By Alexey Sukachev
Reigning undefeated IBO super bantamweight champion Alexander “Sasha” Bakhtin (31-0, 12 KOs) announced his retirement from boxing on Saturday, April 20, as a part of an extended TV interview with the Fight Club (“Boytsovskiy Klub”) crew. The permanent retirement is effective immediately, according to one of the most renowned (yet underachieving) Russian prizefighters.
“A decision is made for me to end my professional career”, said the 31-year old from Balashikha by way of Chita. “There are some serious health issues and I definitely won’t fight in future. Instead, I’ll pursue a career in politics. Also, I’m planning to stay active in boxing by teaching young fighters, guiding them to newer heights”, commented Bakhtin.
Bakhtin’s penultimate fight came in September 2012, when he outpointed Roli Gasca of Philippines in a very rough and hard-fought collision for a vacant IBO 122lb crown. It was a grueling battle of attrition, one which came all wrong for the “Knight” (another Bakhtin’s moniker) despite the one-sided nature of scores on paper (119-110, 118-110, and 118-111).
“It was a total nightmare for me from round four. I couldn’t even remember anything, and I fought purely on instincts. I still wonder how in the world I was able to last till the final bell and even win the bout. I spent a night after the fight in emergency ambulance. I’m happy with the fact I’ve regained my health after that”. Alexander’s last fight was conducted on March 31, when he stopped Colombian Yogli Herrera (22-16, 15 KOs) in four rounds.
For years before that Bakhtin was a notable player in bantamweight and later in the super bantamweight division. Having been taught the fistic art by the legendary Russian coach Alexander Zimin (who once guided Yuri Arbachakov and Orzubek Nazarov to the first major belts for ex-Soviet fighters, then trained numerous boxers including Nikolay Valuev and Denis Shafikov), Bakhtin spent the bigger part of his career in Japan. He still holds the Japanese record for the most defenses of the national bantamweight title (nine). He also held OPBF bantamweight and WBA international super bantamweight belts. However, he never fought for a major belt, despite being ranked in top-ten by various sanctioning bodies perennially over the last eight years.
“Yeah, I feel a bit sad about the fact”, said Bakhtin. “I was ready – up to the recent moment – to challenge any beltholder in any neighboring weight class. I’m sad I never got the chance. But future is now for me. It’s time to move on”.
Despite never getting a chance to test his skills at the ultimate level, Bakhtin compiled quite a resume as a prizefighter to add to his perfect amateur mark (124-4). The Russian stylist defeated former WBA champion Nehomar Cermeno, as well as former world title challengers Hidenobu Honda, Gerson Guerrero, Masaki Kawabata and Luis Melendez – all of them in one-sided fashion. He has every right to be proud of his career even though he has never reached for the ultimate glory.