By Jake Donovan
Denis Lebedev successfully turned back the challenge of Youri Kalenga, retaining his cruiserweight belt with a 12-round decision Friday evening in Moscow, Russia.
Scores were 116-110, 116-111 and 115-112. Both fighters were dropped, with Lebedev down towards the end of round four, and Kalenga decked in round seven. The latter knockdown seemed to permanently change the direction of the fight, as Lebedev never relinquished his lead, even if the 116-110 tally was a bit too wide.
The bout began slow, and for the most part served as a tactical affair. Lebedev seemed to jump out to an early lead, as Kalenga struggled to find his rhythm, and was unable to really give the defending titlist much reason to not bully his way inside.
That momentarily changed in round four, when a left hand knocked Lebedev off balance. The momentum of the blow forced the local favorite to stumble backwards and eventually to the canvas.
(Writer's note: First viewing of the fight suggested Lebedev tripped over Kalenga's foot; video replay indicates that it was a clean knockdown, for which we regret the error - JD)
Lebedev rose to his feet, but seemed reluctant to engage in the middle rounds. Kalenga put in his best work of the night in round six, taking the lead on all three scorecards as the bout reached the halfway point.
The good fortunes didn’t last very long for the well-traveled Congolese boxer, who calls France home these days. Lebedev connected with a shot to the chin to drop Kalenga in round seven, reclaiming control of the fight and outboxing the challenger of over the course of the back six.
The surprisingly close scorecards suggested that Kalenga literally stood a fighting chance had he managed to turn the corner at any point in the second half of the contest. Instead, his five-fight win streak comes to a close as he falls to 21-2 (14KOs).
Meanwhile, Lebedev picks up his second straight win as he advances to 27-2 (20KOs). The Russian banger previously stopped Pawel Kolodziej in two rounds last September. There stands a good argument that he could be undefeated, as his two losses are both covered in taint.
Lebedev came up just short in a hotly-disputed split decision loss to Marco Huck in Dec. ’10. The bout was his first attempt at a title, with many believing he deserved the nod.
A far more definitive conclusion appeared to have come from his 11th round knockout loss to Guillermo Jones. Their May ’13 war was one for the ages, but smeared in controversy when Jones tested positive for a banned substance in the aftermath. A similar occurrence took place in their planned rematch, this time during pre-fight testing, leading to the cancellation of their scheduled sequel last May.
Eduard Troyanovsky had to work hard to preserve his unbeaten record but the rising junior welterweight came through with a well-earned 8th round knockout of a determined Aik Shakhnazaryan.
The bout made for a competitive chief support, with both fighters having their say at various points throughout the scheduled 12-round affair. Troyanovsky's power proved to be the difference, twice hurting Shakhnazaryan with uppercuts before putting him away for good with a right hand straight through the uprights.
The official time of the knockout came at 0:57 of round eight.
Troyanovsky improves—in every sense of the word—to 21-0 (18KOs). The 34-year old has now scored knockout wins in his past 11 starts.
As valiant as he was in defeat, Shakhnazaryan has now suffered defeats in back-to-back starts. His record falls to 15-2 (6KOs).
If fans didn't yet take Dmitry Kudryashov seriously following his knockout win over Juan Carlos Gomez last November, surely attention will be paid following his latest result. The unbeaten slugger from Russia maintained his perfect knockout-to-win ratio, needing just 50 seconds to annhilate Francisco Palacios in their scheduled 10-round cruiserweight clash.
Kudryashov (17-0, 17KOs) wasted no time laying into the visiting Palacios, the 37-year old Boricua who had never previously been dropped or stopped through 11 years and 34 fights as a pro. That changed in a hurry when Kudryashov connected with a left hook to the body, followed by a left hook upstairs.
The latter shot put Palacios (23-3, 14KOs) down and out, with the official time of the knockout coming at 0:52 of round one. Kudryashov has now scored 1st round knockouts in back to back fights and has yet to be extended beyond the 7th round through 17 pro fights.
Rakhim Chakhkiev has now won six straight following a vicious 4th round knockout over Valery Brudov in their cruiserweight scrap.
The bout was never remotely competitive, as Chakhkiev floored the 38-year old Brudov in round three before putting him down and out for good in round four. Brudov (42-6, 28KOs) was felled by a left hand in round three and cut high on the forehead in round four before being leveled by Chakhkiev.
No count was issued, as Brudov remained down for several minutes while receiving immediate medical attention before eventually making his way to his feet.
Chakhkiev (22-1, 17KOs) has scored knockouts in five of his past six wins since his lone loss, when he was stopped by then-cruiserweight titlist Krzysztof Wlodarczyk nearly two years ago.
Johan Duhaupas heads back to France with the biggest win of his career, pulling off a considerable upset in scoring a 10-round decision over Manuel Charr. Scores were 95-95 even and matching scores of 98-93 in favor of Duhaupas (32-2, 20KOs), who was coming off of a points loss to unbeaten Erkan Teper less than a month ago.
Charr (27-3, 16KOs) has now dropped two of his last three starts. The fringe heavyweight contender was on the wrong end of a highlight reel knockout at the hands of Alexander Povetkin last May. His lone other loss serves as the answer to the trivia question of the last fighter to face Vitali Klitschko in the ring, suffering a cut-induced 4th round stoppage in the final bout of the terrific career of the heavyweight-titlist-turned-activist/politician.
Opening the show, rookie light heavyweight Dmitry Bivol picked up his second win in as many fights, stopping Konstantin Piternov (18-7, 9KOs) inside of three rounds.
Five months after going deep into the 6th and final round before stopping 35-fight veteran Jorge Rodriguez in his pro debut, Bivol had a somewhat easier time in Friday's affair. Piternov was down in round three and unable to continue, with the fight stopped at 1:12 of round three.
Bivol (2-0, 2KOs) is managed by Vadim Kornilov, the driving force behind several of the top fighters from the Eastern Bloc these days. Included among Kornilov's stable along with Bivol are: former titlist Ruslan Provodnikov; unbeaten junior welterweight Viktor Postol; and unbeaten light heavyweight and 2012 Olympic Gold medalist Egor Mekhontsev.
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox