By Alexey Sukachev
The only fighter of note not involved to the World Boxing Super Series that kicks off in September, left a small note tonight that he is still around. WBA Super champion (for whatever it is worth) Denis Lebedev improved his record to 30-2-1 NC, 22 KOs, with a one-sided unanimous decision over little-known WBA #6 Australian Mark Flanaghan, who drops to 22-5, 15 KOs.
The fight was barely going from the opening bell. Both combatants chose somewhat cautious and thus tedious approach. Lebedev, 37, was seemingly an aggressor but he wasn't pushing the fight ti the Australian, ten years his younger. Lebedev relied more on one-twos, while Flanghan threw semi-wide punches to do just enough to keep him in the fight. Lebedev has slowly increasing the tempo and punch rate but he has never put the Australian into the danger zone. Flanaghan did little to win any points and seemed to be glad just to be there.
The only exciting moment of the fight took place in round nine, when Lebedev dropped his for with a wicked left punch to the body. Flanaghan easily beat the count and even let his hands fly a bit. Lebedev has never pushed for a stoppage, so that the end was flat and slow. All three judges had it for the Russian: 120-107, 119-108, 119-108.
Lebedev made the sixth defense of his belt, continuing his unlikely reign into its sixth year. During his tenure as champion, Denis lost twice - the first loss (a TKO 11 to Guillermo Jones) was later erased from the books, being changed to NC when Jones got caught cheating with performance-enhancing drugs. The other loss (to Murat Gassiev in December 2016) was only for the IBF belt, which was won by Lebedev a year ago. The WBA title wasn't at stake thus allowing Gassiev to win just the IBF title on a close split decision.
A number of notables made headlines in the crowd, including former WBA/WBO/IBF light heayweight champion Sergey Kovalev, former light welterweight champion Ruslan Provodnikov, heavyweight contender and former champion Alexander Povetkin, light welterweight ex-champion Eduard Troyanovskiy, and welterweight prospect Magomed Kurbanov among others.
IBF #12 and WBA #14 lightweight Pavel Malikov (12-0, 5 KOs) won the biggest fight of his roller-coaster career so far by beating former world title challenger Daiki Kaneko over ten with a split decision in a non-title fight. All in all, Russia went 4-0, 1 KO, against Japan in a virtual team competition in boxing, and 6-1, 3 KOs, including MMA and muay thai contests.
Malikov, 31, who started his career 4-0, 1 KO, in 2010 before serving several years in the jail for a crime connection, had a huge round one, dropping the taller Japanese with a counter right hand to the jaw and opening a deep cut over his left eyebrow. Kaneko resurface in the second, and both fighters started to mix it up. Taller and more experienced Kaneko, 29, was an aggressor, pressing the fight. Specifically tattooed Malikov was showing both grit and spirit and solid boxing fundamentals in avoiding danger by some smart footwork.
In the mid rounds, Kaneko began to land his body shots frequently. Malikov started to slow down and had his face reddened by multiple shots of Kaneko. Still the Russian fought back with vengeance, rocking Kaneko several times. The ending rounds were both brutal and viscous as both combatants were engaged into a war of attrition. Malikov, despite fatigue and multiple hematomae was able to withstand Kaneko's final effort and... knocked him down bad a few seconds after the bell.
Final scores were: 97-92 and 95-94 - for Pavel Malikov, and 95-94 - for Daiki Kaneko, who also drops down to 26-6-3, with 18 KOs. The Japanese is best known for his valiant effort in December 2013 against reigning WBA super featherweight champion Takeshi Uchiyama, whom he had dropped in the 10th despite losing 110-117 on all the judges' scorecards.
Fetaherweight prospects Mark Urvanov and Jin Miura engaged into a crowd-pleasing eight round slugfest for Urvanov's WBO Asia Pacific Youth 126lb title. Both combatants threw the defense out of the window and exchanged wild punches in order to drop one another. The fight was totally even (BoxingScene had it 76-76 - a draw) but Urvanov (11-1, 6 KOs) came out as a winner with a split decision. Scores were 77-75, 77-75, and 75-77 - for the Russian. Miura drops down to 9-2, 1 KO.
Hard-hitting lightweight southpaw Muhammadkhuja Yakubov (8-0, 5 KOs) retained his WBO Youth 135lb title for the first time with a blistering first-round stoppage of Japanese challenger Daiki Ichikawa (9-3, 7 KOs). The Japanese was down first after a right hook of Yakubov, then got dropped with a left cross and finally was finished at the ropes with another left. Time of stoppage was 1:50.
A boxing part of a huge MMA/Boxing/Muay Thai card, promoted by RCC Boxing Promotions at the DIVS in Ekaterinburg, Russia, has kicked off with a fan-friendly and blood-filled slugfest between light welterweights Zaur Abdullaev and Mao Kawanishi. Abdullaev rocked his opponent in round three, battered him in the fourth but was unable to finish his durable Japanese opponent off inside the scheduled distance of four rounds. Final scores were 40-36, 40-36 and 39-37 - for Zaur Abdullaev (5-0, 3 KOs). Kawanishi goes down to 4-3, 1 KO.