By Alexey Sukachev
Former world champion DeMarcus "Chop-Chop" Corley (37-19-1, 22 KOs) was once again victimized and for the second time in Russia he was held to a rather disputed unanimous decision loss to junior welterweight contender Ruslan Provodnikov (20-1, 13 KOs). It wasn't the outcome of this close fight but the final tallies of the local judges, which confirmed the home-cooked decision of an entertaining twelve-rounder.
Scores were: 117-111 (by Roman Petrov and Floris Rakhmatullin) and astonishing 119-109 (by Semen Stakheev) for the WBO #13 ranked Russian crowd-pleaser. While the first two scores were too wide, one can at least argue the fight had been won by Provodnikov (which to this reporter wasn't certain). BoxingScene had it 114-115 - for the travelling journeyman Corley, who earns his money the only way he can - taking all the challengers in their backyards. The scores can vary from 115-113 to 113-115 for either man (and maybe even 116-113 - for Provodnikov) but hardly any wider.
Corley started the fight in his familiar manner, working at his usual distance trying to outbox Provodnikov. Provodnikov, on the other hand, looked different (and, unfortunately, not a good sense of this word) to usual self. He wasn't as aggressive as he usual is and he lacked the much needed body punches to break the 37-year old's corpus, which has been tested and failed in a recent fight against Lucas Matthysse.
Instead Provodnikov tried to box Corley's ears off, which was a very bad choice as Ruslan still hasn't developed enough fundamental skills to box against a seasoned boxer. Corley wasn't very active as well but his punches were more evident, his precision was superior to the Russian fighter. He also took Provodnikov's punches quite well aside for a few moments in the middleof the fight.
The rounds were very much alike, and almost all of them were rather close but Corley looked to have the edge in more of the rounds. The only round, which had a clean winner, was the seventh, when Provodnikov did what he should have done, pressuring Corley along the ring, landing punches and hurting his foe but that was just for a moment.
Corley looked very effective in the eighth, and he also opened some nasty cuts below and above Provodnikov's left eye. Ruslan enjoyed a good round nine but rounds ten and eleven were once again in Corley's favor who sometimes had Provodnikov in the corner and on the ropes but lacked the required power to hurt the Russian. In round twelve Provodnikov started well but was cut over his right eye and lost the end of the decisive stanza in a very close fight.
With this victory Ruslan acquired the vacant WBC Asian Boxing Council 140lb title. However, he is probably scratched from his scheduled date on ESPN against another former champion Julio Diaz, set for January 27, due to the nasty nature of his cuts. He also should be thankful to Corley for this valuable lesson and much needed experience. The American suffered his sixth loss in a row (his second streak of six losses during his career) but showed once again that he has both heart and (still) ability to compete with the young guns.
WBO #2 Alisher "Ali" Rakhimov (23-0, 12 KOs) has soundly proven that his 34 years of "youth" mean far less than the age of 28 for previously undefeated Thai slugger Saddam Kietyongyuth (23-1, 18 KOs). Rakhimov, a virtuoso of boxing finesse and a master of delicate feints and clever punching, took the powerful Thai to school before finishing him off with a devastating kayo in the seventh round.
WBC #13 lightweight (but actually a light welterweight as he came in the ring barely tipping the scales at 140 pounds yesterday, more than 5 lbs heavier than his opponent) Kietyougyuth, very much alike his countryman Poonsawat Kratingdaenggym, who competes a couple of weight classes lighter, is built like a human tank. He tried to impose his will on Rakhimov in the first round, which was fairly even. It became obvious in the second stanza, that former Uzbek Olympian had just taken three minutes to evaluate his rival. As soon as evaluation has been successfully accomplished, Rakhimov kicked off a fascinating boxing session for his fans. Without taking any significant punishment in return, the Uzbek danced around his opponent sticking his jab into Kietyoungyuth's face one, two, tree more times and adding stinging left hooks on his way out. The Thai tried to pressure straight-up Rakhimov but there were no room for the Asian fighter, not for Rakhimov, who easily avoided being hit with his elusiveness.
