By Alexey Sukachev
Roy Jones Jr. (58-8, 41 KOs) may not even be the shadow of the fighter he was ten years ago but what is left of him is still enough for the mortals. The lesson was taught against by the Master at the Kipsala Exhibition Centre in Riga, Latvia, where the American icon scored his first knockout in five years (since the win over Jeff lacy) - this time over British veteran Courtney Fry (18-6, 6 KOs), even though that was a technical knockout.
Jones, already 45, had gone as far as to show some glimpses of his former self against Fry who was content just being within the same ring with the legend. Roy easily took all of the rounds, using remnants of his speed and his technique to overpower and outbox a very ordinary opponent. Jones Jr. also sent Fry to the ground with a powerful left hook at the end of the fifth. Fry has seen enough and personally greeted Jones after the end of the round, officially ending this fight as a TKO 5, which was more like combat sparring than an actual "title fight".
Ridiculously, however, it was a title fight and World Boxing Union (or the German version as listed by Boxrec) was at stake in this fight, the belt being retained by Jones for the first time. His journey goes on, and who know for how long...
World rated super middleweight Maxim Vlasov (30-1, 15 KOs) officially kicked off his light heavyweight campaign knocking out former world title challenger Ruben Eduardo Acosta at 1:43 of the seventh round.
Lanky boxer-puncher Vlasov was too of a fighter for the 36-year old Argentinean, who saw his better days long ago. The 27-year old Russian is trained by Victor Petrochenko, the same coach who refined the talent of ex-WBO middleweight champion Dmitry Pirog and adjusted him to a unique, mostly American style of boxing. Same with Vlasov who cleverly mixed his jab with fine upper body movement and multi-punch combinations. Vlasov was landing at will against his durable foe, taking little in return. Acosta was bravely fighting through but his momentum waned with each minute.
Vlasov's domination became intolerable for Acosta in the midst of the contest. The Argentinean had his best moment - a flashy right to the temple of Vlasov... to no effect - shortly before that. After that it was all Vlasov, who began to add damaging body shots to finally stop Acosta in his tracks. The end came midst into the seventh, when Vlasov landed a murderous right uppercut after several preceding body bombs.
Yuri Koptsev has seen enough and stopped it at 1:43 of the round. Vlasov was rated #4 by the WBC, #6 by the IBF, #12 by the WBA and #14 by the WBO - all in super middleweight division - coming into that fight. He has won his eleventh straight since his lone loss - a controversial decision to Isaac Chilemba in February 2011. Vlasov is also a newly crowned WBC Baltic champion. Acosta is best known for being knocked out by then-WBO super middleweight champion Robert Stieglitz in 2010. His down to 28-10-5, with 10 KOs.
Humanoid walks down the Earth! WBO #9 Aik "Humanoid" Shakhnazaryan (13-0, 5 KOs) continued his rapid professional education with a dominant fifth-round stoppage of tough but limited Argentinean Ramon de la Cruz Sena (18-12-2, 11 KOs). Shakhnazaryan, 21, retained his WBC Baltic light welterweight title for the first time.
Aik has been methodically breaking down his opponent form the very first round. Shakhnazaryan moved behind a stiff left jab, looking to land his powerful right hand. The Argentinean did his best to match his opponent's power but was overmatched in this department despite a demising record and knockout ratio. Shakhnazaryan punches got more and more dangerous with each round but Cruz Sena retained his composure. What he couldn't endure was a brutal left hook / right uppercut combo midst into the fifth, which brought him down for the count. Referee Victor Panin reached the count of ten at 1:29 of the fifth. Shakhnazaryan is a fighter to look at in the nearest future.
Latvian cruiserweight hope Mairis Briedis (12-0, 10 KOs), the best presently competing fighter of his country, scored a bit disappointing ninth-round TKO over usually durable UK-based Ugandan Joey Vegas (16-9-1, 8 KOs), who quit due to a knee injury rather than a knockout or prolonged punishment.
Briseids, 29 and reportedly 12-1 as the Bigger's Better competitor, started the fight slowly. Vegas, 32, ducked low, raised his left shoulder up and used Philly defense to prevent Briedis from dealing any significant damage. The Latvian boxer pressurized his smaller opponent (Vegas is originally a light heavyweight) and was more aggressive but his punches lacked finesse and often missed by just a couple of millimeters. Briedis made certain adjustments in the midst of the bout and started to connect with more precision. Vegas was dropped with a left hook in the sixth. It seemed more of a push than a real knockdown but referee Victor Panin has ruled it a knockdown. Briedis domination was more and more evident with each fought minute. Also, Vegas began to experience problems with this right leg in the eighth, and finally signalized he was unable to compete any longer in the ninth round.
Official time of stoppage was 1:09 of the ninth round. Briedis has reportedly captured a vacant WBC Baltic cruiserweight title. Vegas has lost his third in a row and also his third in 2014.
In an eight-round heavyweight opener, grizzled Russian veteran Denis Bakhtov (38-9, 25 KOs) continued his resurrection from the latest setback (TKO 5 loss to Manuel Charr in October 2013) with a convincing unanimous decision over experienced German Konstantin Airich (21-9-2, 17 KOs).
Both natives of Kazakhstan (Bakhtov is originally from Karaganda, while Airich hails from the Astana, formerly Tselinograd or Akmola) did what they could in the ring but their best days are clearly in the past, and it has been shown clearly in their encounter. Airich and Bakhtov repeatedly changed their roles, firstly working as the lead boxers and showing aggression, then going back and boxing on the defensive. Bakhtov, 34, was a little bit sharper, and his punches seemed to produce more effect than those of Airich, 35. Bakhtov landed several well-placed body shots to rock the German in the sixth and dominated the end of the fight to get a deserved win. Final scores were: 80-74, 79-73 and 77-76 - for the Russian. BoxingScene had it 78-74 - also for Bakhtov.