By Alexey Sukachev
Latvia - It took lightweight fringe contender Fedor "The Knockout Man" Papazov (19-2, 12 KOs) almost ten rounds to take out extremely durable and tough Mexican veteran Uriel Barrera for the second defense of his IBO I/C 135lb title. The fight was stopped with just 70 seconds remaining in the tenth and final round. Barrera, 32, never went down in the fight.
Papazov, 31, started to impose beating on the Mexican right after the starters. The fight was expected to be short as Barrera was fighting just for the third time since his five-year long hiatus. But the Mexican showed an unusual toughness and trademark national pride to eat too many punches without going down. Rounds two, three and four were remotely competitive but then Papazov got a complete lead. Barrera was wilting under his power, fighting in survival mode, clinching when needed and answering right when he Papazov was ready to fire one last punch to make the referee stop it. Instead Barrera was hanging on in dangerous state, receiving punishment.
Truth be told, the fight should have been stopped around the end of round seven as there was no reason to prolong this beating. Yet both the corner of the proud Mexican and Polish referee Leszek Jankowiak let it go. The mercy ending came just in the tenth round after another clear combo of Papazov. Barrera (now 22-7, 13 KOs) never went down. He was stopped just once in his career.
Youth over Experience - Russia-based Armenian Lendrush Akopyan (7-0, 4 KOs) got a controversial six-round decision over Estonian Pavel Semenov (17-6-2, 7 KOs) in a heated clash between two light middleweights.
Semenov, 31, immediately collided with Akopyan - right after the starting bell. An encounter resulted in a cut over Akopyan's left eye, while Semenov marched forward, firing shots. Both fighters rumbled hard for fight fans' joy and pleasure until the end of round one. Akopyan, 21, showed some skills in rounds two and three but it wasn't enough to put the Estonian into the defensive mode. Akopyan, who debuted in 2016 with six wins, was too emotional and overly active for Semenov.
In round four, the Estonian scored several major blows, which put Akopyan in danger, and continued his success story in the fifth. Round six was mostly even but it was Akopyan who was slightly better. Nevertheless, BoxingScene had it 58-56 - for Semenov, while all three judges awarded it to AKopyan: 58-56, and ridiculuous 59-57 (two even rounds) and 60-57 (three even rounds). Semenov has yet to be stopped in the ring, whilst Akopyan has still ver ymuch to learn inside the squared circle.
A multi-time Russian amateur national champion, 2010 European champion and 2016 Russian Olympic Team captain Artem Chebotarev made his debut in the pro game with an impressive display of skill and power. Fighting against 76-match veteran Norbert Szekeres (18-56-3, 9 KOs) of Hungary, the 28-year old from Saratov took the first round to adjust himself to new experience, then poured on with combinations in round two, rarely missing a punch. He beat his opponent right into submission, getting his first win at 2:08 of the round.
Chebotarev, who was hunted down by various pro managers and opponents as early as 2008, is signed with Russian promoter Yuri Fedorov, who is best known for staging the first heavyweight title fight in Russia, involving a Russian boxer (Oleg Maskaev) ten years ago. Chebotarev fights as a super middleweight.
Fighting for the fourth time in Latvia, Russian light middleweight Sergey "Hooligan" Shigashev improved his record to 6-0, with 3 KOs, after a workmanlike stoppage of Tanzanian Joseph Sinkala (11-10-1, 5 KOs) in five rounds. Shigashev, 28, dominated the fight but was unable to really hurt his opponents. As rounds went by Shigashev's domination became extra telling and the fight was stopped at 2:40 on a towel from the Tanzanian's corner.
Former WBA flyweight king (and not the worst one - by far!) Lorenzo Parra (32-6-2, 19 KOs), who scored road wins over such fighters as Takefumi Sakata (twice), Eric Morel, Brahim Asloum and Yo Sam Choi, and drew with multidivision world champion Jorge Arce on his turf, continued his sad journey of a famed trialhorse. Parra, 38, was dropped no less than six times - once in the 4th round, thrice in the fifth stanza, and two times in the sixth - in a six-rounder against Russian welterweight champion Petros Ananyan but summoned all what was left of his better self to somehow survive until the final bell. Scores were: 60-51, 60-50, and 60-48 - for Ananyan, who improves to 10-0-2, 5 KOs.
In a complete mismatch, Russian heavyweight Vladimir Tereshkin (20-0-1, 10 KOs) dropped Hungarian trialhorse Tamas Bajzath (12-20-1, 6 KOs) once in the first and three times in the second round for a TKO win to be announced at 1:02 of the round.
It took super featherweight Ilya Blinnikov (3-0, 1 KO) all four rounds to get the better of well-travelled Venezuelan veteran Franklin Varela (21-28, 10 KOs). Blinnikov boxed well, dropped Varela briefly in the third but showed a lack of punching power. Scores were: 40-35, 40-35, and 40-36. Varela, 39, has lost his 20th bout in a row.
In a welterweight clash, debuting Russian Abdula Abubakarov (1-0) decisioned Estonian Maxim Wilde (1-1) unanimously over four. Abubakarov dropped his foe in round one, and then with a perfect body punch in round two but failed to get the job done being not aggressive and also skillful enough to finish his foe. Final scores were: 40-35, 40-34, and 40-34 - for Abubakarov.
In a battle of two recent debutants, cruiserweight Nikolajs Grishunins (2-0, 1 KO) got his first stoppage win by dismantling fellow compatriot Konstantin Bulohovs (2-2, 2 KOs) in less than a round. Grishunins put his opponent down three times with perfectly timed right hands to get the TKO at 2:40 of the round.