Shavkatdzhon Rakhimov couldn’t have enjoyed a more dramatic arrival on the title stage.
The unbeaten Russian southpaw erased a massive deficit on the scorecards with an 8th round stoppage of Azinga Fuzile in their super featherweight title eliminator Sunday in East London, South Africa. Rakhimov twice floored Fuzile in the pivotal frame, the latter of the two forcing an immediate stoppage.
A mandatory title shot versus Tevin Farmer awaited the winner of Sunday’s final eliminator, an opportunity which Rakhimov was granted after Japan’s Kenichi Ogawa was removed from the mix. The entry meant hitting the road and fighting in the backyard of Fuzile (14-1, 8KOs), an unbeaten 23-year old who has spent his entire five-year pro career fighting at home in Eastern Cape.
Home cooking wasn’t required in his bout, as Fuzile cleanly and thoroughly outboxed Rakhimov over the first seven rounds, to where a decision victory was all but guaranteed as long as he could remain on his feet.
That became a problem in a big way, in round eight.
Trailing hopelessly on the scorecards, Rakhimov found the opening he’d sought all along. A left hand shot caught Fuzile flush on the chin, sending him to the canvas in a heap. That he made it to his feet and was able to continue is a testament to his fighting heart, even if ultimately rendered moot.
Rakhimov saw wounded prey in his path and unloaded a series of left hands on a cornered and defenseless Fuzile. There stands a very good argument that fight lingered on at least one punch too long, the final blow sending Fuzile sprawling into the ropes as the bout was mercifully halted.
“Tevin Farmer is next,” Rakhimov (15-0, 11KOs) told BoxingScene.com through translator Alexei Titov of RCC Boxing Promotions.
The 25-year old southpaw will have to wait out a voluntary defense for Farmer (30-4-1, 6KOs), who has entered talks for a clash with 2012 Olympian and former featherweight title challenger Joseph ‘JoJo’ Diaz. Assuming an agreement is reached, Farmer and Diaz will likely collide later this year. The winner will then be ordered to next face Rakhimov, who has now knocked out 10 of his last 11 opponents.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox