By Alexey Sukachev
Sochi, Russia - In an upset, heralded former three-time world title challenger Denis Shafikov (40-4-2*, 20 KOs) was held to a draw but far less experienced lightweight Gaybatulla Gadzhialiev (6-1-1*, 2 KOs) in a scheduled ten-rounder.
Gadzhialiev was catching Shafikov early on with spot-on counter left hooks and uppercuts, showing solid timing and uncanny ability. The veteran fighter, who turns 34 in June, caught his second wind in the mid rounds, pressing forward and working his opponent's body but Gadzhialiev came back extra solid in the closing rounds, arguably clinching them.
The final scores announced were: 94-97, 95-95, 96-96 - with no winner being announced (including a single uneven card), making it a majority draw. The asterisk, however, is due for this fight being a quarterfinal of the national boxing cup in this weight class.
As only one fighter could advance further, a winner was announced based on who had claimed the final round... And it was Gadzhialiev. The final outcome and its effect on the boxers' records will be reported later.
Super welterweight Alexander Sharonov (12-3-2, 6 KOs) advanced further in his career with a razor-thin majority decision over physically stronger but slower Akmed Khapachev (3-2-1, 1 KO) over eight rounds.
Sharonov, despite being shorter and smaller of the two, was more aggressive, while Khapachev was more sophisticated despite wearing a bigger frame.
Khapachev was solid in the mid rounds, but Sharonov surged in later rounds to capture them albeit narrowly. Scores were: 77-75, 77-76, and 76-76 - in favour of Sharonov.
In a fan-friendly six-round all-action super lightweight affair Igor Adleiba, originally from Sukhumi, Abkhazia, now representing Moscow, Russia, decisioned Uzbek native Akhmadjon Inakov (1-2-1).
Both fighters gave their all in a thrilling scrap, more subtle and trickier Adleiba being slightly superior in a majority of them. Adleiba, 20, is now 6-0, with 3 KOs, showing glimpses of more than a local promise.