By Alexey Sukachev
Ahmat Arena, Grozny, Russia - Five years since he lost his WBA heavyweight title, The "White Tyson" Ruslan Chagaev (33-2-1, 20 KOs) is once again a world champion (a regular one) under the very same version of the heavyweight championship. WBA #3 Chagaev, 35, scored a very-hard fought but not particularly spectacular majority decision over WBA #4 Puerto Rican Fres Oquendo (37-8, 24 KOs), six years his elder, with Evander Holyfield, Sultan Ibragimov, Marco Huck, David Haye and Kostya Tszyu (among others) looking on from their ringside positions at the Ahmat Arena in Grozny.
Oquendo, a late comer from the States as he had visa problems going in, wisely chose to preserve energy for the closing rounds while doing his best to match Chagaev's weight advantage (well over 20 pounds) with his reflexes and defensive ability. He had problems coping with Chagaev's left hand and his right jab, as the Uzbek champion fought out of the southpaw stance. Chagaev's jab and overall aggression were prime factors in the first three or four rounds. After that Oquendo started to work his way into the fight, but he was also hampered by massive body shots from Chagaev.
Round five was good for Chagaev as he kept pressurizing his opponent but Oquendo progressed in the sixth, landed some big shots and also induced a bad cut over the Uzbek's left eye following an accidental headbutt. Chagaev began to suffer from improper taping in the midst of the fight as well, being a reason for several disappointing breaks during the fight. Oquendo was better in the seventh, while Chagaev mounted a comeback in the eighth.
The Chechen president Ramzan Kadyrov was too nervous about the final outcome as he entered into Chagaev's corner several times during the breaks with his comments and tactical suggestions. The rest of the fight was mostly tactical, as was the beginning of the fight. Chagaev's left hand was the factor but the Boricua answered well in rounds nine, ten and eleven with his freaky left uppercut.
After twelve rounds of a steady fight, which was refereed well by Hall of Famer Stanley Christodoulou, judge Guillermo Perez Pineda had it 114-114, but he was overruled by Gustavo Jarquin and Alexis Marin, who both saw it 115-113 (as did the BoxingScene) for now a two-time heavyweight champion Ruslan Chagaev. Oquendo has lost his fifth close or questionable decision in the last eighteen fights since his kayo loss to John Ruiz ten years ago.
Back to his old kingdom with fresh ambitions, long-time WBC cruiserweight champion Juan Carlos Gomez celebrated his 55th victory (and the 40th coming by the way of kayo) against previously undefeated but vastly untested Bosnian Goran Delic to acquire a vacant WBA International cruiserweight title.
Gomez, 40, used his fine jab to keep the plodding Bosnian at bay. He threw it one-two-three more times to tag the very center of Delic's face - his nose. The WBC #6 Cuban relied fully on his front hand, not even trying to follow it with his power punches. He was also light on his feet, circling around inept Delic, also 40. Delic tried to land some power shots but missed all of them, having just mild success in an unfair jabbing contest. Gomez was better in every department and finally achieved what he wanted in the fifth round. He connected with a huge jab right to the nose of Delic, forcing him to retreat in pain. The ringside physician indicated the nose might be broken, and Delic decided to retire from the fight right after that.
Official time of stoppage was 1:32 of the round. Gomez is now 55-4, with 40 KOs. Delic suffers his first career los and drops down to 24-1, with 4 KOs.
German heavyweight Edmund Gerber (24-2, 15 KOs) made a successful comeback to the squared circle following his most recent one-sided loss to Dereck Chisora the last year, stopping unheralded Mexican veteran Vicente Sandez (13-4, 9 KOs) with a minute and eight seconds remaining in round two.
Gerber, who looked finished as a serious prospect against the flamboyant Brit, was in much better shape this time. He immediately started to stalk Sandez looking to land some power shots behind the jab. The Mexican was wobbling at the end of the first and continued to take punishment in the second round. The ending touch was a major right hand, which put Sandez down, prompting his handlers to throw in a towel immediately. Gerber is now the WBC International Silver heavyweight beltholder.
Local favorite Viskhan Murzabekov (9-0, 4 KOs) survived some rocky moments in the closing round of his ten-round fight versus hard-nosed Ukrainian Armenian Igor Faniyan (14-9-2, 7 KOs) and cruised to a relatively wide unanimous decision for a vacant WBC Youth Intercontinental welterweight title.
Shorter but stockier Murzabekov was more aggressive of the two and used his uppercuts well in early rounds to control the action. Faniyan was mostly lethargic and was rightfully behind on the judges' scorecards after four rounds: 40-36 (x2) and 39-37. The Armenian fighter woke up in the mid rounds and started to fight back to slowly fading local hero. Murzabekov marched forward and got rounds due to more effective punching and activity. However, Faniyan gave him fits and did his best to retaliate. In the last round he landed a major combination to rock Muzabekov badly. Viskhan was forced to hand on for the dear life and he did that, lasting till the final bell. Final scorecards were: 98-93 (Alexander Kalinkin), 99-91 (Irakly Malazonia) and 98-92 (Olena Pobyvailo). BoxingScene had it 97-93 - also for Muzabekov.
Chechen heavyweight Apti Davtaev is now 7-0, with 7 KOs. It took this powerful knockout artist from Kurchaloi just twelve seconds to get the rid of Ukrainian opponent Olexander Nesterenko (9-3, 4 KOs).
In a two-way rumble, powerful but not so agile and not of the greatest endurance local heavyweight Arbi Madaev (5-1, 2 KOs) scored a dubious stoppage of infamous Tanzanian import Chupaki Chipindi (13-7, 8 KOs) in round five. Chipindi was slightly better in the first two rounds, but Madaev mounted an impressive comeback in rounds three and four and also dropped Chipindi late in the latter stanza.
Undefeated light heavyweight Movsar Yusupov (7-0, 3 KOs) got the better of durable Belarussian Alexander Suschyts (16-3-1, 9 KOs), outpointing him unanimously over six rounds.
Light heavyweight Apti Ustarkhanov (6-1-2, 1 KO) outpointed Russia-based Armenian Gor Akopyan (0-5) over six one-sided rounds. Akopyan was a late sub for undefeated Ghanaian import Emmanuel Anim (7-0, 6 KOs). All scorecards were in favour of Ustarkhanov.