By Alexey Sukachev
Moscow, Russia - Showing some sneaky skills and elusiveness Samara-based Armenian Aik "Kadj" (ex-Humanoid) Shakhnazaryan improved his record to 20-2, 10 KOs, and added a vacant WBC International 140lb title with a close call over dangerously-punching Filipino Al "The Machine Gun" Rivera (17-3, 15 KOs), who holds the OPBF light welterweight title and ranked #12 by the IBF. Final scores were: Guido Cavalleri: 116-113, Daniel van de Viele: 115-113 and Esa Lehtosaari: 115-114 - all for the Armenian. BoxingScene had it 115-113 - also for Aik. Referee was Massimo Barrovecchio of Italy.
With four kayo wins since his back-to-back losses to Abner Lopez and Eduard Troyanovskiy in 2015, Shakhnzaryan was boxing well against his bigger but slower opponent in the opening rounds. Rivera, 23, tried to work Aik's body but his powerful, huge punches missed - and, mostly, wildly. On the other hand, Aik, of the same age, has never stopped moving and landing some big shots on his way in, although they weren't extra powerful. Rivera took them well, mostly on his block. The Filipino was able to connect with some serious leather in the third round. After four round scores were: 39-37, 39-37 - for Shakhnazaryan and 38-38.
The fifth turned into a virtual disaster for the Armenian, who was hit often on his way out and rocked several times while moving laterally. Rivera was also successful in the sixth but Shakhnazaryan utilized his superb foot speed to get out of danger. He also took the seventh and the eighth on his sheer boxing skills. All three judges had Shakhnazaryan slightly ahead after the eighth on the WBC open scoring.
Rivera tried his best to tag Shakhnazaryan in the closing rounds but it was Aik, who connected freely. River's punches dealt real damage to the Samara fighter but the latter was able to neglect its quantity with quality of his defense. In the twelfth and final round Aik was mostly running while Rivera, clearly annoyed, was unable to prevent him from running.
In a co-main event, two undefeated boxers collided for a vacant WBC International Silver light welterweight title, and someone's O has gotta go. One to go was the zero mark of Chelyabinsk native Evgueny Pavko, who has lost a close unanimous decision to Samara-based Armenian Manvel Sargsyan in a ten-rounder.
The fight was very aggressive in the opening rounds. Sargsyan was hurt and cut over his right eye in the first. Pavko went down to the canvas in the second, but it was not ruled a knockdown by referee Guido Cavalleri. Pavko, 24, dropped Sargsyan later in the round but it hasn't been a knockdown by the Italian referee. Sargsyan, 26, took the other two round to get a solid edge after four rounds: 39-36 x3.
Both fighter fought hard in the midst of the fight but Sargsyan's edge in finesse, and Pavko being so slow, prevented the scores from radical changes: 77-74, 78-73, and 78-73 - after eight rounds. Pavko engaged more in the ending rounds but Sargsyan retained his composure despite a point deducted by the referee in round ten. Final scores were: 95-93, 95-93 and 96-92 - all for Sargsyan, who is now 16-0, 9 KOs. Pavko gets down to 15-1-1, 10 KOs.
Upset-minded journeyman Alexey Evchenko, formerly EBU-EE, WBO European and PABA welterweight titlist, got his fifth consecutive win - the longest streak in his career - and another upset over previously undefeated prospect Islam Dumanov (6-1, 4 KOs) with a split nod over eight rounds.
Fighting in the name of his late father in the only non-Armenian notable fight, Evchenko, 33, was more aggressive and powerful than Dumanov, who was limited to be strictly defensive. Evhcenko was especially strong in the later rounds. He improves to 14-10-1, 6 KOs. Dcores were: 77-75 and 77-76 - for Evchenko, and 78-75 - for Dumanov. Evchenko came back to the ring in September 2015 after more than four years off the ring.
One of two Sarukhanyan brothers - a younger one named Vage - scored a workmanlike eight-round decision over Mexican import Giovanni "Impacto" Straffon over eight one-sided rounds. It was a non-title affair even though Sarukhanyan holds a minor version of the WBC lightweight title. It was a unanimous decision but no official scores were announced.
Despite being officially two inches lower than the Armenian, the Mexican southpaw was visibly taller as he stalked Sarukhanyan around the ring. The Armenian was mostly defensive bit it was an active defense, as he danced away from his foe, peppering him with his jabs and landing right crosses. After the half-point Sarukhanyan started to land more hard right crosses and he rocked Straffon several times, specifically in rounds seven and eight. Straffon is now 13-2-1, 8 KOs, while the Armenian moves up to 16-1-1, 3 KOs. Sarukhanyan holds a win over former WBC super featherweight champion Gamaliel Diaz among others.
Stocky Armenian light welterweight Vladimir Sarukhanyan of Gyumri, Armenia, by way of Sochi, Russia, used his power and overall finesse to outpoint much taller Uzbek Eldorbek Sayidov (1-2-1, 1 KO) over eight heated rounds. Sarukhanyan goes up to 5-0, 2 KOs.