Sebastian Sylvester defended his IBF middleweight title on Saturday night in Neubrandenburg when he and mandatory challenger Roman Karmazin settled for a draw in front of a wild crowd of 4,500 fans. After 12 close rounds, the scores were 118-111, 111-117 and 114-114. “I am pleased to have defended my title,” Sylvester said. “It was a close, tough fight. Although Karmazin was more active, I landed the clearer shots. I think I was up a few rounds.”
Sylvester, whose strong defense absorbed most of Karmazin’s punches, turned it on in the later rounds when he punished his opponent with one-two combinations. “Sebastian really connected well later on and the fight was close to being stopped in the 11th,” coach Karsten Rower said. “If Sebastian had landed one or two more punches then, he could have stopped him. Karmazin was a tough opponent with a higher work-rate, but Sebastian landed the better shots and also worked well to the body.”
The 37-year-old Russian, whose left eye was badly swollen, felt he had won the fight. “It was a close encounter,” he said. “I had problems to find my rhythm in the first round because I got a thumb into my eye early. In round six I had problems with my liver so I really had to hang in there between rounds six and ten not to lose my focus. I felt I threw more punches and should have won the fight.” Promoter Kalle Sauerland disagreed, “If you look into the two fighter’s faces, you know who won – Sebastian is almost unmarked, while Karmazin’s face is swollen. It was an exciting fight on a very high level. Congratulations to both men.”
In the co-featured main event, Steve Cunningham made a winning debut for Team Sauerland as he clinched the vacant IBF Cruiserweight Title thanks to a fifth-round TKO victory over Troy Ross. Ross was the aggressor while Cunningham tried to keep his opponent at bay with his left jab. He landed a big left in the first round and not soon after Ross’ face was swollen. The pattern remained the same with Ross scored a knockdown with a big left in the fourth. However, Cunningham responded with a punch that badly cut Ross below his left eye (likely with the thumb).
The ring doctor advised the referee to stop the fight after one second of the fifth round because of a vertically cut eyelid. Since the injury was caused by a punch, as the referee ruled, Cunningham won by TKO. After the fight, the supervisor confirmed the referee’s decision. Ross will undergo surgery today before flying home. “We wish him all the best and a speedy recovery,” Team Sauerland General Manager Chris Meyer said. “It was a high-class fight and we are thrilled to have added another champion to our line-up. Steve Cunningham is a great fighter with a great team.”
Cunningham thanked his entire team for their great support. “It is great to be a champion again,” he said. “We have worked so hard and I want to thank my whole team and of course Team Sauerland who made this possible. I knew Ross would cut easily and that he could not beat me. The plan was to keep touching him and hit him hard later on. I am very happy. My goal is to become the best cruiserweight in the history of boxing.”
Promoter Kalle Sauerland congratulated him on a strong performance. “That was USS Cunningham at his very best,” he said. “He has a great team behind him. He has now defeated all three reigning cruiserweight champions. After the tremendous success of the Super Six tournament, we will be trying to put together something similar in this exciting division. We got WBO Champion Marco Huck under contract so we have a lot of options. I can promise fight fans all over the world that the best will be fighting the best at cruiserweight, too. We will try to sort out the details in the next couple of weeks.”
On the undercard, Yoan Pablo Hernandez cruised to an uncontested points victory over Zack Page.