By Keith Idec
Robert Easter Jr. and Denis Shafikov have both beaten Richard Commey by split decision within the past nine months.
That, according to Easter, might be the only thing they have in common. Easter told BoxingScene.com that he’ll make defeating Shafikov look easy Friday night and predicted he’ll become the first fighter to knock out the Russian southpaw.
The 26-year-old Easter (19-0, 14 KOs) is scheduled to defend his IBF lightweight title against Shafikov (38-2-1, 20 KOs) on Friday night in Toledo, Ohio, Easter’s hometown. The Easter-Shafikov fight will be televised by Bounce TV from Huntington Center, where a crowd in excess of 8,000 attended Easter’s last fight four months ago.
The 32-year-old Shafikov became the mandatory challenger for Easter’s title when he edged Ghana’s Commey (25-2, 22 KOs) in a 12-round fight December 2 in Moscow. Nothing Easter saw while watching highlights from the Shafikov-Commey contest made the unbeaten champion any less confident about what will happen Friday night.
“I’ve seen his style various times,” Easter said. “I’ve faced his style at times, whether it was sparring or during the amateur days or something like that. So it’s nothing I can’t handle or overcome. I’m a professional, so when I’m in that ring I know how to adjust. I’m gonna make it look easy. I will make it look easy because I had tough sparring partners. They brought the heat – they really did. They made me work every day when we stepped in the ring, so I’m gonna make it look easy.”
Shafikov has lost only a pair of 12-round unanimous decisions to Cuba’s Rances Barthelemy (26-0, 13 KOs, 1 NC) and Mexico’s Miguel Vazquez (37-5, 14 KOs). The 5-feet-11 Easter, who stands six inches taller than his opponent, just can’t see Shafikov lasting 12 rounds against him Friday night.
“Just be ready for a quick night,” Easter said. “I’m going to be the first to knock him straight on his butt and stop him. I’m gonna knock him out.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.