By Alexey Sukachev at ringside
In one of the bloodiest Russian encounters of 2011, Moscow-based Azerbaijani Vusal Aliyev grabbed the vacant Baltic Boxing Union middleweight title at the “Sport-Service” arena in Podolsk, Russia. His opponent, gutsy Ukrainian youngster Bogdan Protsyshyn was no loser, delivering an extremely brave performance against a bigger guy.
Aliyev, 29, is an experienced southpaw operator, despite his limited professional resume, has tons of amateur experience and debuted in the paid ranks in 2007. Protsyshyn, 23, is quite the opposite. With a limited amount of amateur fights to rely on, Protsyshyn debuted as a pro less than a year ago but managed to get even more contests than his seasoned foe.
In his debut, Bogdan of Rovno, Ukraine, defeated former amateur star David Tabatadze. The fight was a quarterfinal bout in the Ukrainian version of the “Contender” reality series, and Protsyshyn went all the way to the final round, where he was defeated by the same Tabatadze in a very controversial bout. Since then, he was constantly fighting in his Homeland with mixed success.
However, whatever his results were in real life, one particular thing about him remained intact through his first year as a prizefighter – people’s love and support. In each of his fights, Protsyshyn, who can hardly be viewed as a master of the ring, went through pain and sweat to deliver his best for all of the fans in attendance. Guts and will is what the tough Ukrainian will always be remembered for - regardless of how his career will actually end.
This particular fight was no different than anything either boxer has produced in the past. Aliyev, a smooth technician with considerable punching power, began to deliver the heat to Protsyshyn in the very first round. The Ukrainian fighter tried to work from the outside but his footwork wasn’t tight enough to provide him with a sizable playing ground. Aliyev, on the other hand, pressed the action and landed numerous punches to the head and body of Bogdan.
In the second stanza, Protsyshyn stood his ground but Aliyev was just a bit too powerful for him. He also connected with the harder punches to cause a flow of blood from the Ukrainian’s nose. In rounds three and four, Aliyev continued to deliver more but Protsyshyn summoned his famous toughness and determination to answer every assault from Vusal.
Starting at round five, it became obvious that the crowd, mixed with Armenian, Azer and local pro-Slavic supporters, started to support the Ukrainian a little bit more enthusiastic than his opponent. Aliyev was the better fighter despite the crowd reactions. He was also landing some grand slams to penetrate Bogdan’s loose defense.
It all changed in the dramatic sixth round, when Protsyshyn put Aliyev on the brink of defeat with a huge left haymaker, which sent the Azeri fighter crushing down after Bogdan wobbled him with the initial punch. Aliyev barely got up to beat the count of referee Alexander Kalinkin. Protsyshyn went after the kill but Aliyev summoned all his seasoned power and toughness to survive until the bell. The Ukrainian was fighting a ten-rounder for the first time in his career.
In the seventh, it became obvious that Protsyshyn had little very left in the tank, while Aliyev had fully recovered from a scary moment in the previous stanza. He was wilting and running out of gas but never stopped retaliating, and received terrific support from the majority of the local fans.
In rounds eight and nine, Aliyev gradually beat Protsyshyn to the punch but the Ukrainian, with a bloody mask of red and a big heart, never stopped trying to overcome a better fighter in the Azeri. Vusal, meanwhile, showed his guts and grit as well going through some heavy punishment to deliver more than his opponent. In the tenth, Protsyshyn was almost out on his feet but managed to survive until the final bell.
In the end, all three judges had it unanimously for Vusal Aliyev: 98-91 (Evgueny Gorstkov and Baban Nadyrov) and 96-93 (Evgueny Moskalev). BoxingScene’s scorecard was identical to the latter score. Aliyev, now 8-0, with 4 KOs, captured his first professional title – the BBU middleweight belt. Protsyshyn, 6-3, 1 KO, captured hearts of the local fans.
The chief support was another notable slugfest,where local Armenian Hrachik Margaryan (2-0-1, 2 KOs) was held to a draw by Ukrainian Dmitry Makanu (0-2-1) despite scoring a knockdown in the first round of a scheduled four.
The show was promoted by former Russian welterweight champion Sergey Stepkin and his partner Valery Popov. Around 500 fans were in attendance. BoxingScene’s Alexey Sukachev served as the BBU supervisor for this event.