As the rounds went by, Rakhimov's advantage was increasing with each second. In the sixth, Rakhimov started to deliver more power punches than jabs and Kietyongyuth soon felt the difference on his own skin. Finally, with thirty seconds remaining, Rakhimov landed a powerful right swing in an exchange and soon put the Thai down on a barrage of punches. The Thai got up and barely survived till the bell. Immediately after the break, Rakhimov landed several hard combinations and finally landed a powerful left hook to the liver, which had Kietyongyuth down for a full count of ten. A major victory for Rakhimov; his next bout being a fight on ESPN Friday Night Fights against former world title challenger Ji Hoon Kim. Interestingly, well-known boxing expert and journalist Scott Mallon worked the Thai's corner in this fight.
In a battle of two Russian light heavyweights, who were seen by many to be equally even in their abilities before the fight, 28-year old former amateur star (and 2008 Russial national champion) Sergey Kovalev (17-0-1, 15 KOs) delivered a frightful beating to WBC #9-ranked Roman Simakov (19-2-1, 9 KOs) before stopping him in the seventh to acquire his opponent's WBC Asian Boxing Council title.
Kovalev debuted in the paid ranks in 2009 and quickly established himself as a force to be reckoned with on American soil, where he got all but one of his victories. Sergey has already fought in Russia and got a spirited win over tough Karen Avetisyan. Simakov, 27, was presumed to be as tough as Avetisyan but that wasn't the case. Nevertheless, Kovalev's advantage in the starting round was minimal.
It was the second stanza when the native of Chelyabinsk finally started to deliver punishment to the Kemerovo native. Simakov was seemingly not in the same league with his firing opponent. Kovalev changed angles, combined punches and didn't forget about body punching and landing stiff jabs right into the face of Simakov. Roman tried the only tactics he could inducing pressure on Kovalev but that didn't help him much as the elder Russian kept blocking Simakov's punches. Rounds two-to-four were all in Kovalev's favour.
Simakov did better in the fifth, which was an even round as he found some uppercuts to trouble Sergey on the inside. For Roman that was the very essence of his activity; for Kovalev - just a pause in his activities. In round six, Kovalev started to punish Simakov at will, and Roman was soon forced to take a knee. He was able to survive until the bell, however. The end came soon thereafter. In the seventh, Kovalev landed a couple of punches with a special accent on his left hook. Simakov took another knee and was counted out at 0:58. He later collapsed and was taken out of the ring on a stretcher. A nice win for Kovalev and some concerns about the health of his opponent.
Rising welterweight Dmitry "Southern" Mikhailenko (13-0, 5 KOs), the 2011 Kostya Tszyu Cup (Supercup) winner probably got the most notable win of his career so far by beating Russia-based Tajik slugger Sherali "The Lion" Mamadaliev (14-2, 8 KOs) over eight.
Mamadaliev, 30, did well in the first couple of rounds when he had enough power to trade with the younger, bigger Mikhailenko on roughly even terms. However, with each fought round Mikhailenko's advantage in technique and stamina became more and more evident. Rounds three and four were slightly in his favor, with both fighters delivering some thrilling moments for local fans. In round five, it became obvious that Mamadaliev was rather fatigued. At the end of the first minute of the sixth stanza, Mikhailenko, 25, repeatedly hurt the Tajik with body shots. Rounds seven and eight were fought in fan-friendly slugfest and Mamadaliev managed to end the bout on his feet.
All three judges gave the bout to Dmitry Mikhailenko but no scores were announced. BoxingScene had it 79-73 - for the "Southern". However, Mikhailenko is well advised to get more dynamite in his gloves in order to be a viable contender at the higher level.
Ring legend and IBHOF class of 2011 entrant Kostya Tszyu is in attendance for this show.