By Alexey Sukachev
Crimea, Russia - Fighting for the first time outside of his native Dominican Republic, unheralded and almost unknown local champion Felix Valera (13-0, 12 KOs) scored the biggest win of his career so far, getting a split nod over much more experienced former WBA interim super middleweight champion Stanislav Kashtanov (33-2, 19 KOs), and thus capturing a vacant WBA interim belt at the light heavyweight limit.
WBA #7 Kashtanov, a native of Donetsk, is now fighting out of Serpukhov, Russia. he was supported not only by his team but also by his former promoters from the Union Boxing Promotions and special guest Roy Jones, who has performed several songs before the fight. However, Kashtanov hasn't lived up to the expectations. From the get-go he was too predictable and not very sharp with his punches.
The biggest problem, however, was Valera's style. Not a traditional puncher or kayo artist (despite scoring ten first-round kayos albeit against forgettable opposition), he moved laterally, his hands very low, changes tances and hit unpredictably under unusual angles, trying to befuddle his foe. He was very successful in doing so in the first four rounds. Kashyanov was slightly shaken several times after his left bombs and struggled to find a proper distance.
He did better in the fifth, landing numerous right hands, and in the seventh round. The next few rounds were relatively even, Kashtanov pressuring his opponent and scoring with right hands at the ropes. Valera responded with stiff jabs and wild left hooks. When it seemed he was gassing out, the Dominican dug deep and found extra power to finish the fight really strong in the closing rounds, which was unusual, given the fact he has never got past four rounds.
Two judges saw it in favour of the WBA #8 rated fighter: 116-112 and 115-113, while another one had it 117-111 - for Kashtanov. BoxingScene had it 115-113 - for Valero in clearly the best fight of the night.
WBA #2 middleweight Dmitry Chudinov (15-1-2, 9 KOs) got back in the winning column under the tutelage of his new coach Ali Piduriev, with an eight-round decision over rugged Serbian journeyman Geard Ajetovic (26-13-2, 12 KOs). The fight was first scheduled for twelve rounds, then was reduced to a ten-rounder but in fact they fought over eight rounds.
Chudinov was aggressive, while the Serbian veteran covered himself well behind a tight guard and fired back with his left bombs. Both fighters weren't hurt at any moment of the bout. The fight was practially even, and BoxingScene had it a draw 76-76. No official scores were announced.
Chudinov, 28, while victorious, still looks to be too straightforward and not particularly flexible in his approach. He has a lot of homework to do in the gym. Ajetovic, who had wins over Vyacheslav Uzelkov and Jackson Chanet in his past, has lost his third straight.
Russian super middleweight champion Dilmurod Satybaldiev (9-1, 2 KOs) made a huge leap up in class and upset those doubters who kept saying it was well to early for him by getting a spirited split decision over experienced former two-time world-title challenger Dmitry Sukhotskiy (22-4, 16 KOs) to get a vacant WBA Continental 168lb title.
Sukhotskiy, 34, who lost just narrowly to Juergen Braehmer in 2009 and brutally, on a kayo to Adonis Stevenson six years after that, is rated #13 by the WBC at 175 lbs but came down in weight for this fight. He would have been advised not to do that. Looking sluggish and rusty, Sukhotskiy tried to stalk smaller Satybaldiev and was partially successful in doing so in round one. But from round two on, the 21-year old Crimean resident (of Kyrgyz origin) was in full control. Satybaldiev, much lighter on his feet, was moving laterally and quickly got off Sukhotskiy's fire range after his attacks.
Satybaldiev was especially effective while landing his left hook in short but fiery exchanges. Sukhotskiy was considerably slower and couldn't find his rhythm, struggling to corner his opponent. The rest of the fight was almost similar to rounds two and three with a rare exception being th elast round, when Satybaldiev planted his feet and face his opponent in a face-to-face slugfest, which he has barely won.
All in all, it was a breakout performance for the Crimean boxer. BoxingScene had it 118-110 in his favour but judges were inadequate in complexity of their scores. One of the judges unbelievably saw it for Sukhotskiy: 115-113. He was overruled by the other two: one, who had extra close (116-112 - Satybaldiev) and one, who had it well too wide (120-108 - Satybaldiev), making it a split decision.
Azerbaijani light welterweight Ramal Amanov (9-0) got his first career win inside the distance but was forced to pay a very painful price for that as his Dominican opponent Ranses Payano (19-2, 8 KOs) got disqualified in round three of the scheduled twelve for intentional low blows. Amanov acquired a vacant WBA International 140lb title.
Though a DQ was well justified, Amanov received comeuppance for boxing the way he usually boxes. Amanov's style includes continuous backpedaling, an extant use of pitty-pat slapshots, turnarounds, falls, and a number of other annoying and disturbing tricks. Amanov was also a subject of several close decisions, coming on the winning end of them. Not that Amanov was losing this bout - he wasn't. He was considerably faster and slicker than the Dominican national champion, who had hard time finding his opponent - let alone finding a spot for a clean shot. Amanov also connected with some leather of his own.
In round three, Payano landed a major left hook well south to the border, dropping Amanov down in wild pain. The fight could have been ended right away as Amanov's cornermen entered the ring to help their fighter (which is usually not allowed) but referee Nikolay Sigov hasn't ruled it a violation. The fight was continued in a couple of minutes, and Payano, who was deducted two points foir his actions, landed another clear-cut series to the groin provoking an immediate DQ to end this bizarre fight.
Amanov was a stellar amateur contestant but it looks like he intentionally preserves his amateur style and though it helps him to outpoint his foes, it can also cause anger and a corresponding response from his opponents. Payano, however, shouldn't use his opponent's style for any excuses regarding the outcome of the bout as he was rightfully punished for his violations.
Comebacking lightweight Nikolay Buzolin (2-0-1, 1 KO), who was out of the ring between 2010 and 2015, scored his second career win with the fifth-round stoppage of Belarussian Ilya Reutskiy (6-5-1, 3 KOs). Reutskiy landed some clean punches but his defense was negligible, and Buzolin used it continuously. There were no knockdowns but his opponent's face was a bloody mess since round three, and after conclusion of the fourth round Reutskiy failed to answer the bell for round five.
Young super middleweight gun Magomed Madiev (2-0, 2 KOs) scored his second consecutive first-round knockout with a powerful left hand to the solar plexus that had his opponent Artem Merzlikin (5-2-1, 3 KOs) down and out at 1:40. This fight is the TV opener of the "Mount Gasfordt Battle", an event promoted by Vladimir Hryunov, which takes its place in Yalta, Crimea (not in Sevastopol as was previously announced - due to weather conditions).
Note: weights of both boxers were reported incorrectly yesterday based on a mistake in the official press release.