By Dmitry Mikhalchuk (ringside) and Alexey Sukachev / Photo: BoxNews.com.ua
Kiev-based Georgian Avtandil Khurtsidze was unable to end the year with the same steam that he demonstrating in the past, but he kept his fans in upright position for twelve brutal and entertaining rounds against Ghanaian hard-nosed veteran Ossie Duran. At the end, Khurtsidze earned a majority decision over the African fighter and added the vacant WBC Silver middleweight strap to his expanding assortment of various titles.
Unlike some other fighters, 34-year old rugged Duran arrive to Zaporizhye, Ukraine, for a paycheck but for a battle and a chance to win something big in the twilight of his career. He started at a measured pace, giving Khurtsidze a chance to install himself as a leading competitor, but also fought back with zeal whenever he got hit with Avtandil’s two-fisted attack. In the third, Duran landed a short right hand to the shoulder of the local hero, and Khrutsidze went down. It was more of a flash knockdown than any actual danger for Khurtsidze. On the other hand, it did reflect on the judges' scorecards, as the Ghanaian was ahead on all the cards after four rounds of action: 38-37 (twice) and 39-36.
Sensing the fight is very far from being a done deal, IBF #7 and WBO #12 Khurtsidze summoned all his will and overpowered Duran with his unrelenting activity and desire as well as with a better punch output. Duran had his share of success with stinging right hands and good jabs. However, Khurtsidze turned back the tide despite all these efforts of the Ghanaian, taking the lead 76-75 (x3) after the eighth.
The rest of the fight was fought on even terms, and both fighters gave their all but in the very end of this memorable slugfest the Georgian found something in him to get the edge in the twelfth and final round.
Final scores were: 114-113, 115-113 – for Khurtsidze, and 114-114 – a draw. Duran lost his tenth career fight but nobody has ever stopped him, not even frightening puncher James Kirkland. He is 26-10-2, with 10 KOs, while Khurtsidze improves his record to 27-2-2, 16 KOs. Elite Boxing Promotions staged this event.