Ratel Pro Fights, a new player on the Russian boxing scene, has kicked off its professional career with a nice-packed five-bout tournament in Kazan, Russia, once one of the hotbeds of pugilism in the country, now relegated to occasional events. The new tourney, billed as “The Kazan Kremlin’s Cup” took place yesterday, March 12, at the Pyramide, and there were five pro contests on the card. An honorary guest – and none other than fight icon Roy Jones Jr. – performed some rapping to open the evening.
Former female superstar Sofya Ochigava resumed her pro career after three and a half years off the ring with a bang, effectively destroying Italian veteran Amira Cannizzaro in four. Ochigava acquired a vacant IBA lightweight title in process.
The Russian rocked Cannizzaro with a straight right hand at the end of round one. Southpaw Ochigava continued pounding in the second, landing at will. The Italian, 43, tried hard but was outboxed and outpunched, Ochigava showing much sharper reflexes. The Russian got the job done early into the fourth, when onrushing Cannizzaro (6-7-1, 1 KO) was caught by a hellacious right hook on her way in, which put her down and out for a couple of scary minutes. Time was 0:28. Cannizzaro was stopped for the first time in her career.
Ochigava (now 3-0, 1 KO) turned pro in May 2016, outpointing future titleholder Firuza Sharipova on the undercard of Denis Lebedev vc. Victor Ramirez WBA/IBF cruiserweight unification. Ochigava, not a spring chicken at 32, was a megastar of amateur ring, winning two World and three European gold medals. She had won over a number of future elite prizefighters, including Mikaela Meyer, Nicola Adams (four times), Natasha Jonas (twice), Chantelle Cameron (twice) and Katie Taylor, her bitter nemesis. Ochigava lost to Taylor 8-10 in the final of 2012 London Olympics. She has Taylor on her sight for a huge revenge in future.
In what was billed as the main event but had some taste of just a partial fulfillment – mostly due to Ochigava’s chilling knockout – WBA Gold cruiserweight Alexey Egorov (10-0, 7 KOs) scored a workmanlike decision over tough-as-nails Czech import Vasil Ducar (8-3-1, 7 KOs) in a ten-rounder.
Ducar, 30, gave fits to Egorov, 28, in power and size departments but the Russian mad up for this in technique and ring generalship, though the fight has never been easy for him. Ducar was surprisingly effective with his jab and also landed some telling blows in close quarters. Egorov, while eating too many unnecessary punches, never stopped landing.
Ducar looked solid in mid rounds but Egorov showed grit and will to take the later round, almost stopping Ducar in the ninth. Final scores were: 99-92, 97-94 and 97-94 – for the Russian fighter but Ducar has nothing to be ashamed off.
19-year old Russian banger Vitaliy Petryakov acquired his first professional title with the third-round stoppage of Ghanaian import Justice Addy (16-8-1, 14 KOs). Petryakov, who improved his record to 7-0, 6 KOs, was in full control of the fight, beating his opponent to the punch, using blistering right bombs to trouble the African. The end came 1:45 of the third, when Petryakov landed a crushing right cross to the chin, which put Addy down. The Ghanaian got up in time but stumbled back prompting referee Sergey Litunov to issue a halt. Petryakov is now a proud holder of the IBA International welterweight title.
Stagnating career of a one-time light heavyweight prospect Sergey Ekimov took another hit, as he was thoroughly outpointed by recent debutant Ali Izmaylov (3-0, 1 KO) over eight rounds. Sergey started well but as soon as Ali found his range and upped tempo, Ekimov became a stationary target for Izmaylov’s punches. The veteran was just too inactive and was fighting too much in trenches. Final scores were: 79-73, 79-73, and 78-75 – Izmaylov. Ekimov has lost his second straight fight – the previous defeat was a one-sided unanimous to Latvian gatekeeper Ricards Bolotniks. He is 18-2, 9 KOs, now.
Light heavyweight Rasul Aliev made an impressive pro debut, dropping Ukrainian no-hoper Valentin Zbrozhek (5-15-1, 2 KOs) four times en route to the first-round stoppage. Aliev dropped Zbrozhek thrice with right hands and got the job done at 2:20 of the round with a left hook to the chin of the Ukrainian.