). All three judges scored it lopsidedly (120-108, 120-108 and 120-109) for the WBO #9, WBA #10 and WBC #12 Kazakh converted southpaw counter-puncher, who kept his foe at bay with single left hands and overhand right hooks as well as with his wise movement across the ring. Fightnews saw it 119-109 – for Demyanenko, who is the son of former Soviet Olympian and amateur star Victor Demyanenko. Vitaly’s father was also at ringside shouting tips to his offspring.
It took heavyweight banger Magomed Abdusalamov (7-0, 7 KOs) just 84 seconds to completely demolish hugely over-matched Kenyan Raymond Ochieng (20-10-3, 17 KOs) in what turned to be a horrible mismatch. Ochieng was floored three times after looping right hands and showed no will and no ability to resist Abdusalamov’s powerful onslaught. The Dagestani is yet to see the second round.
Roman Simakov (10-1-1, 6 KOs) got the better of over-matched Ukrainian Vasyl Kondor (18-9-1, 8 KOs) in one-sided fashion. There were no knockdowns but the fight was stopped at 0:22 of the fifth round after another brutal assault by Simakov.
Also, heavyweight Alexey Soloviev (17-0, 11 KOs) scored a unanimous decision in a six-round stinker versus Azerbaijani no-hoper Emin Gyulmamedov (0-2).
Unfortunately, the evening was considerably spoilt by several blunders. Firstly, the beginning of the show, which was set at 7 PM LT, was delayed for an hour due to the absence of emergency ambulance. Secondly, Ibragimov – Tamim fight was incorrectly advertised as being for either WBA or IBF International belts and it was erroneously announced as the clash for a vacant IBA title. Both Raymond Ochieng and Awadh Tamim proved to be no matches for both Abdusalamov and Ibragimov, while Eric Mitchell surprisingly surrendered during the pretty competitive cross-roader. Finally, Usarov – Rahimov fight, which clearly has stolen the show, wasn’t broadcasted either by TV or through the webcast. There’s a hope, however, that these disappointing errors will be taken into account in the future.