By Alexey Sukachev
After a tedious November with the only notable show at the end of the month in Samara, Russian boxing will forge into the lead and close this year big with a variety of interesting competitions in December. Four relatively sound cards and two local events will be promoted in four cities, including three nights of boxing in Moscow; several well-known ex-Soviet fighters will take their parts part there, making it one of the most active stints on the Russian pugilistic scene in 2009.
The month got off to a very inspiring start on Dec. 4, when former amateur and kickboxing standout and World Cup trophy owner Roman Romanchuk (cruiserweight) was released in courtroom after spending more than a year in colony for killing Vladivostok native Oleg Meshkov in August 2008, during his stay at the training camp of Russian Olympic boxing team. In a still controversial trial, Romacnhuk was pleaded guilty for breaking the limits of justifiable self-defense after being seriously wounded from Meshkov’s pistol and the following scuffle. A number of notable members of Russian boxing community spoke and wrote in support of Romanchuk, but he has been released just yet. Romanchuk, known for his toughness, frightening punching power and underrated technique was once thought to be a future professional star. He is 30 right now.
This month’s beatings will start this Thursday in Chelyabinsk under Ural Boxing Promotions. Five matches are scheduled with the most well-known names being Doniyor Rakhmatullaev (10-3-1, 4 KOs) and tough nut Artem Vychkin (8-23, 2 KOs).
On Saturday night, Dec. 12, starting promoter Roman Kim with assistance of well-known Russian boxing personality Alexander Kolesnikov will stage a nice-packed local event at the legendary “Krilya Sovetov” arena in Moscow.
The main bout of the evening will see a rematch of the national championship in super middleweight division between the reigning titlist Konstantin Piternov (7-0, 1 KO) and Barnaul native of Armenian origin Rudolf Asaturyan (8-3, 4 KOs), who held the Russian belt at 168lb just before Piternov. Asaturyan is 0-3 in his last bouts but still poses considerable danger with his take-no-prisoners style of boxing.
The soundest name in the card will be the recent two-time world title challenger Yuri Barashian of Ukraine, also of Armenian origin. Barashian (25-5, 17 KOs), who has never lost a single fight inside the distance, was beaten by Hugo Garay in 2008 for the WBA light heavyweight title and by Zsolt Erdei in January 2009 for the WBO regalia in the same weight class. He will make an eight-round tune-up against professional loser Ruslan Semenov (2-18-1, 2 KOs).
Also, young welterweight Aslanbek Kozaev (8-0, 3 KOs) will take on Estonian clowning loser Leontiy Vorontchuk (19-43-1, 6 KOs) over six rounds of action. Vorontchuk has lost 23 consecutive fights in five years. Former lightweight amateur standout Igor Ivanov (2-0) will go eight against Uzbek banger Sherzod Nazarov (11-3, 10 KOs). Starting the card will be foxy welterweight boxer Svetlana Kulakova (4-0, 1 KO). Ticket orders are available by phone: +74955051923.
Maybe the biggest event of the whole December is set on Thursday night, Dec. 17, at Typhoon Club in Saint Petersburg, Russia. Rapidly rising promotional group led by Vitaly Supichenko and Alexander Yagupov and named Jab Promotions will end 2009 in shockwave mode, first staging a major card in their primary location and then pitting their top light heavyweight Dmitry Sukhotskiy (14-0, 9 KOs) against WBO light heavyweight champion Juergen Braehmer (34-2, 28 KOs) just two days after. Sukhotskiy will be the second world title challenger, promoted by Jab group, who is to get his world title chance following a close loss of Ali Ismailov (16-2-1, 12 KOs) to Victor Emilio Ramirez for WBO cruiserweight belt in May.
