By Jake Donovan
All that Lukas Konency wanted for the past eight months was to step in the ring and fight.
Three opponents later, Salim Larbi ultimately drew the short straw and felt the full brunt of his opponent’s built-up frustration.
In front of a partisan crowd at Vodova Arena in Brno, Czech Republic, home grown Konency finally clawed his way to the title picture with a seventh round knockout of Larbi in their interim title bout Thursday evening.
Konency was in control for the duration of the evening, but Larbi proved that he didn’t come all the way from France just to collect a paycheck. The fringe contender - who accepted the fight on short notice – absorbed a major beating and even gave back some in return, but eventually succumbed to Konency’s aggression and power.
The early going suggested a mismatch that wouldn’t last more than a couple of rounds. Konency – who has seen two separate title opportunities fall through due to his opponents suffering injuries – fought like a man who was double-parked, taking the fight immediately to Larbi. The aggression played well with the crowd, but questions arose when the visiting fighter absorbed and kept coming.
Larbi did some of his best work in the third round, offering the suggestion of a tough night’s work ahead for Konency. The brief scare was just that – brief, as Konency soon took over the fight and never looked back.
The middle rounds saw Larbi in retreat mode in hopes of lasting some rounds and offsetting the aggressive attack employed by Karnency. The strategy allowed the fight to last longer than was believed to be the case early on, but time and luck eventually ran out on the fringe contender.
After enjoying a huge sixth round, Konency came out with knockout on his mind to begin the seventh. The Czech brawler made that happen, flooring Larbi with an overhand right. The count was administered, but in retrospect could have been waived off on the spot as Larbi showed no interest (or lacked the faculties) as remained on a knee for the full ten count to end the bout.
Konency picks up his 12th straight win as he improves to 48-3 (23KO). Larbi falls to 17-2-1 (4KO), losing for the first time since his third pro fight back in July ’09.
The last time Konency lost in the ring also served as his lone major title shot, falling short to then-unbeaten Sergiy Dzinziruk nearly four years ago. A rematch was scheduled for last September, only for Dzinziruk to suffer an injury as he was forced to pull out of the fight and vacate his alphabet belt.
The move advanced Zaurbek Baysangurov to champion status, with plans for a showdown with Konency to take place last month in Kiev, Ukraine. Once again, Konency was stood up at the altar, as Baysangurov pulled out of the fight in late February due to injury.
Great efforts were made to quickly come up with a contingency plan, which led to Larbi being brought in on about one month’s notice. Still, the series of events left Konency stuck on idle since his last fight in May ’11.
While there is always great debate about the excessive number of interim, super and regular titlists in every sanctioning body, the interim label fits here. Konency is now ensured his place in line for a rescheduled title shot against Baysangurov, or at the full version of the title itself should another schedule fight fall prey to the injury bug.
What remains unlikely is the Czech’s chances of avenging a four-year old loss to Dzinziruk, who is being groomed for an August showdown with Austin Trout on HBO.
Still, any unfinished business is better than being left with nothing at all.
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com. Follow Jake on Twitter:@JakeNDaBox or submit questions/comments to JakeNDaBox@gmail.com