By Alexey Sukachev
There were signs and then there was statistics. For more than twenty years Russian prizefighting has never experienced the ultimate tragedy, which can be imagined by all involved into the sport. No fighters have ever died inside the squared circle. Up until now. There were injuries and bad injuries. In 2009, Uzbek bantamweight Nosirjon Rozimatov fell into a coma after a severe beating he received from world-ranked opponent Alexander Bakhtin. He had emergency trepanation and he was lucky enough to survive. Once (in 1994) an aging referee passed away right inside the ring due to natural causes. There were chilling knockouts and one-sided beatings but luckily no one has succumbed to the brutality of boxing.
That all changed today, when light heavyweight contender Roman Simakov passed away from the injuries sustained in his fight with fellow compatriot and contender Sergey Kovalev. Kovalev delivered a sound beating to Simakov over the first four rounds, then Roman evened a fight for a moment but the sheer power of the Ural banger took its painful toll, and Simakov was forced to go down in the sixth. He bravely stood up to continue fighting but was put down again with a combination of punches early into the seventh. He was unable to continue after that, even though he got up. Moreover, he soon lost consciousness and was taken out of the ring on a stretcher.
Simakov was rushed into resuscitation ambulance #24 in Ekaterinburg, where he had surgery. However, he has never regained his consciousness and succumbed to his mortal fate this night…
Roman Simakov was just 27 years of age. He started his professional career in 2008, got several wins before challenging Vasily Lepikhin for a vacant Baltic Boxing Union light heavyweight title. In a fierce and bloody battle, Roman delivered all he could but lost to taller and younger Lepikhin on split decision in an even fight. Unlike Lepikhin, who has been seen just once in the ring since, Simakov immediately bounced back with a streak of wins over various opponents. This March he shut out Kenyan Douglas Otieno to win his biggest prize – the vacant WBC Asian Boxing Council belt and received a #9 standing in the newest WBC rankings. His final record is 19 wins (9 by the way of knockout), 2 losses and 1 draw.
Though, there could have been a perception of a possible mismatch, the fight between Kovalev and Simakov was reasonable as both fighters had the same level of experience, and their records were comparable both in terms of numbers and in terms of opposition. Kovalev was the obvious favorite (and he indeed was) – thanks to his vast amateur background and immense punching power, but the fight was far from being a pre-defined encounter. The power and domination, showed by Kovalev, who looked much better than in his recent fights, turned out to be a shocking experience for Simakov, who has never adapted to the strength of his opponent’s punches.
Roman Simakov was a modest guy who always spoke and acted in and intelligent and soft manner. He will be sorely missed by entire Russian boxing community. BoxingScene sends its deepest condolences to the family and friends of the fallen warrior.