By Alexey Sukachev
Sport and Congress Center, Schwerin, Germany - Defeating his own ghosts and erasing some horrible memories, Hungarian WBA "regular" super middleweight champion Karoly Balzsay (25-2, 18 KOs) made himself forget his crushing defeat to Robert Stieglitz in 2009, when he lost his WBO title in the eleventh round, and dealt another former champion Dmitry Sartison (28-2, 17 KOs) his second twelfth-round knockout loss. The end came with just 35 seconds remaining in the fight when referee Mikael Hook (Sweden) deemed WBA #2 Sartison unable to continue despite still being on his feet.
The contest was a see-saw affair from the start. The battle was set in the center of the ring, with both fighters trading punches in a rugged, monotonuous way. Balzsay's blows seemed to be a little bit heavier, and he was more stylistically and technically proven than his slow opponent. Both fighters had their shares of success in the opening rounds but as the fight progressed, it became obvious, that the Hungarian had more gas left in tank.
Sartison was especially vulnerable while covering behind a tight guard and slowly turning around his central axis - while leaving his body and both sides of his head near the ears completely open. Balzsay was also open for counters, and some hard blows did get in when Sartison threw them. Still it wasn't enough to prevent the Hungarian southpaw from dealing more and more punishment. Sartison was very slow and also rocky to a degree in the tenth and in the eleventh stanzas. During the twelfth, Balzsay landed a vicious uppercut which had Sartison down. The Germany-based Kazakhstani stood up but was being chased across the ring, eating one punch after another until Mkael Hook waved the fight off to a mild protest from the challenger.
Thus Karoly Balzsay has virtually unified the WBA regular title, which became vacant due to Sartison's long period of inactivity in 2011. Balzsay himself captured the belt via a questionable split decision over Stas Kashtanov in August 2011. The WBA's "super champion" (and the only one who truly counts) is Andre Ward.
Former light heavyweight world champion Juergen Braehmer (38-2, 30 KOs) continued his way back to the top of the ranks after almost two years off the ring with a solid win over durable Namibian Vikapita Meroro (21-4, 9 KOs) in a ten-round non-title affair.
Braehmer, who is now ranked #8 by the WBO after being stripped off the title about a year ago after back-to-back failures to defend his title, was better than Meroro in every single department. He was pressing the action all fight long, landed more telling blows and mostly avoided being cracked in return. WBO #14 light heavyweight Meroro was pretty capable, but fighting out of Africa for the second time in his career (and five years since his last European voyage) he was too cautious and seemingly wasn't good enough. Southpaw Braehmer floored him with a straight left at the beginning of the third and almost finished the African in the last round. Scores were 97-92 and 98-91 (twice) for the German. BoxingScene had it 100-88, scoring the last round 10-8 - for Braehmer.
WBC #7 ranked cruiserweight Rakhim Chakhkiev (13-0, 10 KOs) spent less than two minutes in the ring, and it was enough to completely destroy comebacking American Jaidon Condrington (20-3, 16 KOs) with wicked body shots. The American, who is best known for a frightening kayo loss to Allan Green in 2005 and a brutal war with Sakio Bika in Contender III Finale two years later, was no match for the 2008 Beijing heavyweight gold medalist and was decked twice before refusing to go on. Chakhkiev, who is also ranked #12 by the WBO, retained his WBC Baltic cruiserweight title.
Former WBA heavyweight champion Ruslan Chagaev (29-2-1, 18 KOs), now ranked #8 by the World Boxing Association, tuned up for future achievements (if any) with the third-round kayo of American journeyman Billy Zumbrun (25-13-1, 15 KOs). The Uzbek fighter was very much out of shape, weighing around 240 pounds, but it didn't matter because Zumbrun was in entirely different league. The end came at approximately a minute after the start of the third stanza, after a crushing left uppercut by Chagaev, which had the American seating on his pants in the corner and listening to a full count with his nose bleeding.
Former featherweight queen Ina Menzer improved her record to 29-1, with 10 KOs, after she delivered a quality pounding to journey-woman Doris Koehler (8-11-1, 3 KOs) over eight rounds. Both girls fought to the end, and there were no knockdowns, but Menzer was simply better in each department and rightfully got a points decision.
And revenge was sweet. Former cruiserweight king and unsuccessful heavyweight world title challenger Juan Carlos Gomez (50-3, 38 KOs) avenged his 2011 loss to fellow cruiserweight-turned-heavyweight Darnell Wilson (24-15-3, 20 KOs) in fairly controversial fashion. However, the official verdict was TKO 4 - for the Cuban, which means he was able to add a bit of longevity to his fading image of a world-class fighter.
Gomez looked to be in shape - but his boxing proved he wasn't the same Gomez that he was even three or four years ago. Wilson, who lost eight of his last nine, was a bit dangerous - as always - with his hard, swinging blows. One of them had the Cuban down briefly in the third but it wasn't clear whether or not it was ruled as a knockdown. Otherwise, Gomez was slightly better with more jabs and smart movement. The fight met an unexpected end at 2:12 of the fourth round, after Wilson was badly cut over his right eye in what seemed to be an accidental headbutt. However, referee Guiseppe Quartarone signal that Wilson's cut was made by the punch, which gave Gomez the TKO win.
After years in obscurity, former world-ranked Croatian contender Ante Bilic (27-2, 13 KOs), still relatively young at 28, came back big and took Rafael Bejaran's WBO European middleweight title with a classy win over twelve rounds.
WBO #7 Bejaran (now 14-2, 6 KOs), a locally based Dominican, was making the second defense of his title and didn't look particularly good. Bejaran was too strained and at the same time too cocky against a very capable fighter in Bilic. The Croatian took his time to adjust to the opponent and then suddenly started to counter him with fast right hands on his way in. Bilic's jab was also very effective. Bejaran tried to use body punches in the midst of the fight to a mixed reaction of Bilic, but his stints of activity were very rare and also inconsistent.
At the end, all three judges awarded the decision to Ante Bilic: 118-109, 117-110 and 116-111. The Croatian is expected to re-appear in world ranks after this win.
In a classifed textbook stinker, WBO #11 and WBC #15 featherweight Marcel Meyerdirks (22-0, 5 KOs) continued his reign of slumber with a hard-fought but uniquely dull twelve-round decision over barely capable Argentinean opponent Santiago Allione (19-8-1, 7 KOs).
The fight was very unwatchable. Meyerdirks, who seems to be not powerful enough to even crack eggs for breakfast, used his usual stick-and-step tactics and hardly threw anything except jabs for ten rounds out of twelve. Allione was presumably more active but his lack of technique helped the German to avoid any danger. Otherwise the fight was even but thankfully didn't turn into a clinchfest. Meyerdirks did have some splashes in round seven and also ended the fight in aggressive mode. Thus he captures a vacant WBO I/C 126lb title. BoxingScene had it 117-113 - for the German.