Russia - Fedor Chudinov is surely not the most skillful or masterful even among Russian fighters. What cannot be taken from him is his bravery and ability to entertain fans, which has been proven once again in an epic slugfest with equally brave and iron-willed South African Ryno Liebenberg.
Chudinov came out as the winner of an all-out twelve-rounder with a unanimous decision and retained his WBA Gold super middleweight title. That was a Grand Finale of a show, organized by a well-known Russian promoter Vladimir Hryunov with the support of the Russian Boxing Federation and local sanctioning bodies and funds.
Hryunov was sure the fight was a 50/50 encounter beforehand. Yet WBC #11 Chudinov, 33, came in as a favorite, despite suffering a close draw in his ultimate fight against Isaac Chilemba in February 2021. Liebenberg, 37, started his career with sixteen consecutive wins but competed with mixed results ever since his only stoppage loss to Eleider Alvarez in 2014.
The South African immediately marched forward, dropping out his range and height advantage. And the shootout began. Both combatants - not known for their defensive abilities - stood toe-to-toe and traded punches. Liebenberg was the aggressor in rounds one and two. Chudinov took the initiative by the mid-point but the flow of the fight didn't change a bit. It was a good old slugfest between two fighters with solid punching power and equally solid chins. Chudinov was more methodical, connecting at a higher average rate. Liebenberg at five-six-seven punches to throw in a couple of multi-punch series to trouble Chudinov right back. In round seven, he landed several such multi-punch combos in succession but it hadn't taken any effect on the Russian. Meanwhile, Chudinov's punches were felt a bit more by his opponent.
Chudinov slightly changed tactics in round eight, starting to move more and used sidesteps to avoid Liebenberg's most obvious shots. He also opened a cut below Ryno's left eye. Chudinov's best moment came late into the ninth, when he landed several left hooks, finally sending Liebenberg to the canvas. The South African struggled to get up but finally did and survived a short onslaught right after. He was still dazed at the start of the tenth but regrouped and continued to fight back. Chudniov's dominance was visible in both eleventh and twelfth rounds but Libenberg gave his all and traded bombs till the very end.
All three judges had it unanimously for the Russian: 119-108, 118-109 and 116-111. BoxingScene was in between with a 117-110 scorecard. Fedor moves up to 24-2-1, 16 KOs. Liebenberg is now 21-8-1, 14 KOs.
It looked like Jesus Bravo would be the next prompt victim for a very late sub inr Gor Khachatryan, but the Peruvian manned up for a lengthy fight before ultimately succumbing to the power of Khachatryan at 1:57 of the sixth round.
Khachatryan, 23, coming off a couple of first-round knockouts - with the latest taking place just two weeks ago - replaced 5-0 Khariton Agrba, who was scheduled to fight Bravo but withdrew for undisclosed reasons.
He started very fast, aggressively jumping at the Peruvian. The latter was soon dropped by a smashing left hook but it came a moment after the referee called for a break. It wasn't ruled a knockdown. A minute later Khachatryan dropped Bravo, 26, again - this time officially though Bravo complained of a rabbit punch.
Khachatryan continued the assault in the second round and never looked back. Meanwhile, the taller, rangier Bravo transformed himself under fire and started to fight back. It didn't help him in the second and in the third rounds but he knocked off some sweat and dust off the Russian Armenian in the fourth with several overhand left hooks. The Peruvian also complained continuously of Khachatryan's foul tactics, specifically hitting to the back of the head but referee Irakly Malazonia deducted no points from Khachatryan. It's to be noted that Bravo ducked low all the time thus making him a target for such punches.
Midst into the sixth, Khachatryan dropped Bravo again with a smashing hook, which also landed to a questionable area. Bravo failed to continue after the referee's command and was waved off at 1:57. Khachatryan moves up to 3-0, 3 KOs. Bravo drops down to 19-4-1, 17 KOs.