By Alexey Sukachev

Russia - The super middleweight elite has welcome a new player tonight in WBA #15 Vladimir Shishkin, who scored a spectacular knockout of world-rated French veteran Nadjib "The Iron Djib" Mohammedi at 1:49 of the tenth round to retain his WBA Continental belt for the first time.

Mohammedi, 33, was coming into this fight as an uncrowned hero and a fan favorite - thanks to him being robbed this July in one of the most shameful decisions recently, when he was grossly misjudged also in Russia, against former "Super" WBA super middleweight champion Fedor Chudinov, who is still rated #1 by the WBA. Shishkin, meanwhile, has scored a solid kayo win on the same undercard of the Olexander Usyk vs. Murat Gassiev showdown. He also stopped solid Belarussian veteran Sergey Khomitskiy in May.

Shishkin, higher and visibly bigger than the Frenchman, also proved to have solid technical skills. Using his reach advantage he outjabbed Mokhammedi in the first two rounds, landing some big right hands in the process. Nadjib evened things up in round three, troubling Shishkin, 27, with his own jab and good lateral movement. In the fourth round, Mohammedi continued to have mild success but also landed a good left hand that marked  Shishkin's right eye.

In the fifth, both boxers collided heavily early on with an accidental headbutt producing a nasty cut near the temple of the Russian. Shishkin pressed forward nevertheless. At one point he stunned his foe with a solid right hand, opening a deep cut over Mohammedi's bridge of the nose. Rounds six, seven and eight were mostly in Shishkin's favour, as Mohammedi was slowly spending his energy, while the Russian caught hs second wind and used it against the Frenchman.

Mohammedi used holding excessively but it didn't help him in the ninth, when Shishkin has finally got at him with a series of punches, putting the Frenchman down. However, the Russian also punched Mohammedi, while he was down, which cost him a point, deducted by referee Ingo Barrabas.

The end was nearing, and it finally was reached in the tenth. Shishkin used several series of punches to tag Mohammedi again, then dropped him down hard. Mohammedi was up soon but clearly shaken, as Shishkin continued his stalking, Soon, the Frenchman went down again - this time without a punch - yet Ingo Barrabas issued another count. Soon thereafter, the Russian landed a smashing right hand, putting Mohammedi down and out without a count.

Shihskin improves his record to 8-0, 5 KOs, and Mohammedi suffers his second consecutive loss and down to 40-7, 23 KOs.

Nothing prepared previously undefeated Venezuelan kayo artist Juan Rodriguez (15-1, 14 KOs) for his first career loss, as a combined record of his previous opponents was pitiful: 5-48-1. So it was fully understandable that he dropped a ten-round unanimous decision to high-ranked light middleweight Magomed "The Black Lion" Kurbanov (16-0, 11 KOs). He was also surprisingly tough, withstanding some hard punishing pressure from The Black Lion to last till the final bell.

Muscular Rodriguez was rugged but certainly no match for the Russian, who used his superior technique to avoid unnecessary punishment and to deal some of his own kind. Rodriguez's wild swings mostly missed, which made him an easy target for IBF #4, WBA #6 and WBC #13 Kurbanov.

Kurbanov's stalking technique proved specifically successful in later rounds, when Rodriguez, fatigued and beaten, was dropped twice in round nine and once in round ten, also suffering from some extracurricular and illegal blows of Kurbanov to his back, which in turn were provoked by the Venezuelan himself. Final scores were: 100-87, 99-88, and 99-88 - for Kurbanov.