By Alexey Sukachev & Per Ake Persson
MORE LIVE RESULTS TO COME...................
Max Schmeling Halle, Prenzlauer Berg, Berlin, Germany - Former champion Juergan Braehmer (39-2, 30KOs) is back in the mix after winning a twelve round unanimous decision over Eduard Gutknecht (24-1, 9KOs) to capture the EBU crown. The scores were 114-113, 116-111 and 117-111. The fight was also a final WBO light heavyweight eliminator to get a crack at Nathan Cleverly, who has a scheduled defense of his title on March 16th against Robin Krasniqi.
Braehmer won a crowd-pleasing brawl with Gutknecht, which should have gone the other way, according to a number of experts both ringside and outside the ring. Watching the fight on the screen of my laptop, I had it 117-111 - for Gutknecht. The referee was Terry O'Connor from the United Kingdom. Supervisor duties were served by Russian Igor Mazurov.
Gutknecht, who was rated #2 by the WBC, #4 by the WBA and IBF, and #5 by the WBO, was making the fourth defense of the title, he had won in May 2011 against Danny McIntosh. Braehmer, who had missed almost two years for various health, legal and managerial issues between 2010 and 2012 and lost his WBO championshi down the road, was rated #2 by the WBO, #11 by the IBF and #13 by the WBA. The contest was an inner-stable collision, as both men had previously competed under the aegis of Universum Box-Promotion and now are fighting for Sauerland Event.
Gutknecht, 30, a native of Zhetysu, Kazakhstan, started very fast and remained very focused for the first three rounds. He was sharper than Braehmer, four years his senior, despite being out of action for almost a year. Guknecht marched forward, sticked his jab into Braehmer's face and connected with right hands. The former champion retaliated in style but he wasn't very consistent with his punches and looked sluggish at moments, failing to find his composure and looked bad. He did better in the fourth, when his power began to show up.
Both fighters fought on roughly even terms for the next several rounds. Braehmer used his left hook to the body to prevent Guknecht from using his continuous pressure. On the other hand, Eduard was in a head-hunting mode, trying to beat his older foe to the punch. His lack of power was critical, and because of that Braehmer's chin sustained a good share of stinging left and right hands but proved his chin's worth (which he first confirmed during the memorable onslaught of Dmitry Sukhotskiy in their 2009 collision, when the Russian heavy hitter landed no less than thirty punches in a row on Braemer's chin but still failed to put him down).
The ninth round could have very well been the breaking point of the fight. Braehmer often ducked very low and used his head to create dangerous situations for the opposing fighter. Sensing that no one is helping him, Gutknecht pushed Braehmer down all the way, and in the ninth he had finally been deducted a point by the referee. Braehmer tried to fight on even terms with the fading foe in the tenth and in the eleventh stanzas, but ate way too many punches in comparison tio his opponent, being on the brink of a knockdown several time during this period. Both fighters ended the bout in brawl, with neither boxer prevailing but Gutknecht appeared to be the winner of of the match. He didn't look like a world-beater but he had seemingly done enough to get a positive mark, which wasn't the case, according to judges.
In possibly the best European fight so far in 2013, hard-hitting German light heavyweight Robert Woge (11-0, 10 KOs) dug very deep to overcome an extra determined French challenger Hakim Zoulikha (18-4, 9 KOs) to score a major stoppage at 2:25 of the eleventh round and captured the vacant IBF I/C title in process.
Zoulikha, 26, has already taken part in a thrilling fight, being stopped by WBO mandatory challenger Robin Krasniqi in the twelfth round of their January 2012 fisticuffs. Zoulikha came back to score two wins in December 2012 in order to get a ticket to Max Schmelling Halle in Berlin, Germany. Meanwhile, Woge, 28, had a nice year, getting four stoppages down the road. He defeinitely aimed for another one in the first round, immediately starting to pressurize defensive-minded Zoulikha. However, it took a couple of hard shots to turn the Frenchman into a wounded beast. From round two both combatants engaged into a frenetic brawl, giving all they had to stop their respective foes. Woge was the aggressor in the first three or four rounds, but Zoulikha used his flexible upper body to avoid being hit despite being within the Woge's fire range. The Frenchman looked superior in heated exchanges in rounds two and three, while Woge mounted a slight comeback to take the next couple of stanzas.
