Don't punch with a puncher a proverbial wisdom says. Ruslan Fayfer stepped up to the challenge as the old saying says and paid a dear price to his opponent, Alexey Papin, who came out as knockout winner in the WBC cruiserweight eliminator - the main event of a huge night of boxing in Kazan, Russia.
IBF #1, WBC #5 and WBO #6 Fayfer, 29, should have been a runaway leader on all the judges's scorecards at the time of stoppage. It wasn't unexpected. A majority of Russian boxing community and a majority of bookmakers preferred Papin by a stoppage but the only other option was Fayfer's domination to a points victory.
And for five consecutive rounds Fayfer was doing his job brilliantly. He was staying in the pocket, taking hard, damage-oriented Papin's punches mostly on his gloves, avoiding them with his head and upper-body movement.
Fayfer wasn't running but he was elusive despite staying close to a wicked puncher in Papin. He also used sudden uppercuts and sneaky crosses to trouble Papin.
Alexey, 32, wasn't taking heavy punishment but he was getting frustrated and he also earned a cut over the bridge of his nose in the third round. Fayfer ate some leather but Papin couldn't land cleanly, being late a bit for almost every punch and almost every defensive move. When in acute danger, Fayfer smartly clinched WBC #4 Papin, but those clinches were rare.
So, the fight was clearly moving to Fayfer (46-49 after the fifth by the BoxingScene), when Papin finally found a room for a very hard right hand, which landed cleanly early into the sixth. He followed it up with a left hook and then added two smashing right hands to the temple of an already falling opponent. Fayfer got down hard, was up at six but in wobbly condition. He has smartly moved to the corner but referee Irakli Malazonia looked carefully into his eyes... and waved it off to a mild dismay of Fayfer. Time of stoppage was 0:37.
With the win, Alexey Papin (12-1, 11 KOs) earned a right for a rematch with Congolese Ilunga Makabu, who is a reigning WBC cruiserweight champion. Makabu barely got past Papin on a majority decision in their original clash in August 2019. As for Fayfer, he suffered his second loss, moving down to 25-2, with 16 KOs. Interestingly, Papin vs. Fayfer was a rematch too - this couple clashed against each other a while ago. Don't expect to track it down on BoxRec - at least, in boxing section - it had been conducted under kickboxing rules, and Papin is reported to have been seriously better in that encounter. He proved he was better in boxing too.
Khariton Agrba, 24, is not fun to watch for anyone except for boxing trainers and boxing purists - a common sin for talented amateurs - but he is indeed masterful in what he is doing, and that is neglecting his opponent's offense. Agrba was at his peak in a fight against 20-1 Soslan Tedeev, who was outboxed for ten one-sided, mostly boring rounds in another display of pure but not-so-thrilling mastery.
Agrba, a quick southpaw switch-hitter, started to circle around Tedeev, 25, from the opening bell, shifting mostly to his right to avoid Tedeev's money punch in a hard right hand. Tedeev just failed to cut angles and to corner Agrba, when the latter moved laterally, and was unable to land cleanly in rare mano-a-mano exchanges. All in all, he was just slower and less flexible than the amateur fighter, who aims to continue in both pain and unpaid fighting, which is now partially allowed by the AIBA.
The only thrilling moment of the fight came in round five, when Agrba injured his left shoulder, which however was repaired during the break. Tedeev was unable to catch Agrba nevertheless. He was just too quick. No scores were announced but 100-90 or 99-91 cards should be expected. Agrba is now 4-0, 1 KO, while Tedeev gets back to 20-2, with 13 KOs.
In a battle of two previously undefeated fighters, Russian Sergey Kozhukhar (9-0-1, 2 KOs) scored a comfortable unanimous decision over rugged Abkhaz native Batal Chezhiya (9-1-2, 3 KOs) to acquire a vacant WBC Youth super middleweight crown.
