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Drozd Dominates Wlodarczyk For Cruiserweight Title

By Jake Donovan

There would not be any late round heroics for Krzysztof Wlodarczyk, whose thrilling cruiserweight title reign came to a close Saturday evening in Moscow. Grigory Drozd proved too much to handle for the visiting titlist, claiming a landslide unanimous decision in a fight that went a long way towards justifying early career accolades as one to watch. 

Action began slow, a pace desired by the defending titlist. Drozd wasn’t as inclined to accommodate, as the challenger was by far the busier fighter of the two. The level of his effectiveness was open to debate, but enough to pile up points early on, as the Russian was deservedly up on all three scorecards – 39-37 (twice) and 39-38 - after four rounds, as revealed through open scoring.

That it wasn’t a shutout to that point was only because Drozd slowed down considerably in round four. The lack of punch output from either fighter in the three-minute frame was a testament to Wlodarczyk’s ability to smother his younger challenger’s punches.

Such strategy was only effective in spots. Drozd knew to not waste punches, and also had no fear of incoming as what little Wlodarczyk offered carried minimal impact. With the support of the crowd behind him, the 35-year old challenger showed poise and confidence throughout the evening.

An adrenaline rush was provided to the crowd in round eight, when Drozd rocked the defending champ early in the frame before dropping him moments later. An overhand right snuck around the guard of Wlodarczyk, enough to where his senses were jarred as a straight right – appearing far less damaging – prompted him to take a knee. 

Wlodarczyk wisely remained down as he took the mandatory eight count before informing the referee he was ready to continue. There wasn’t enough time in the round for Drozd to finish him off, nor did he seem in a hurry to end matters. The 13-year veteran was patient as he stalked the wounded Pole, with an extra charge given to the crowd when open scoring revealed Drozd to be miles ahead on the cards after eight rounds. 

A stay of execution was granted to Wlodarczyk when time was called late in round nine to repair loose tape on his glove. Drozd momentarily struggled to regain his rhythm, instead offering lateral movement as the champ – infamous for past late-round heroics – attempted to take the lead towards round’s close. 

While loose tape can’t be planned midway through or late in a round, it provided a second wind for Wlodarczyk. Drozd was outfought for much of round 10, though still landing the heavier blows on the occasions where he planted his feet and let loose with his right hand. 

Drozd resumed his role as aggressor at the start of the championship rounds, prompting Wlodarczyk to excessively clinch. More of the same occurred in the 12th and final round, though it only prolonged the eventual celebration by the Moscow crowd in anticipation of a new champion being crowned.

The judges obliged, with scores of 118-109 and119-108 (twice) and allowing Drozd’s dream to come true. A success story 13 years in the making, Drozd improves to 39-1 (27KOs) with the win, forever putting behind the memories of his lone loss – a 5th round knockout against Firat Arslan in a 2006 bout that was too much too soon for the then-rising prospect.

Wlodarczyk’s thrilling title reign comes to an anticlimactic close. Now a two-time former champ, Saturday’s debacle denies a 50th career win as he falls to 49-3-1 (35KOs). The loss was his first since May ’07, when his first title reign ended in a majority decision loss to Steve Cunningham in their title fight rematch. The bout was his fourth road trip in the span of five fights. 

The televised co-feature saw Denis Lebedev pick up his first win in 21 months with a 2nd round knockout of Poland’s Pawel Kolodziej. A full recap can be found HERE

Both bouts aired live on Integrated Sports PPV in the United States.

Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene.com, as well as the Records Keeper for the Transnational Boxing Ratings Board and a member of Boxing Writers Association of America. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox

User Comments and Feedback (Register For Free To Comment) Comment by Deontay Wilder on 09-27-2014

Droz needs to stop ducking Roy Jones Jr.

Comment by Tobi.G on 09-27-2014

So a longtime champ lost his title. I thought Drozd might win this though. Now we Need some unification fights at cruiserweight.

Post a Comment - View More User Comments (2)
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