The midst of the fight was even, as both brawlers fought in close quarters. Zoulikha ate less punches and landed more clean shots, but the German's power was superior to that of Zoulikha. Nevertheless, despite being repeatedly rocked both fighters refused to take any steps back. BoxingScene's scorecard was even: 95-95 at the end of the tenth. However, late into the eleventh stanza Woge connected with a very hard left hook to drop Zoulikha down very hard. Zoulikha got up but was groggy. Referee Randy Neumann asked him if he was ready, and he said he was but that was an illusion. Woge immediately went berserk and forced Zoulikha to take a knee. Neumann halted the action immediately after that to the mild displeasure of Team Zoulikha. The real winners of the fight were local fans, who witnessed the best clash of the night so far.
Rising 20-year old super middleweight Tyron Zeuge, one of the brightest pro debutants of 2012, made a very short work of previously unstoppable Serbian Srdjan Mihajlovic (6-5, 5 KOs), 36, knocking him out at 2:36 of the very first round. The fight was cautious but then suddenly the Serbian fighter went in with a huge punch of his own and right into Zeuge's heavy right counter. He was down immediately, dangerously twisting his ankle, but got up on shaky legs only to be waved off by the referee. Zeuge is now 6-0, 5 KOs, and looks quite promising.
Fighting on his 34th birthday, American journeyman Christian Cruz (12-14-1, 10 KOs) had no options to lose and... no chance to win whatsoever. His opponent, a 23-year old undefeated light heavyweight Dustin Dirks (27-0, 20 KOs), gave no favours to Cruz and beat him thoroughly in three one-sided rounds to continue his promising run at 175lbs.
Cruz tried to engage with hard-hitting WBO #4 and WBA #8 Dirks but that was a huge mistake. He soon found himself in the corner, trying to find safety under fire of the German. Midst into the first he was already bleeding from what was originally an accidental headbutt but later was further worsened by the German's punches. Dirks continued a one-sided assault in the second round, and in the third began to land on Cruz at will. The American offered very little in return, and his punches were ineffective. Soon thereafter Dirks tagged Cruz with several hard shots, wobbling him and sending him to the ropes. At this point, 1:17 of the third round, the American's cornerman stepped in to wave a towel and to signalize a quick surrender. Cruz lost his 10th straight and is winless in seven years.
IBF #12 Dominik Britsch (27-1-1, 9 KOs) continued his Spanish journey with a hard-fought victory over lanky southpaw Luis Crespo (8-4-1, 4 KOs). Judges scored the fight: 78-73, 78-72 and 79-72 - all for the German middleweight. The win helped Britsch to soften hard memories of 2012, when he was first held to a draw and then stopped in nine by another Spaniard Roberto Santos.
This time Britsch didn't look much better than in his losing effort the last time out but his opponent was worse than Santos (which came as surprise as Crespo decisioned Santos in 2011). Britsch was moving around, working behind the jab and trying to sneak in with combinations before getting out of the harm's way. He was able to do so because Crespo, slow on his feet, was unable to counter the German on his way in, though a majority of Britsch's punches landed either on shoulders, gloves or arms of Crespo. Crespo looked evenly matched for Britsch in the first half of the bout but as the time passed by, the Spanish fighter started to fade. Britsch had him in trouble in the seventh round and closed the bout fairly well. Both boxers fought dirty, landing a number of punches t south of the border. Crespo was especially determined to punch below the beltline, which forced referee Ingo Barrabas to take a point a way from him in the fifth round.
Former London Olympian Enrico Koelling (4-0) didn't impress anybody once again, despite getting a well-deserved albeit workmanlike win over Lithuanian opponent Egidijus Kakstys (3-12-2, 1 KO). Koelling was the aggressor, fought better than Kakstys and landed a significant amount of his punches. However, an obvious lack of power resulted in a prolonged beating of an overmatched opponent rather than an easy knockout win. All three judges scored it unanimously for Koelling over six.
23-year old British cruiserweight Deion Jumah (1-0, 1 KO) made a devastating professional debut, knocking out Lithuanian Ruslan Bitarov (now 2-6-1, 2 KOs) with a single left hook to the liver with seconds remaining in the first round. Jumah (22-1, 13 KOs as an amateur), an alumnus of the famous Dale Youth Amateur Boxing Club and a two-time ABAE champion, will be back in a week against Ukrainian trialhorse Igor Pylipenko (3-12-2) in Denmark.