Both fighters tried to showcase their best skills, but Kozhuhar was just a notch better in almost every round, though Chezhiya was alway in the fight. No scores were announced, but BoxingScene had it 98-93 - for the Russian in what was an intensive but otherwise methodical ten-rounder.
Albert Batyrgaziev, a two-way super featherweight from Nizhnevartovsk, Russia, continued his eventual journey into the world of prizefighting, with his second consecutive stoppage win - this time against previously undefeated Kyrgyz Erzhan Turgumbekov, who was stopped at 1:32 of the tenth round.
"Two-way" means that Batyrgaziev, 22, doesn't consider a pro run seriously at the time (despite fighting in ten-rounders immediately after the start), but rather plans to utilize his extra pro experience in the upcoming Olympic run, weighing in extra options after that. Despite that, Batyrgaziev fights diligently which means bad news for his opponents. given his huge amateur experience. However, the Ekaterinburg-based and RCC-promoted Kyrgyz fighter used all he had to give fits to a stellar amateur.
And it worked for him in the opening rounds, when he was able to time Batyrgaziev when the latter got too cocky or reckless. The fight was a mixture of a chess match with a dominating performance by Batyrgaziev and a firefight, when Turgumbekov, 25, had his own chances. But his reflexes and speed were inferior to those of his foe, and he paid the price for his chances, eating leather.
As rounds went by, Turgumbekov started to fade, while his only success - a bleeding nose of Batyrgaziev - started to heal within the fight. Erzhan was deducted a point in round six for punching low. He was getting punished in rounds eight and nine, becoming increasingly wobbly. Referee Yuri Koptsev was well advised to stop it no later than the eighth but he gave the Kyrgyz every chance possible up until the point, then he became defenseless and eating punches in the tenth. Too brave for his own good he was stopped just a minute and a half before the end of the road.
Batyrgaziev improved to 2-0, 2 KOs, and indeed got some very useful lessons on his way so far. Turgumbekov is now 8-1-1, 2 KOs.
Coming back after a year and a half away the ring of what was a proposed retirement, former WIBA lightweight champion Firuza Sharipova came back at a higher weight class to completely dominate inept Tanzanian Happy Daudi to capture a vacant IBA light welterweight belt in five one-sided rounds.
Sharipova used her blistering speed to score in success in the opening rounds. Then she concentrated on the body of the Tanzanian champion, who immediately became a stationary target for more punishment. Daudi bravely tried to counter onrushing Sharipova but just hadn't enough skills and reflexes to do so. Finally, late into the first she raised her hands refusing to continue in a "no mas" fashion thus crowning her opponent. Daudi, 33, drops down to 8-7-1, 4 KOs, while Sharipova, 25, improves to 11-1, 6 KOs. Her sole loss came in her pro debut against 2012 Olympic silver medalist and an old-time Katie Taylor-rival Sofya Ochigava - the fighter she is aiming at now for a rematch.
Hulking heavyweight Arslan Iallyev overcame the toughest test of his young career and acquired his first career title with a hard-fought unanimous decision over ex-cruiserweight Andrey Knyazev, who was there to fight and maybe to upset his opponent.
Iallyev, 23 and 6'5'', was considerably younger and much bigger than the former Russian cruiserweight champion, who was eleven years older and more than five inches shorter than the Dagestani. Iallyev connected with hard, punishing blows but they lacked crucial precision not to push but to sting and rock Knyazev. Nevertheless, he took the first couple of rounds on tempo and overall tonnage even though the veteran fighter has never been in much trouble.
Two years off the ring, Knyzaev took some time to adjust and to brush off his rust. When he did, he started to give heat to the young gun in return, using his timing to connect with some solid blows. He worked his way through fatigue, while Iallyev finished the fight at a slower pace and with some punches. No scores were announced, but Iallyev was declared a winner on a unanimous decision and the new WBC Youth Silver heavyweight titlist. He is now 10-0, 5 KOs, while Knyazev is 16-8, 9 KOs.