By Alexey Sukachev
Russia - WBO #1 rated light middleweight Magomed "The Black Lion" Kurbanov (13-0, 10 KOs) scored another stoppage win but it wasn't easy this time, as Japanese veteran Akinori Watanabe gave his all in a valiant effort before losing on a rindgside physician's advice, with his left eye shut.
Kurbanov (also rated #6 by the WBA and #9 by the IBF) started aggressively but Watanabe (also known as Ushiwakemaru Akibei), 32, wasn't going anywhere despite some hard punches landed by the Russian. Watanabe landed some big shots in close quarters and, despite taking more, didn't look lost.
Round three turned into a disaster for the Japanese, who ate some punishing leather. Late into the round, Kurbanov pinned Watanabe to the ropes and landed several very damaging blows. As the referee broke the fighters after the bell, Watanabe wobbled to the center of the ring before finally getting to his corner on unsteady legs. It looked like he was finished but Kurbanov gave him to much tome for recover in the fourth.
In the fifth Watanabe continued to look quite strong but in the sixth and in the seventh Kurbanov's superiority was clearly seen, while Watanabe was struggling. The end came at 1:17 of the eighth round, when Vladyslav Kurshev (the lead of RBF's medical department) to a solid displeasure of Watanabe.
Kurbanov, 22, retained his WBO International belt for the second time. Watanabe drops back to 35-7, 30 KOs.
Highly-ranked super featherweight Evgueny "Happy Gilmore" Chuprakov didn't look particularly happy immediately after the final bell of his rendezvous with tough Argentinean import Pablo Manuel Ojeda. The case was close indeed, and it has been confirmed by the judges, who saw it as a narrow win for the Russian: 96-95 (Bence Kovacs), 97-93 (Matteo Montella) and 97-93 (Dave Parris).
WBO #2 Chuprakov (also ranked #13 by the IBF) made an ill-wise decision to rumble with Ojeda, who proved to be a crude, durable banger with some pop in his gloves. Thus the opening rounds were close with a slight advantage of the Argentinean. Ojeda landed some well-placed counters to catch Chuprakov's attention in the second. In round three, Chuprakov started to even things up but Ojeda was till dangerous.
The midst of the bout was more or less in the Russian's favour but the latest part of the fight was still even, with neither fighter landing one crucial blow to make a significant difference. BoxingScene had it 96-94 - also for Chuprakov, who is now 19-0, 10 KOs. Ojeda saw his record going down to 14-4, 10 KOs. Chuprakov retained his WBO Intercontinental title for the second time.
Yuri Kashinskiy, another Russian cruiserweight hopeful with noteworthy power, made another sound statement, knocking out Al "The Haitian Temptation" Sands at 1:17 of the second round. WBO #7, WBA #9 and IBF #11 ranked cruiserweight retained his WBO Oriental cruiserweight title in process.
Sands has never really got into the fight, starting to take pumishment right from the opening bell. Kashinskiy's jab was potent, while Sands was unable to find his distance. Late into the first round, Kashinskiy landed a heavy right hand, wobbling Sands, then put him down with several big shots. In the second, demolition continued but now Sands had zero time for recovery. Kashinskiy landed a major left hook to the jaw of Sands, putting him down. Sands got up but was too dazed to let it go, losing on the second-round TKO, his record slipping to 20-3, 18 KOs. Kashinskiy improves his ledger to 15-0, 14 KOs.
Lightweight Zaur Abdullaev (7-0, 5 KOs) capped off his debut year with a bang, stopping Roberto Gonzalez of Philippines in the seventh round. Abdullaev, who started his pro career in March, dominated his opponent and beated him the the punch. Gonzalez took a tremendous amount of punishment, before succumbing to Abdullaev's power at 2:51 of the seventh round after successive right hands of the Russian fighter. The Filipino loses his second straight to lower his record to 27-4, 17 KOs.
40-year old Filipino veteran Jaime Barcelona has lost 62 times during his career, which started two years after Mukhammadkhuja Yakubov had been born, but he has never been stopped that hard. Yakubov got his job done with a huge let hand to the body as Barcelon went down in pain 1:34 to the first round.
Yakubov, 22, capped off a good year, which saw him comiling 5-0, 4 KOs, record, and he is 10-0, 7 KOs, after this victory. Barcelona from the city of Bukidnon, a veteran of the veterans, goes down to 40-62-1, 10 KOs. He has never been stopped earlier the fifth round, and the last time he hadn't gone the distance, happened in 2009.
Pavel Malikov (13-0, 5 KOs) continued his upward roll with his second consecutive split decision, this time over undefeated upset-minded Columbian Deiner Berrio (20-1-1, 10 KOs) to acquire a vacant WBO interim Intercontinental lightweight title.
IBF #8 and WBA #13 Malikov was coming off a hard-fought victory over Japanese Daiki Kaneko. Berrio, meanwhile, was fighting for the second time in Russia after upsetting well-known gatekeeper Rustam Nugaev in May. This fight was once again very tight with neither fighter getting a clear upper-hand. Berrio was mostly aggressive but particularly ineffective in the first four rounds with his wide swings, which were unable to land cleanly onto Malikov's jaw. However, he threw many more punches than Malikov, who remained resilient under fire. Malikov came back with some shots of his own in the third but Berrio was quite sound defensively.
The pattern changed considerably in the fifth, as Berrio decided to work as a counterpuncher and had some mild success in doing so. However, in the sixth, Malikov landed a picturesque right bomb, which wobbled the Colombian badly, though he was able to retain his composure under heavy fire. The seventh and the eighth were quite even, and in the ninth the guest fighter scored his biggest success, when Malikov was briefly dropped on a major right hand. It wasn't an overwhelmingly hard shot, more of a stumble, but referee Semen Stakheev started his count despite this fact.
Both combatants fought it to the end in the tenth round and even after a bit. Scores were: 96-93, 95-94 - for Malikov, and 93-96 - for Berrio.
In an upset Friday, cruiserweight/heavyweight journeyman Yuri Bykhovtsev of Belarus added another victim to his hit list.
Bykhovtsev spoiled the record of Russian heavyweight Gasan Gimbatov (3-1, 2 KOs) after a timid six-rounder on the Alexander Povetkin-Christian Hammer undercard in Ekaterinburg, Russia.
Gimbatov looked sluggish and unwilling to deliver damage to his opponent, who was sharp and looked much better than his negative record suggests. Scores were 58-56 and 58-56 for Bykhovtsev (10-14-3, 5 KOs), and 58-56 for Gimbatov. Bykhovtsev, who was stopped just once in his career, ended a winless streak (0-7-1).
Also Friday, wowingly overweight Georgian Tornike Puritchamiashvili came at a career-high 314 pounds, but was able to last the six-round distance with powerful Russian Evgueny Romanov. The winner controlled every minute of every round and won 60-54 on all three scorecards.
Romanov is now 7-0 (4 KOs), while his Georgian foe fell to 10-7 (6 KOs).
Romanov has a distinctive win, achieved during an amateur period of his career. He knocked out Deontay Wilder, now an undefeated knockout artist and the WBC heavyweight champion of the world, early in 2008.
Heavyweights Zamig Atakishiyev, an Azerbaijan native and resident of Turkey, and Ukrainian German Skobenko fought to a six-round draw to open up Friday’s card. Both combatants retained their undefeated records.
Atakishiyev is now 4-0-1 (2 KOs). Skobenko has exactly one more draw as a difference: 4-0-2 (1 KO).