By Alexey Sukachev
Varshavka Sky, Moscow, Russia - Twelve years after the start of his pro career, 31-year old perennial international contender Alexander Bakhtin has finally achieved his goal of becoming a world champion. Standing in his way was dangerous upset artist Roli Gasca (19-3, 5 KOs), a former PABA and OPBF trinketholder with victories in Japan and Thailand.
The fight was unspectacular, filled in with fouls, clinches and tackles. WBC #3 and WBA/IBF #6 ranked super bantamweight contender Bakhtin used his busy jab to control Gasca in the starting rounds. Inside the distance he also clinched a lot, not allowing the Pinoy to inflict any damage.
From round five on - the Asian fighter turned loose and extra aggressive, using wild swings to tag the Russian. Ultimately, he failed and took a lot of punishment in return, although Bakhtin was rocked in the sixth and in the twelfth.
It wasn't enough. Judges Vladimir Nazarov (118-111), Philippe Verbecke (119-110) and Pawel Kardynyi (118-110) - unanimously awarded the bout to Alexander Bakhtin (30-0, 11 KOs), a new IBO super bantamweight champion of the world.
In a stay-busy fight, reighning undefeated European light welterweight champion Denis "Ghengis Khan" Shafikov (30-0-1, 17 KOs) scored a workmanlike decision over durable Kenyan James Onyango (9-5-1, 9 KOs) over eight rounds.
Southpaw Shafikov, ranked #8 by the WBC and #13 by the IBF, used numerous left hooks to the liver and overhand right hand bombs to trouble the African import once and again. Rock-solid Onyango, although being dominated over, never stopped trying and forced Shafikov to work hard for the win. Scores were 80-72 and 80-73 (twice) - for the Russian.
Brazilian heavy hitter Claudinei Lacierda (14-6, 10 KOs) came in with his guns blazing and went down to the floor in the same manner . He was being brutally knocked out in two by Russian lightweight Roman Andreev (13-0, 10 KOs). Andreev knocked him down once with a hard right hand before the stoppage was announced at 2:32 of the round.
Lightweight Eduard Troyanovskiy (12-0, 9 KOs) acquired the vacant PABA 135lb title after his Filipino opponent Joseph Von Minoza (14-4, 6 KOs) failed to come off his stool after the seventh.
Troyanovskiy, much taller than his opponent, took his time to adjust to the Pinoy's awkward style. Von Minoza, a featherweight at best, ducked down each time the Russian jabbed and used a dagger-like counter to bother Troyanovskiy. The Russian was slowly increasing his pressure until the Pinoy fighter started to wobble visibly. There were no knockdowns.
In a rugged four-rounder, Vladimir Goncharov (1-0) made a successful pro debut, overcoming 33-year old American Excell Holmes (2-1-1, 1 KO) with a unanimous decision.
Igor Mikhalkin (13-1, 8 KOs) engaged into a fan-friendly shootout with Ugandan import Hamza Wandera before stopping him at the end of the sixth.
The southpaw Russian light heavyweight, mostly known for his fights in Germany, started fast and dropped his opponent with a hard left in the first. Wandera (14-5-2, 12 KOs) showed guts and offered resistance to Mikhalkin. He had his chances in heated exchanges, especially in the midst of the bout, but nevertheless was stopped on his feet after several hard shots by the Russian.
In the opener, rising bantamweight kayo artist Nikolay Potapov, fighting at the featherweight limit, impressively stopped Brazilian journeyman Roberto Santos de Jesus (14-7, 10 KOs) in less than five minutes. Potapov, who improved his record to 8-0, 6 KOs, dropped him with a head shot in the first round and decked him twice more with liver blows in the second. Time of stoppage was 1:58 of the stanza.