By Alexey Sukachev and Grigory Stangrit (Allboxing.ru) / Photo: Victor Sokolov
A huge cruiserweight doubleheader has been finalized tonight in Moscow, Russia. On December 17, newly-crowned WBA 200lb champion Denis Lebedev, who acquired the "regular" belt after Panamanian veteran Guillermo Jones had been downgraded to the status of "WBA champion in recess" - faces undefeated but vastly unproven Colombian prospect Santander Silgado.
On the same night, comebacking cruiserweight perennial contender Grigory Drozd will test his skills against former European titleholder Jean-Marc Monrose of France.
The event will be held at Crocus City Hall in Myakinino, Moscow, Russia and will be promoted by Vladimir Hryunov.
Lebedev (24-1, 18 KOs) was once a promising young gun but retired from boxing in 2004 due to both personal reasons and management disorder. He came back in 2008 and hasn't looked back since. In 2009 and 2010, Lebedev, 33, made a very strong run by beating former champion Enzo Maccarinelli and highly-ranked contenders Eliseo Castillo, Ali Ismailov and Alexander Alekseev - all inside the distance. He was granted a shot at the WBO belt in December 2010, but lost it to Marco Huck in Germany on a controversial split nod. Since then Lebedev has seemingly made a trip back in time by fighting (and effectively defeating) over-the-hill legends Roy Jones Jr. (42 at the time) and James Toney (43 on the date of the fight). He has also crushed obscure Barbadian Shawn Cox, 37, in his latest fight in April 2012 to get an interim WBA strap.
WBA #8 Silgado (23-0, 18 KOs), 27, has also missed almost three years of his very prime, experiencing a lengthy lay-off from January 2009 to December 2011. And it wasn't his only career break. The Colombian fighter had previously been out of the ring for another two and a half years between 2004 and 2007. Santander has never fought an opponent of note, his biggest test (which he has barely passed with a six-round split decision) being super middleweight Lawrence Chapman (19-4-2).
WBC #6, WBA #9 and IBF #14 Drozd (35-1, 25 KOs), 33, had fought just once between July 2009 and February 2012. He is 2-0, 2 KOs, this year, including a stoppage win over former champion Richard Hall. Drozd's only loss occured more than six years ago, when he was stopped by still-rocking veteran Firat Arslan in the WBA elminiator. Ending a parade of fighters with a considerable career hiatus is Frenchman Jean-Marc Monrose (25-5, 15 KOs), who takes on Drozd over the ten rounds.
Monrose, 31, looked like a bonecrushing bullet early on in his career, his rise culminating in a devastating first-round knockout win over Johnny Jensen in May 2008, which brought him the EBU title. He lost it in a subsequent fight to Marko Huck and has never been the same since, losing three more times in a row, including back-to-back defeats from the hands of future WBA beltholder Steve Herelius. Monrose was out of the ring for two years and came back just five months ago.