By Alexey Sukachev
Arguably the most active elite cruiserweight (and maybe one of the most active elite fighters in all weight classes) Maxim Vlasov ended another busy year with a bang, by destroying fading and aging Namibian Vikapita Meroro in the very first round.
It was a crown fight for the evening of boxing, promoted by the Patriot promotional company at the legendary Krilya Sovetov Arena in Moscow, Russia, but it didn't live up to the expectations.
After several fruitless efforts to show anything, the 32-year old Namibian Meroro ate a right/left combo by Vlasov and chose to go down in what was meant to be in great pain but somehow didn't look that way. Meroro produced several attempts to get into the upright position following a couple of visibly light shots and failed. Time of stoppage was 1:43.
WBC/WBA/WBO #3 and WBA #6 ranked cruiserweight Vlasov, 31, was 4-0, 4 KOs, in 2017 (including one over Denton Daley) and 5-0, 4 KOs (including stoppages of Rakhim Chakhkiev and Ismayl Sillakh) in 2016.
Vlasov (now 41-2, 24 KOs) was expected to be a part of WBSS Super Eight but didn't get in. He will undoubtedly be a great test for any loser of any quarterfinal or semifinal of the WBSS, and maybe for the finalists. Meanwhile, Meroro got stopped for the third time in a row, dropping to 28-7, 14 KOs.
In a pitch battle between Russian Magomed Madiev (10-0, 4 KOs) and Belarus Dmitry Atrokhov (15-3, 6 KOs), the unbeaten boxer came as the winner but not without suffering some damage of his own. Both fighters showcased their best qualities but Madiev was the one to get the edge with his character and will against a skillful (and resourceful) opponent. At the end, WBA #14 Madiev prevailed with a unanimous decision: 98-93, 98-93, and 97-94. Atrokhov suffered his third straight close decision loss.
Russian light heavyweight Umar Salamov (20-1, 15 KOs) returned in the ring after a loss to Damien Hooper this summer with an easy blowout of Ukrainian no-hoper Artem Red'ko (21-10-3, 12 KOs). Salamov decked Red'ko, who is just 1-8 as of late, with a crushing right hand in round one, beat him to the punch in the second and continued pummeling in the third until referee Yuri Koptsev waved it off the same moment the Ukrainian took a knee in the corner after receiving more unnecessary, merciless punishment. Time of stoppage was 2:53 of the third.
Undefeated light heavyweight Vladimir Shishkin (5-0, 2 KOs) got the better of experienced yet fading veteran journeyman Konstantin Piternov (21-15, 10 KOs) over six rounds. It was a good technical performance by a young fighter but Piternov stood firm and gave his foe some fits. Shishkin won a unanimous decision.
Cruiserweight Basir Abakarov (3-0, 3 KOs) didn't waste any time, dropping badly overmatched and pudge Alexander Tikhonov (0-3) on his knees with a huge right hook / left hand combo at 2:21 of the very first round.
Former famed Russian amateur heavyweight Sergey Kalchugin (1-0) didn't impress in his pro debut, cruising to an easy but too methodical unanimous decision over Ukrainian traveller Dmytro Zayats in a fight, he was expected to end early. Zayats is now 0-3.
Rising Abkhaz super middleweight Batal Zurab Chezhiya improved his resume to 5-0, 1 KO, with a hard-fought unanimous decision over tough but limited journeyman Daniel Negat of Cameroon in a six-rounder. Negat (1-11) started his pro career in 2012 in Cameroon, then took off three and a half years before relocating himself to Russia. He was stopped just once in his eleven losses.
Talented amateur Vladislav Savostyanov (1-0, 1 KO), 20, debuted with a one-sided destruction of 19-year old Ukrainian Artur Glotov (0-2). Savostyanov dropped Glotov with a huge left blow to the liver followed by a soild left hand to the head. Glotov was unable to continue after exactly 100 seconds from the opening bell.
Former amateur star Zhan Kosobutskiy of Kazakhstan scored his third consecutive kayo win in his debut year as a pro. 29-year old heavyweight blitzed Ukrainian Olexander Nesterenko in just 122 seconds. Kosobutskiy (3-0, 3 KOs) dropped Nesterenko down with a combo early on, and finished him later in the round with a painful shot to the solar plexus. Nesterenko goes down to 9-9, 4 KOs. he has lost his last eight by the way of knockout.