By Alexey Sukachev
Vratsa, Bulgaria - It was a payback - definitely - but not as convincing as Sergey Rabchenko might have thought beforehand. The Belarussian bodypuncher, rated #1 by the WBC at the light middleweight limit, defended his WBC Silver and European titles with a unanimous decision over familiar foe - Bradley Pryce of Wales - but failed to stop him inside the distance, despite securing a standing eight count in his favor in the third. Final scores were: 120-107 (Fabian Guggenheim of Switzerland), 118-109 (Robert Verwijs of Netherlands) and 117-110 (Bela Florian of Hungary).
Pryce and Rabchenko fought zealously to a close (and, according to certain opinions, a controversial) unanimous decision for Rabchenko in May 2011. This time Pryce, 32, who was just 1-4 in his latest fights, kicked off just from where he had left two and a half years ago. He went straight to Rabchenko to have some success in round one with uppercuts and left hooks. Rabchenko, 27, also rated #4 by the IBF, #6 by the WBA, and #13 by the WBO, answered with his trademark body hooks to trouble the Welshman.
In round two, Rabchenko continued to deal damage, looking for a soft spot in Pryce's defense. He has found one - surely with the left hook to the liver - and used it continuously to put Pryce in trouble in the midst of the third. Pryce was pummelled from pillar to post, when referee Massimo Barrovecchio stopped the onslaught by using a standing eight.
Interestingly, after that Pryce started to fight back, though Rabchenko's lead was never in serious danger. With his right hand very low to protect the liver, Pryce was opened to hard left hooks to the chin - just what the Belarussian wanted. Rabchenko dominated the midst of the contest but then began to feel fatigue. It's where the Welsh veteran summoned what was left of his energy to wing with Rabchenko on even terms during the last third of the fight. Both combatants viciously exchanged punches at the end of round ten, and repeated this short thriller in the eleventh. The last round was the champion's, who continued to beat Pryce to the punch to punctuate his win.
All in all, it was a great performance on behalf of the Welshman, who took the fight on a short notice, after the original opponent (and yet another of Rabchenko's bitter foes) Cedric Vitu withdrew claiming an injury. Pryce is now 34-15, with 18 KOs. Sergey Rabchenko (25-0, 18 KOs) on the other hand maybe in need of a bit more seasoning before taking his world title shot - presumably against Canelo Alvarez. It wasn't a bad display of skills from him either. BoxingScene had it 117-110 - also for Rabchenko.
In a fight, that was barely a boxing match, more like a wrestling or a MMA contest, Stiliyan Kostov (10-3, 7 KOs) acquired a vacant Bulgarian middleweight title with a dirty DQ over Daniel Borisov (4-8) in round nine. Shorter Kostov tried to press forward to be headlocked and hugged by Borisov. In round two the latter started to used underbelt punches to trouble Kostov's southern regions. Kostov was down several times, and Borisov was deducted two points for low blows in round three. Both fighters engaged in numerous clinches, slides and even cage-like fighting throughout remainin rounds. Borisov had his moments in round five but Kostov was better in more departments than Borisov. Finally, Borisov was disqualified for another pack of low blows in round nine to his mighty displeasure. Interestingly, both Kostov and Borisov were stopped in three by Etches.
Adam "The Bomber" Etches (14-0, 12 KOs) continued his road of terror with a solid display in Vratsa, where he has bombed out Latvian import Andrejs Loginovs (14-31-1, 7 KOs) in two. Loginovs was pummelled all around the place from the first round. He was finally put down after a series of punches in the second and chose to remain on a knee for a full count.
Scott "Hot Shot" Jenkins (11-0, 6 KOs), a lightweight from Sheffield, UK, looked goods against ultimate fight veteran Rakhim Mingaleev of Ukraine. Mingaleev, 46, is a grizzled (literally) veteran with tons of experience and considerable durability, who hasn't been stopped in a fight mode for more than ten years. Not honouring his achievements, Jenkins, less than twice as young as Mingaleev at 22, began furiously. Mingaleev was down twice in the first round - the last time after a body shot, whilst the first punch wasn't ruled a knockdown. The Ukrainian was down again on a combination of body punches in the second and was continuously punished up until the end of the fourth, when he chose to retire on his stool after a prolonged beating. Mingaleev, a former Ukrainian champion, hasn't won since 2005, fell to 27-67-2, with 8 KOs.
Rising bantamweight Ryan Burnett (4-0, 3 KOs) was forced to go the distance for the first time in his career against tough Spaniard Sergio Perez (4-2). After a lazy start, Burnett started to do damage in round two, finally dropping Perez with a right hand over the ear. Perez got up but looked dazed. He was limited to rare offensive spurts till the end of the fight, trying to dance his way out of danger. He wasn't successful, as Burnett was awarded with a well-earned unanimous decision over six rounds.
In a minor upset, debuting light welterweight Sonny Upton (0-1) lost a unanimous six-round decision to the Spain-based Georgian Goga Koshkelishvili (2-0). Upton, one of Ricky Hatton's pupils, started successfully, outboxing rugged pressure fighter Koshkelishvili from the distance. The Georgian just tried to bully Upton throwing multiple punches, which weren't precise or powerful. Yet, his work has paid off later in the fight, when Upton began to fade under fire. While the first half of the bout was mostly in favour of the Brit, the ending rounds were undoubtedly Goga's.
In a rough and close fight, Kristian Dochev (8-11, 2 KOs) barely got past fellow compatriot Radoslav Mitev (3-15-1, 1 KO) to prove himself as the best competing Bulgarian lightweight. It was a non-title fight. Scores were announced in Bulgarian thus they are yet unknown at this point. BoxingScene had it 58-56 - for Dochev.