After a relatively slow start in a new weight class, 2021 Tokyo Olympics gold medalist Albert Batyrgaziev jumped right into the title picture with a dominant stoppage win over former WBA super featherweight champion Jezreel Corrales in nine action-packed lightweight rounds. It was Albert's soundest victory so far.

Southpaw Batyrgaziev, Russia's only gold medalist in the most recent Olympic tourney, started his pro career (while still an amateur) as a featherweight notching five stoppages in a row. In 2022, he moved two divisions up in weight to test lightweight waters, and some of his magic was gone, or, at least, it seemed so. ALBA struggled a bit against lightly regarded Gaybatulla Gadzhialiev and then struggled even more against former title challenger Ricardo Nunez. Both wins were dominant as per the judges' scorecards, but they were closer in reality and had a taste of competitive fights.

WBA #6 lightweight Corrales, 31, got his best win more than six years ago, scoring a sensational road knockout of a long-time champion Takashi Uchiyama. After losing his title on a kayo to Alberto Machado in 2017, Corrales' career was a roller coaster. The Panamanian put pre-COVID setbacks behind him and went into his fight with Batyrgaziev with three consecutive wins, including his most recent drubbing of 27-0 Miguel Madueno.

The Russian made a statement in the very first round. He started aggressively putting Corrales on his back foot. The Panamanian tried to get ALBA's respect but was tagged massively to his jaw with a hard straight left. Soon thereafter, a sharp right jab right into his face forced the Panamanian down for a count. Up at six, Corrales continued rumbling but was rocked several more times before the bell.

Batyrgaziev, 24, picked up right where he left in the second round. Corrales was retreating under fire, but ALBA's bombs caught his attention, and he found salvation in occasional holding several times. The heavy right jab was very potent for the Russian, and he tried to follow it with a left cross whenever possible.

In the third, Corrales started to find timing for his counter-punches, and he was successful in setting traps for Batyrgaziev several times. The Russian continued to dominate, but Corrales was game and fluid. Right uppercut and overhand rights were doing their work for the Panamanian, but ALBA took his punches well.

Rounds four and five saw Corrales find his rhythm and range under fire. Batyrgaziev didn't look tired but sometimes couldn't land cleanly and left himself open for big shots by the guest fighter. Corrales has done enough to level the game but not enough to set up his breakthrough.

In the sixth, it seemed this breakthrough was starting. Feeling some fatigue from Batyrgaziev, Corrales walked forward for the first time, throwing combos to trouble the Russian and create visible reddening at the right side of his face. Despite some difficulties, Albert didn't let his opponent take the lead. He continued to land his shots, but the round was clearly in Corrales' favor. I was the only such round in the fight.

Sensing the fight could easily get off-road, Batyrgaziev increased his punch output and effectiveness in the seventh round. His overhand right was specifically effective, even though it looked more like a swing than a cross. In the eighth, Batyrgaziev was in total control. The drubbing started with a huge right jab / left cross / right hook combo, which shook the Panamanian badly. Wobbling around the ring, Corrales was also eating punches and couldn't catch his breath. Batyrgaziev wasn't rushing to stop it, respecting the danger of Jezreel's punches. Yet by the end of the round, Corrales was seriously hurt.

The end was near, and Batyrgaziev ensured it would come up sooner than later. Early into the ninth, he hurt Corrales again and continued his demolition job until a towel was thrown by the corner of the former champion. The time of the stoppage was 0:28 of the ninth round.

With his biggest win and loudest statement so far, Albert Batyrgaziev improves his record to 8-0, 6 KOs. A major fight is being talked over for the Russian, if the consequences of a full-blown military conflict between Russia and Ukraine won't derail it. Corrales, meanwhile, drops down to 26-5, with 10 KOs.