By Alexey Sukachev
In an upset, 33-year-old German veteran Konstantin Airich sensationally stopped fight favorite Ondrej Pala (30-3, 21 KOs) of the Czech Republic to add Pala's WBO European heavyweight title to his already owned IBF I/C belt. IBF #15 Airich was losing the fight but he found some inner resources not only to defeat the uncharacteristically slow Pala, but also to resurrect his stagnating career.
WBO #6 Czech, who hasn't lost for well over five years since his injury-insisted TKO loss to Denis Boytsov, was in firm control of the fight in the opening rounds. Pala was slow and mostly inactive but so was Airich, while Pala's punches were much sharper and landed flashier on the Kazakh expatriate's chin. Airich was taking the punch well but he was steadily given an unnecessary diet of leather, which didn't look good for him. However, he stayed solidly on his feet, and at the end of the third the Czech's bell was rung, when he was shaken by Airich's big right hand. The next couple of rounds were once again for Pala, 27, whose strong jab and big right hands were the difference.
It has all changed in the sixth, when Airich landed a huge combination in the center of the ring to wobble Pala badly. The Czech was on the verge of going down but wisely dropped his mouthpiece. Referee Yuri Koptsev did a terrible job of bringing the fighters together and gave the Czech every chance to survive, which he surely did.
Ondrej looked rather good in the seventh but Airich's confidence was still intact and he began beating Pala to the punch in the eighth. Round nine turned out to be a personal holocaust for the Czech. First, he was pinned to the ropes and ate a number of clean punches, which were enough to stop the contest. However, referee Koptsev gave Pala every chance to survive and took him back to his corner to insert his mouthpiece once again. The Czech was deducted a point, but it wasn't necessary. Airich immediately went in for the kill and punched an almost senseless Pala until Koptsev stepped in at 1:10 to stop the carnage.
A huge win for Konstantin Airich, who has slowly put his career back on track. Pala is young enough to come back as a serious European contender but he definitely needs to improve his defense. Airich also avenged his majority decision loss to Pala, which took place three years ago.
Middleweight prospect Alptug Oener (4-0, 1 KO) got a harder-than-expected decision over Latvian journeyman Ilja Slahota (3-3-1, 2 KOs). Oener started strong, and he also finished strong, but Slahota gave his southpaw opponent fits in the middle of the fight. BoxingScene had it 58-56 - for Oener. Official scores were announced in Turkish.
Rising Turkish heavyweight force Erkan Teper improved his record to 8-0, with 6 KOs, after his 37-year old opponent Ivica Perkovic (15-14, 11 KOs) refused to come out for the fifth round, claiming a left hand injury.
Teper, 29, was in full control of the fight from the opening round. Croatian Perkovic immediately went into survival mode and positioned himself in the corner to eat punches from Teper. He also showed a good chin and some physical cunning to tie the Turk up on the inside. Teper slipped several times in the corner but otherwise was pretty consistent with his pressure. Perkovic did little to nothing to help himself, however he never went down until the end of the fourth, when he signalized his refusal to fight on.
Turkish cruiserweight Varol Vekiloglu (19-3-1, 11 KOs) came back with a victory, as he secured a fourth-round knockout of barely capable German boxer Christian Schwaeblein (5-6, 3 KOs).
Heavily tattoed Schwaelblein pressed the action early on, while Vekiloglu, coming off the crushing first-round knockout loss to Konstantin Airich in his heavyweight debut, was moving across the ropes. The German landed nothing of note, and in the second round Vekiloglu started to work. He dropped his German opponent with a major right hand to the ribs. Schwalblein survived the stanza, but he was taking more punishment in the third. In the fourth round, the Turkish boxer landed a series of very hard left hooks to the liver. Schwaelblein cried in pain and soon went down after another series of body blows, where he was counted out at 1:46 of the fourth.