On the heels of winning the biggest fight of his career to date, Shavkat Rakhimov and his team are prepared for the long haul for another battle beyond the ropes.
The unbeaten 130-pound contender from Russia emerged as the mandatory challenger to reigning titlist Tevin Farmer following a come-from-behind 8th round knockout Azinga Fuzile (14-1, 8KOs) in their Sept. 29 title eliminator on the road in East London, South Africa. Shortly after the bout—and as previously reported by BoxingScene.com—Fuzile’s team took immediate measures to protest the contest, on the basis of video evidence which showed Rakhimov’s assistant trainer administering what appears to be smelling salts or a similar product underneath Rakhimov’s nostrils.
Rakhimov (15-0, 12KOs)—who was trailing on the scorecards—rallied in round eight, twice dropping and eventually stopping the local favorite and previously unbeaten contender. However, Fuzile’s team filed a protest with presiding commission Boxing South Africa (BSA) and the International Boxing Federation (IBF), whom claims Farmer as its champion and for which a title shot was at stake. The basis for the protest stems from rule 7 of the BSA handbook:
No stimulant (including, but not limited to smelling salts or ammonia) may be given to a boxer other than water sprinkled on the body or used as a mouth wash or drink.
A sweep of the visiting boxer’s locker room after the fight discovered bottles of what event handlers have claimed to be Ringer Acetate Solution (Fresenius), Cytoflavin and Phosphocreatine, the latter two which are on the banned substance list in accordance with World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) code.
To that, Rakhimov’s team offers an explanation along with its own concerns stemming from the event.
“There were no inspectors in the corners during the fight, and there must be,” German Titov, Rakhimov’s career long promoter told BoxingScene.com. “These are elementary requirements that were not met. We did not see what they were doing, but now they are trying to accuse us of using the permitted adrenaline to stop the bleeding.
“The question is, maybe there were (no inspectors), because it was convenient for the Fuzile team?”
Also of concern was what took place—or specifically, what didn’t take place—post-fight.
“After the fight ended, we were in the locker room and were waiting for a doping test,” Titov insists. “This is a big fight, and the work of the anti-doping agency in such a fight is mandatory. We asked the tournament promoter several times to clarify where the doping officers were, and each time we received an answer that they would be suitable. An hour and a half later, we asked the president of the IBF (Daryl Peoples), who said that there would be no control since the organizers did not order an inspection.”
“In addition, this is not the only gross violation on the part of the show organizers. Not only were doping officers absent from the (event), but also inspectors who control the work of cutmen during the fight.”
The matter is now in the hands of the local commission and the sanctioning body. Only the presiding commission can officially overturn an event, whereas the sanctioning body has the discretion to either honor the in-ring result—which would leave Rakhimov as the mandatory challenger—or remove him from the slot in the event of confirmed wrongdoing.
Either way, Farmer (30-4-1, 6KOs) is permitted a voluntary defense after having faced and defeated mandatory challengers in back-to-back bouts this year. The Philadelphia-bred southpaw scored decision wins over Jono Carroll and Guillaume Frenois in March and July, respectively, and is currently in talks to next defend versus 2012 U.S. Olympian Joseph ‘JoJo’ Diaz.
With the controversy place—along with the dramatic knockout finish on its own—plenty of time exists for Rakhimov and Fuzlile to run it back. Such matters often result in a rematch being ordered, although a few more items require resolution before even entertaining such a thought.
“The first sign of (lack of) professionalism appeared at the stage of signing the contract, and on the weigh-in day, when fees are paid’ the promoter transferred only half of (the fight purse),” claims Titov. “When the discussion of all the bout conditions began, the Fuzile team offered very good conditions, and our team decided to go outside Russia. It's a double honor to win on the road.
“But as soon as we arrived, it became clear that they do not have enough experience in organizing such events. It is worth noting that Shavkat Rakhimov still has not received the full fee for the fight, although more than a week has already passed.”
Representatives from Rumble Africa Promotions declined comment on the aforementioned claims, deferring to the ongoing investigation and what comes of the process.
In the meantime, Rakhimov plans to conduct business as usual and in his best effort to clear his name amidst current accusations.
“Shavkat is a clear boxer, he is in the WBC rating and regularly undergoes unannounced checks,” notes Titov. “He is the IBO champion and has undergone doping control after the last four fights. Of course, he was ready to do it this time, but from the South African side all the rules were severely violated. We have already applied to the IBF to sort out the situation.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox