By Alexey Sukachev
WBA heavyweight champion Nikolay Valuev (50-1, 34 KOs) retained his title with an unspectacular majority decision over legendary ex-champion Evander Holyfield (42-10-2, 27 KOs). Scores were 114-114, 115-114, 116-112. Both fighters started the contest very cautiously, however “The Real Deal” was able to score twice with lefts in the opening round while dancing away from Valuev’s lazy jab. The pattern was repeated in following two rounds, when the champion seemed to be too slow and too reluctant to force the action, while the challenger was a bit more active having some mild success in close quarters. In round four, Valuev began to land a counter right hook and added an uppercut on occasion. He also became more consistent with his jabs, throwing them with increased accuracy. Round five was close but Holyfield was a bit more active and precise. Round six turned out to be a crucial point as the Russian, seemingly behind on the scorecards, finally set the correct path for his jab and right in return.
Valuev controlled the fading legend through the seventh and eighth rounds. The ninth round saw Holyfield caught off-balance by a wide left by Valuev. Sensing a victory flowing out of his hands, Holyfield increased both his movement and aggressiveness in round ten, landing some individual bombs and combos at close distance. The final round was the whole fight in miniature: Holyfield was dancing around Valuev eating lazy jabs and having some success on the inside. After the decision was rendered, Holyfield received applause from Swiss crowd, while Valuev was notably booed. All in all, not the best day for Valuev despite his milestone 50th pro victory, a bitter setback for the 46-year-old Holyfield.
Mads Larsen (51-2, 38 KOs) proved he is the second best Danish super middleweight (assuming that reigning WBA champion Mikkel Kessler is #1) with an impressive seventh-round TKO over former kickboxing star Roberto Cocco (9-3, 5 KOs) of Italy. Larsen set the picture from round one, peppering the tough guest with his sharp right jab. In the middle rounds, the Dane started to throw more southpaw hooks and crosses and Cocco’s face began to redden. In round six, Larsen increased the tempo of the fight. The end came at the second minute of the seventh round after a huge left by Larsen, which pinned the Italian to the ropes with no defense until the black towel of his corner came flying into the ring. Impressive win for WBA #6, WBC #13 and IBF #15 Mads Larsen.
German-based Italian Francesco Pianeta (18-0, 11 KOs) both saved his unbeaten record and defended the EBU-EE heavyweight title for the first time with a close unanimous decision over Frenchman Johann Duhaupas (17-1, 10 KOs). The bout was fought at a steady but average pace; both boxers threw and landed many single blows and combos, however, the action was pretty measured all the time. Pianeta was a bit harder and a bit tougher in each round. In the last stanza, Duhaupas went in for kill and had some success but it was too little, too late. The scoresheets read it as 117-111 (Garcia/Perez), 116-112 (Parris), 115-113 for southpaw Pianeta (Hook). Fightnews had it 116-112, the same as judge Dave Parris of Great Britain.
Hard-hitting Ukrainian heavyweight Oleg Platov (27-1, 22 KOs) came back after a year-long layoff with a convincing yet disappointing eight-round win over American journeyman Jason Gavern (15-5-3, 8 KOs). Gavern was lucky to survive until the final bell under heavy fire of Platov. Gavern’s tactics included sudden shouts, funny mimics and googles, wrestling and other showboating along with a world-class chin. An angered Platov was able to score a flash knockdown with a thuderous left hook in round six and Gavern used all assets of his skills to make it through the last round. Scores were 80-72 and 79-72 (twice) in favor of the Ukrainian banger.
40-year-old Eileen “The Hawaiian Mongoose” Olszevski (5-2-2) has barely retained her WIBA flyweight title with a controversial draw against German swarmer Nadia Raoui (9-0-1, 3 KOs). Raoui was by far more aggressive while Olszewski used her superior skills to score less frequently but more precisely, especially at the start. One judge scored it 96-95 for the American fighter, the other had it 98-92 for Raoui and the scorecards were balanced by 95-95 by the third judge at ringside. Fightnews had it 97-93 in favor of the challenger.
Russian cruiser Jimmy Kapanov (9-0, 5 KOs) scored a hard-fought victory over rugged veteran Paolo Ferrara (25-13-1, 7 KOs). All three judges had it in favor of technically sound Kapanov, who outboxed the aging Italian aggressor over eight heated rounds.
American heavyweight KO artist Bermane Stiverne (16-1, 16 KOs) destroyed Lyle McDowell (27-12-1, 18 KOs) in round one.