By Alexey Sukachev
Russia - A year and four months ago, young gun Mikhail Alekseev faced fellow undefeated Filipino Romero Duno and gave him both a beating and boxing lesson, which resulted in a one-sided unanimous decision in favour of the Russian. The Filipino went his own way, which saw him ultimately scoring five consecutive stoppages, one of them versus unbeaten Christian Gonzalez. On September 23, Duno faces Juan Pablo Sanchez in the undercard of the HBO-televised showdown between Luke Campbell and Jorge Linares.
What about Alekseev? He fought just twice after that win and never got the exposure he felt he had earned. Tonight Alekseev, 22, made a very solid step up to his dream of fighting in front of a fully-crowded world-known arena by edging former two-time IBF super feetherweight champion Malcolm Klassen in a controversial but exciting fight.
Klassen upset Guyanese Gary St. Claire in November 2006, when Alekseev was 11-year old. He lost it in his first defense to Mzonke Fana but then re-captured the red belt two years later in a stoppage win over Cassius Baloyi (ironically, the very fighter Gary St. Claire had defeated to get his title). Klassen lost the title in his initial defense again - this time to Robert "The Ghost" Guerrero - in August 2009. Klassen is 9-1, 3 KOs, after that with the only loss, being a highly questionable (despite the scores) defeat to Will Tomlinson. His streak included wins over former champions Cassius Baloyi (again) and Paulus Moses.
Alekseev, 22, started frenetically as he often does. But the pattern was set not by his energy and zeal but by his inability to conclude his desire into the rules of boxing. Alekseev was hitting Klassen, 36, very low on several occasions and also punched after the break. Unfortunately, local referee Semen Stakheev was compliant, allowing the Russian to violate the rules of the game. He did warn the Russian once, then twice, then thrice, then... Alekseev was never deducted a point (and he should have been penalized for at least two) for his actions. Klassen wasn't your soul angel as well. He spit out his mouthguard several times, but the difference was it cost him a point, deducted in round nine.
The fight itself was energetic and fought in spurts. Klassen was regularly more active in the first halves of rounds, while Alekseev did better job during the second halves with the last thirty seconds being for grabs in majority of the rounds. The South African was successful in his tricky defense, using shoulder rolls and upper body movement but being a stationary target for Alekseev's body blows. Thanks to the latter those weren't abundant.
When Klassen fought back, he usually did it in combos. Those became specifically well-placed over the last three rounds. Klassen finally did work on Alekseev's left eye, which was firstly cut over and then started to swell. By the end of the fight, Alekseev couldn't see out of his eye as it was swollen shut. Both boxers gave their all in the tenth round.
Finally, two judges awarded it to Alekseev with identical scores: 95-94, while the third had it 96-93 - for the Russian, who improved his record to 11-0, 4 KOs. Klassen drops down to 33-7-2, 17 KOs. BoxingScene had it 95-94 - also for Alekseev but it could have easily been a draw or 94-93 - for the South African, had the referee done a better job.