by Alexey Sukachev
Baltic Boxing Union (BBU), a steadily-rising Finland-based local sanctioning body, has been more than active (in comparison to its past standards) nowadays. In just a week, two BBU-sanctioned championships have been held in two places, which hardly could be more different geographically.
On Saturday, July 16, Russian super bantamweight champion Andrey Bogdanov (13-1-1, 4 KOs) thanked his local supporters with a victorious performance for the vacant BBU 122lb title in his native city of Pskov. Bogdanov, 30, and clearly not the biggest name even on the European stage, delivered guts, character and some skills to clearly outpoint Slovakian journeyman Elemir Rafael (15-48-1, 1 KO) over ten rounds. Rafael, who was 3-0 in his last fights coming into this one, showed some poise and durability to give Bogdanov a stern test even though he lacked a much needed productivity.
Each of the fighters was deducted a point. Bogdanov lost one in the sixth for hitting after the break, while Rafael (who was boxing under the Latvian license) was punished in the seventh for dangerous use of his head. After all scorecards were summed, the Russian boxer came out as a winner with convincing scores: 98-90, 99-90, and 98-91 – all for Andrey Bogdanov. Alexander Yagupov promoted this sole fight of the night.
A week after in Comunidad Valenciana, Spain, two Ukrainian fighters collided for a vacant BBU belt at the light welterweight limit. One can wonder why Ivan Gryniuk (6-1, 3 KOs) and Artiom Ayvazidi (10-2, 5 KOs) were allowed to take part in a Baltic title fight. The reason is simple: Ukraine (just like Belarus and Norway) is linked culturally and also in terms of boxing to the Baltic region even though all three states don’t border the Sea. That’s why the Baltic Boxing Union Board of Control decided to allow Ukrainian, Belarussian and Norse fighters to participate in the title contests, and all three states were included to the BBU as associated members.
Meanwhile, in this particular fight, Spain-based Gryniuk scored a substantial upset by outpointing the seemingly much more capable Ayvazidi in a close and tight fight. Scores were 79-76 (twice) and 77-75 – all for the local fighter. Ayvazidi was coming of the best performance of his career so far – a close and highly controversial split loss to world-ranked compatriot Sergey Fedchenko but July 23 was clearly not his date.
Finally, another BBU title fight looms soon in the sport’s glamour division. On September 24 in Vaasa, Finland, “Finnish Butterbean” Janne Katajisto (8-0-1, 3 KOs) will try to capture two vacant title instantly. Katajisto, 33, who is penciled to battle former cruiserweight national champion Petter Antman (8-1-1, 1 KO), 30, will contest for both Finnish and BBU heavyweight belts. His latest try to get the BBU title failed when he earned just a draw against unheralded Latvian Pavels Dolgovs in May. Petro Koskimies promotes this event.