By Alexey Sukachev
Rakhim Chakhkiev (15-0, 12 KOs) proved two things in Hamburg, Germany. First, he has a nice left hand - as he delivered a thunderous punch and to put his foe down even at the end of the fight. And, second, he still has very much to learn about boxing before going up for the bigger names in the cruiserweight division.
Chakhkiev, 2008 Beijing Olympics heavyweight gold medalist for Russia, started promptly by going straight to his Colombian opponent Epifanio Mendoza (34-15-1, 30 KOs) with visibly bad intentions. Mendoza, 36, who has gradually transformed from a light middleweight kayo artist to a cruiserweight journeyman over the years, stayed calm under fire but moved only backwards. Southpaw Chakhkiev's left hand was a big factor in the first. And it was proven in the second, however, when Rakhim, 29, landed a picture-perfect left hook to send Mendoza down. The Colombian got up and continued to be dominated.
Rounds went by, and it became clear that the Russian, who has been recently ranked as high as #10 by The Ring, didn't have something "extra" in his otherwise fascinating assets. At least, this night. Chakkiev was pressing Mendoza and stalking him all over the ring. The left hand landed several time, and it looked like the Colombian would go down but he didn't. In the mid rounds, Chakhkiev looked a bit fatigued, his acitivity decreased, and the Latino fighter even landed some punches of his own. It seemed Rakhim just couldn't tag his opponent to the very point of his head to get the job done despite a visible power of his punches.
He has finally got his moment in the ninth. First, he put Mendoza down along the ropes with yet another wide left hook. And soon thereafter Mendoza went down again. Referee Daniel Van de Viele stopped his count at "seven" and rightfully waved the fight off. Chakhkiev retained his WBC Baltic cruiserweight title, which somehow was at stake, despite Rakhim being from the Ingush Republic of Russia and Mendoza being a Latino fighter. Chakhkiev is ranked #5 by the WBC and inside top-15 by the WBA/IBF/WBO.
In a strange fight, Germany-based Turk Ismael Oezen (6-0, 6 KOs) continued his run with a four-round stoppage of Czech import Michal Bilak (19-22, 10 KOs), who lost his sixteenth bout in a row. Oezen failed to impress in the first three rounds, as the bout was almost even. Midst into the fourth, Oezen cornered Bilak but went down on a right counter. He got up and continued to press the Czech fighter. Late in the stanza, Bilak tried to tag Oezen with a wicked left hook but missed badly and injured his left arm in the process. He took a knee and was counted out at 2:59 of the fourth. Oezen is now the German International light heavyweight champion.
Former world champion Vitaliy Tajbert (23-2, 6 KOs), an ethnic German from Kazakhstan, overcame early ring rust to outpoint previously undefeated Belarus-based Czech Michal Dufek (9-1-1, 6 KOs) in a competitive fight. Tajbert was fighting for the first time in nine months. He was outboxed in the first but gradually worked his way back to the fight and hurt Dufek with body punches in rounds four and five. Dufek attempted a late rally but it was indeed "late" rally. No scores were announced but BoxingScene had it 59-56 - for Tajbert, who is ranked #5 by the WBC and #12 by the WBO at super featherweight.
Turkish cruiserweight Yavuz Keles (8-6-1, 5 KOs) couldn't have it any easier than that. He threw barely a dozen punches, when his opponent Artiom Gromov (record unknown) of Belarus went down after a right hand. He got up and went down again, seconds later, with a weak punch to his liver. The stoppage came at 2:03 of the first round of what cannot be named anything but a shameful mismatch.
In a battle of two ex-Soviets, Uzbek super featherweight Samariddin "The Pitbull" Holboev (11-2, 3 KOs) scored a unanimous decision over towering Belarussian spoiler Andrey Gromyko (9-2-3, 9 KOs) after four rounds of action. Of two combatants, only Holboev looked like and fought as a prizefighter. As for Gromyko, he has proven a sadly low level of Belarussian club-level boxing, behaving like a mixture of a rookie and a street bully. Gromyko ran around the ring, turned his back on the opponent and was extremely wide with his shots, but the shorter Uzbek just didn't have enough power to drop him down.
Super middleweight Samir Said (2-1, 2 KOs) got a very easy win, stopping Czech Milan Ruso at 2:50 of the first stanza. Ruso was down after a left hook to the... shoulder. He got up and even landed a right hand of his own but was soon trapped in the corner and dismissed on a series of hard shots. The stoppage certainly came as now surprise. It was Ruso's sixteenth loss in the same number of fights; all of them being inside the scheduled distance.
In a six-round female collision in a light middleweight division, Sweden blonde Maria Lindberg (8-1-2, 2 KOs) outpointed southpaw Romanian veteran Floarea Lihet (10-11-4, 3 KOs) unanimously over six.
--------------------Tags: Rakhim Chakhkiev