By Alexey Sukachev, photos by Union Boxing Promotions
Union Boxing Promotions, a steadily rising and developing Ukrainian boxing company, has made a habit of producing and loading up huge, rich cards at their local base in Donetsk, Eastern Ukraine, which usually feature a majority of their best shining gems in one event and a number of minor title fights. There was a lengthy pause though after their last major promotion in August 2010, which contributed – in a certain way – to a big show at the very beginning of 2011.
As was the case on Aug. 30, 2010, there was a plenty of undercard fights plus five regional belts at stake in a webcasted part of the event. A major difference, however, was that this time UBP leaned towards the World Boxing Association by acquiring three European (EBA) and two Intercontinental belts of one of the oldest sanctioning bodies around the world for their Jan. 14 promotion. Luckily for Yuri Ruban, Dmitry Yeliseev and their partners, not one of their protégés let them down. It was a clean sweep by UBP boxers, which was witnessed by a sellout crowd at “Cosmos” Circus in the centre of the city; the usual venue “Druzhba” being closed for maintenance.
In a main and the most important fight of the night, local featherweight Oleg Yefimovich (19-2, 11 KOs) added another international belt to his expanding bank of the titles with a hard-fought but well-earned unanimous decision over Frenchman Philippe Frenois (13-3-1) in a bid for a vacant WBA I/C 126lb regalia.
Yefimovich dominated the first half of this tactical and technical affair but the light-hitting French fighter, nicknamed “The Teacher”, got stronger down the stretch and took the local crowd-pleaser into deep waters, also almost shutting down his left eye at the beginning of the eleventh. Yefimovich dug deep, resurged and came back with vengeance getting the better of Frenois in the last round. Nobody was either knocked down or even stunned in this fight despite the fact that the guest fighter landed cleaner blows (without any pop in them at all) and Yefimovich was more active and aggressive with his punches (which weren’t strong enough to get the rid of Frenois).
Scores were 117-111 (twice – Jose Ignacio Martinez and Pawel Kardyni) and 119-109 (Torben Seemann Hansen) - all in favour of Oleg Yefimovich, who came back nicely after a sudden loss in his last fight in August when he lost his EBU belt via a much controversial decision against another Frenchman Sofiane Takoucht. He will be granted a spot in the WBA featherweight ranks soon. Referee in the ring was Mickey Vann.
Young Georgian cruiserweight Yago Kiladze (16-0, 11 KOs) made a short work of hugely overmatched Hungarian Zoltan Czekus (14-5-1, 7 KOs) to acquire a vacant WBA I/C belt in a terrific style.
WBA #15 Kiladze hurt Czekus with his first body punch of the fight and dropped him thrice with same blows en route to the first-round KO at 2:45. Czekus proved to be no match for rising UBP prospect and was demolished by Kiladze as brutal as by former world champion Enzo Maccarinelli.
One of the most brutal knockouts of the night (even though there were only a few of them) was scored in an only non-vacant title fight of the show, when WBA #12 and EBA super middleweight champion Server Yemurlayev (19-0, 7 KOs) ended his fight with too-brave-for-his-own-good Estonian Anton Sjomkin (10-3, 9 KOs) with a scary left-right double at 2:57 of the eighth, which had Sjomkin down and immediately out.
Yemurlayev dominated the fight before scoring crisp combinations at will against the former BBU international titleholder. Sjomkin, on the other hand, was passive and didn’t get loose with his trademark right hand enough to land something big on onrushing Donetsk-based Uzbek fighter. Yemurlayev, UBP’s second best super middleweight after Stas Kashtanov, once again showed his talent and obvious potential. His record looks odd in terms of knockout ratio but the Uzbek native can punch much harder than at the first glance.
In a brutal beatdown, WBA #5 junior welterweight Wladimir Kravets (24-0, 15 KOs) acquired a vacant EBA 140lb title with a dominant ten-round stoppage of French light-hitter Bastien Laforge (12-2-1, 1 KO).
Laforge was down in the first and was almost stopped in the second after a major right hand by Kravets. Game Laforge managed to survive this stanza and even delivered a stern test to the Ukrainian, who was fighting dangerous with his head and was deducted a point in round seven. In the tenth, Kravets increased his pressure and finally got the stoppage of badly bloodied Laforge at 0:48 of the tenth after a major left hand.
In the first title match of the night, lanky veteran power puncher Stanislav Merdov (32-7, 24 KOs) engaged into a street brawl with Georgian Nikoloz Berkatsashvili (17-7, 7 KOs) and took him out in two bloody give-and-take rounds of two-way action.
Merdov was hurt repeatedly at the beginning of the second after the tedious first, turned the tide with his body punches and scored three consecutive liver knockdowns to tag an automatic stoppage by referee Mickey Vann. Time was 2:56.
Local light middleweight Artiom Karpets (12-0, 5 KOs) did what he should scoring a dominant decision over tough-as-nails countryman Nikolay Korenev (2-6). Scores were almost identical: 80-72, 80-72 and 80-73 - for still undefeated Kravets.
Artiom Redko (18-2-1, 9 KOs) looked less than spectacular in scoring a hard-fought eight-round unanimous decision over quality journeyman Ivan Maslov (6-7-1). Scores were a bit wide: 80-72, 79-73 and 80-73 - for the Ukrainian. BoxingScene saw it 78-75 - also for Artiom Redko. Maslov is best known for lasting a full road against hard-hitting punchers Erislandy Lara and Hugo Kasperski.
In a tactical affair between two durable veterans, local boxer and former EBU title challenger Andriy Kudriavtsev (35-8, 15 KOs), 34, got back into the winning column following his spirited but losing effort in John Murray fight last autumn with a unanimous decision over 43-year old defensive specialist Rakhim Mingaleev (27-65-2, 8 KOs). Scores were: 60-54 (twice) and 60-55. Mingaleev showed once again that he has much left in tank even despite his advanced age.
Scorching middleweight gun Ruslan Shcheliov moved up to 5-0, with 5 KOs, after the first-round annihilation of fading Estonian professional spoiler-clown Leontiy Votontsuk (19-48-1, 6 KOs). Vorontsuk was down firstly on a hard left hand to the jaw and then twice on liver punches for the fight to be stopped at 2:29 of the first.
Russian bantamweight trialhorse Ravil Mukhamadiarov (7-37, 6 KOs) got his 38th loss in a lopsided style dropping a unanimous decision to rising super bantamweight prospect Alexander Yegorov (5-0, 3 KOs): 54-60 (twice) and 53-60.
Flyweight Alexander Grischuk (4-0, 1 KO) earned a clear-cut yet not scintillating unanimous decision over Estonian journeyman Sergey Tassimov (9-35-2): 60-52 and 60-54 (twice). There were no knockdowns.
In a starting contest of the night, Armenian Gevorg Avetisyan (1-0) got a split call over fellow debutant Wladimir Kulsha (0-1) with scores: 40-37 (x2) and 36-40. Boxingscene saw this fight as a draw: 38-38.
Several well-known local personalities sat ringside for this show, including super middleweight contender Stas Kashtanov and reigning WBA champion Vyacheslav Senchenko.