By Alexey Sukachev
Monaco - No one, not Dmitry Pirog and not Paul Williams and not even James Kirkland - were able to put a proud Japanese warrior like Nobuhiro Ishida in danger of getting stopped. WBA and IBO middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin, rightfully called one of the most frightening terrors in modern boxing, did exactly that in shocking (and thus scary) style, knocking WBA #15 Ishida out cold in the third round of a scheduled twelve.
Golovkin, 30, a former amateur superstar and one of the most decorated fighters in the Kazakh history, was in a seek-and-destroy mode from the opening bell. He was also very measured, not using his punches for no purpose, wasting no time and space at all. Ishida, 37, got caught a couple of times in the first but only asked for more and even landed several blows of his own.
In the second stanza, the Kazakh terror chose to wreak upon a havoc and immediately got to the Japanese veteran. He scored several times with a right hand, which forced Ishida to clinch and to run along the ropes for safety. Nevertheless, Ishida continued to fight back in style in the third. It was his swan song, and the end came soon. After punishing the Japanese for half a round, Golovkin suddenly fired off a right bomb. Ishida went down hard, with his head hitting the canvas outside the ring, and body lying squarely between the two lowermost ropes of the ring. Ishida was out before he hit the canvas, and he was assisted to sit down on the stool even a minute or tow after a chilling knockout of the Triple GGG.
Meeting Denis Grachev in the final of a huge SM/LH tourney will be Edwin "The Bomb" Rodriguez (23-0, 15 KOs), who overcame a tough challenge of previously undefeated Argentinean Ezequiel Oswaldo Maderna (19-1, 13 KOs) in one of the toughest fights of his career.
The Dominican import Rodriguez, 27, was ranked #3 by the WBC, WBA and IBF and #12 by the WBO before the fight. 2008 former Olympian for Argentina was no slouch too, having huge amateur experience and a nasty set of profound skills to go with.
Rodriguez was an agressor throughout a majority of the rounds but he didn't land cleanly in many of hard exchanges. Maderna, 26, wasn't very active but he was consistent with his blows. Rodriguez was opened for a left counter, and Maderna tagged the Dominican time and again, when Rodriguez got too reckless. However, it was Rodriguez, who pressed the action and forced the Argentinean to work hard.
The Bomb was very effective in the mid rounds. Adding to his cause was Maderna's growing fatigue, which resulted in his decreasing punch output. Still the pitch battle was close and it reached it epix in the eighth stanza, when Rodriguez, trying to land a clean punch, made a mark on the Argentinean's defensive cup - very much below the belt. Maderna went down in pain and was given five minutes for recovery. Rodriguez was warned strictly but saw no point deductions in this round.
The situation changed in the heated ninth stanza. Firstly, Rodriguez was deducted a point for hitting at the back of Maderna's head. Then the WBO #5 and IBF #13 Argentinean went down after the very same punch, but this time it was ruled a knockdown - to a major disappointment of Maderna. Rodriguez also finished the fight strongly to punctuate his win.
Judges Stanley Christodoulou and Leszek Jankowiak both had the fight 96-92 - for The Bomb, Jean-Louis Legland had it 95-92 - also for Rodriguez, while BoxingScene had it 97-91.
At 38 and coming back after a long period of inactivity, former two-division champion of the world Zsolt Erdei delivered one of his finest performances in a long time against a very determined and dangerous knockout artist only to hear the worst decision in his lengthy career. Erdei (33-1, 18 KOs) was dealt his first career loss by the Russian fighter Denis Grachev (13-1-1, 8 KOs) via a very controversial ten-round split decision. Scores were identical: 96-94 - for Grachev (twice - Terry O'Connor and Philippe Verbecke) and 94-96 (IBHOFer Stanley Christodoulou - for the Hungarian "Firebird" (once). BoxingScene had it also 96-94 - for Erdei.
Grachev started confidently, moving forward, trying to land a hard right hand. He didn't use his jab and was easily evaluated by Erdei, a much better boxer albeit less physically gifted. However, Erdei's ring rust prevented the Hungarian to time Grachev properly in the first. He mad some subtle re-adjustments in the second, and from that point of he was a better man of the two till the midpoint of the fight. Erdei was elusive but didn't run, he punched lightly but Grachev felt his punches quite well. The Firebird used his potent left jab to keep Grachev at bay, not forgetting to land stinging left and right hooks to the granite-chinned Russian. The latter did himself little favours by using almost no jabs whatsoever. He ate punches but connected with little in return.