Ismailov, 35, will see maybe the toughest challenge of his whole pro career (with Ramirez included) in comebacking southpaw banger Denis Lebedev, who is ranked #3 by the WBO, #8 by the IBF, #15 by both WBA and WBC. The fight is scheduled for twelve rounds and Lebedev’s WBO I/C title will be at stake in this contest. Denis (18-0, 13 KOs), 30, who is a fellow-townsman and a friend of legendary Fedor Yemelyanenko, is managed by Vladimir Hrunov and promoted by Frank Warren. Ismailov, the best Azerbaijani fighter nowadays, will become Lebedev’s sixth opponent after a lengthy hiatus, which ended in July 2008. Lebedev destroyed Enzo Maccarinelli and Eliseo Castillo in his last fights.
The main support bout of the night will be a twelve-round contest between Maxim Maslov (9-0-1, 7 KOs) and once-beaten Artur Marabyan (12-1, 4 KOs) for the vacant EBU-EE heavyweight belt. The most fiery battle of the card, however, could be an eight-rounder between cruiserweights Alexander Kotlobay (16-1-1, 10 KOs) and Valery Volozhenin (12-0-1, 6 KOs). Both contestants are known for their underrated power, however, lanky Volozhenin, 6’5”, hasn’t boxed for a year.
Shaping up the card are Ali Ganibaev (6-1, 4 KOs) and debutant Hurshid Abdullaev in separate bouts. Ticket orders are available by phone: +78126404340. Doors are opened at 7 PM LT.
On Dec. 19, inside the sports arena of luxury Aquarium hotel at Crocus-City megamall another huge boxing card will be loaded with various pugilistic fireworks included. The show will be promoted by Yuri Fedorov Sports Lab and bannered “RING STARS”. Ticket orders are available by phone: +74957817183 and can be purchased in every booking office and ticket agency in Moscow.
Headlining the event is Uzbek heavyweight Timur Ibragimov (26-2-1, 14 KOs), who is penciled to fight Tanzanian champion Awadh Tamim (11-1, 6 KOs) for the vacant WBA International belt. 250lb destroyer Magomed Abdusalamov (6-0, 6 KOs), who is yet to hear the bell ending the first round, takes on Kenyan Raymond Ochieng (19-9-2, 16 KOs).
However, the most intriguing part of the card will be the much anticipated Russian debut of maybe the best European bantamweight around “Knight” Alexander Bakhtin (23-0, 10 KOs). Bakhtin, 124-4 with 80 KOs as an amateur and rated WBC #3, WBA #4, IBF #6 and WBO #13, spent his whole pro career in Japan, breaking national record for the most consecutive title defenses. On Saturday night Bakhtin goes ten tuning rounds against Uzbek Nosirjon Rozimatov (6-3). Two more bouts are also scheduled.
On the same day, ex-Uralochka palace of sports in Ekaterinburg, Russia, will host a major boxing card with Russian most successful fighter to date as its headliner. German SES (Ulf Steinforth) will unite his efforts with German Titov to promote a major event in female boxing. Natascha Ragosina (21-0, 12 KOs), recognized as the best super middleweight in the world with a handful of titles to support this opinion, will move all way up to the north and collide with Grenadese Pamela London (6-3-1, 1 KO) for the vacant WIBF heavyweight title over ten two-minute rounds.
WBO #3, IBF #4 light middleweight Lukas Konecny (40-3, 20 KOs) will see action in the undercard. Local prospects Ilhom Rakhimov (5-0, 4 KOs), Fedor Papazov (2-0, 2 KOs) and Dmitry Mikhailenko (2-0) will shape up the card.
Finally, on Dec. 25 also at “Krilya Sovetov” Sergey Stepkin of Union Boxing Management will stage a tiny card, specifically designed for the showcase of some young talent. Stepping into the ring will be kayo artists Alexey Makhnenko (6-0, 5 KOs) and Roman Andreev (7-0, 6 KOs), lightweight Andrey Klimov (5-0, 1 KO) and heavyweight Vladimir Tereshkin (11-0-1, 6 KOs).