By Alexey Sukachev
DIVS,Ekaterinburg - Malcolm Klassen's honorable career might have hit its end in Shavkat Rakhimov's first defense of his IBO super featherweight title. Rakhimov (now 12-0, 9 KOs) stopped former two-time IBF 130lb champion at 1:31 of the eighth.
It started as catastrophic for the South African as it ended. Rakhimov, 23, was better in the opening round but specifically crisp during the second. He threw multiple combinations and finally pinned Klassen, 36, to the ropes, then landed several body punches, prompting Klassen to take a knee.
However, Klassen signalized he was thumbed to his right eye while he was down. Revitalized South African aggressively started the third but then was seemingly thumbed again and turned back onto his opponent. Referee intervened before Rakhimov went in for kill. No count has been issued.
Rakhimov began to slow down in the fourth, and Klassen has taken advantage, evening things up. He landed blows of his own, ducked the Tajik's punches and responded with counters of his own. Rounds five and six were even but Klassen looked like he was going to increase his tempo and to his pressure on Rakhimov.
But it didn't go that way.
IBF #13 Rakhimov found his second breathe instead and got back on track. In the seventh, he was doing a better job than his opponent. In the eighth he began to pound Klassen with combos again. The South African lasted no much longer. After eating another combo he got another knee, and this time it was it.
Klassen record is now 33-8-2, 17 KOs, and he lost his second straight fight in Russia. But for the first time in his career he got stopped. He went a long road, which included two brief spells (2006-2007 and in 2009 as the world champion).
It wasn't easy but Russian super bantamweight Alexander Krasheninnikov (5-0, 1 KO) got the better of Uzbek rookie Sardor Muzaffarov (1-1, 1 KO) with a split decision over six rounds. Two judges had it four rounds to four: 58-56 and 56-58, while the third had it differently and decisively: 60-55 - for the Russian.
Kazakh light welterweight Daulet Daukenov showed the best of his body punching technique in a four-round destruction of Russian Shamil Dautaev (3-3). Daukenov (now 4-0, 2 KOs) hasn't landed any monstrous punches. He has gradually broken Dautaev, sapping energy from his lean body and landing flush at his corpse. Dautaev looked worse with each fought round and was finally stopped - still standing but almost doubled up - at 2:18 of the fourth.
A local intra-team encounter between two members of the RCC Boxing Promotions crowned a big night of boxing at the DIVS Arena in Ekaterinburg, Russia. Previously undefeated Tajik Mukhammadkhuja Yakubov (11-0, 7 KOs) came out as a winner with his record intact following a spirited unanimous decision over fellow super featherweight Mark "Canelo" Urvanov (12-2, 6 KOs). Scores were: 117-110, 117-110 and 116-111 - for Yakubov.
Yakubov, 22, was one who was boxing - oppositely to Urvanov, who employed a straightforward aggressive approach. But Yakubov was elusive as he was tough. He moved well, boxing circles around his flat-footed but stiff opponent. Urvanov was an underdog coming in, his latest two fight being split wins, while Yakubov ended 2017 impressively, going 5-0, 4 KOs, overall. The 21-year old from Pervouralsk did what he could, stalking Yakubov but was mostly unsuccessful - especially in the starting rounds.
Yakubov possesses a punch of his own. And he showed one by dropping off-balanced Urvanov in the second round. As rounds went by the Tajik started to show signs of fatigue, the fight becoming a war of attrition. Urvanov had his chances in later rounds but was unable to capitalize on the flaws of his opponent. Yakubov captured a vacant IBF Baltic and WBA Continental super featherweight titles. He is expected to enter the ranks of the major sanctioning bodies.