After the midpoint, urged by his corner, Grachev began to fire off more and to land better punches against his slick opponent. The Russian was able to raise the tempo and to force Erdei to work more out of his comfortable zone and his own tempo. He went forward, dealing more and more punishment, but the Hungarian used every bit of his vast experience to weather all possible dangers and thunderstorms, produced by the Russian. Still, Grachev was a better man in rounds six through eight. With a fight up for grabs, Grachev, 30, had a very strong nine round but Erdei came with several major haymakers to finish strong. The Hungarian also ended the fight strongly, having a nice tenth round and finishing the fight with several very hard hooks to the temple of the Russian.
A couple of years ago Ricky Hatton, making one of his first steps as a promoter, placed a bet on a relatively unknown Belarussian bodypuncher Sergey Rabchenko. And the bet was right on point, which has been proven once again tonight, as Rabchenko improved his record to 23-0, with 17 KOs, retained his European light middleweight title and made it 2-0 in a virtual match-up between Italy and Belarus after annihilating veteran boxer Adriano Nicchi (20-4-2, 9 KOs) at 2:15 of the second round.
WBC #2, WBA #6, IBF #7 and WBO #14 Rabchenko, 27, needed a soft touch after his much harder-than-expected battle with the Frenchman Cedric Vitu in his last fight. He got one against Nicchi, an Italian national champion but with little wins over notable opposition. Rabchenko was as aggressive as usual and tried to place major left bombs to the liver section of Nicchi. He got some success but he found more with his left uppercut. The Italian was, however, competetive in the first and even connected with some jabs of his own. It wasn't enough to stop Rabchenko's assaults but it helped Nicchi to survive the opening stanza.
Rabchenko gradually became more and more aggressive during the second round. His left uppercut was too powerful and too precise for the Italian. In one of the moments the Belarussian landed no less than eight-to-ten hard left bombs in close quarters, hurting Nicchi badly and wobbling him along the ropes. Finally, while standing against the Italian in the center of the ring, Rabchenko connected with a looping single left hook over the Italian's guard and had him down immediately. The referee, Terry O'Connor immediately stopped the contest to announce Sergey's win.
Light welterweight power hitter Kirill Relikh (13-0, 11 KO) of Belarus looked very impressive in his western Europe debut against shot Italian veteran Paolo Gassani (16-4, 8 KOs). It took Relikh just 2 minutes and two seconds of the very first stanza to completely vaporize the fighter from Italy.
After the starting bell Relikh, 23, immediately went into a brawling mode and soon began to land mean, damaging blows to Gassani. Paolo tried to counter Relkih, and he countered him on his way in, but the Belarussian just didn't feel his punches at all. Finally, Relikh rocked Gassani badly with a couple of right hands, then connected with an explosive right counter, when Gassani made an attempt to retaliate. The counter iced Gassani, and he went down to the count after a left uppercut and a left hook by Relikh. A huge win for a young Belarussian.
With His Royalty Prince Albert of Monaco watching carefully from the ringside of Salle des Etoiles in Monte Carlo, IBF Youth cruiserweight champion Ilunga Makabu (13-1, 13 KOs) of Congo made his devastative European debut and stopped previously undefeated Hungarian Tamas Lodi (9-1-1, 7 KOs), 23, at 1:03 of the third round, in the TV-opener of a huge Monaco card.
Lodi, who had fought just a week ago, came in as a late replacement for the French veteran Jean Marc Monrose. Makabu, 24, fighting for the first time outside of his adopted homeland of South Africa, immediately put on a pressure to the Hungarian. The southpaw Congolese was especially effective with his left uppercut, while Lodi did his best to connect with hard looping right bombs. The first stanza was quite even, but from the first moments of round two Makabu began to deliver punishment to the Hungarian. He rocked him badly with a left uppercut midst into the second round and punched him at will till the bell. Lodi came in for round three, but soon found himself on the canvas after another punishing left uppercut by the Congolese brawler. He stood up but was being hit time and again, before a famed referee Daniel Van de Viele stepped in to call a halt.