By Jake Donovan
Cesar Cuenca and Eduard Troyanovsky are set to collide in a battle of unbeaten super lightweight boxers. Both fighters made weight for their title fight Wednesday evening in Kazan, Russia.
Cuenca (47-0-0-2NC*, 2KOs) weighed in at 139.2 lbs. for the first defense of the vacant super lightweight crown he won in a 12-round decision over Ik Yang on the road this past July in China.
The career-best win marked his first fight outside of his native Argentina. He hits the road for the second straight time, once again facing an unbeaten local favorite.
Troyanovsky weighed 139.3 lbs. for his first title fight. The 35-year old contender comes in riding a 12-fight knockout streak, including an impressive 8th round stoppage of Aik Shakhnazaryan in April, followed by a 3rd round knockout of Ronald Pontillas in a stay busy bout this past June.
The title fight will air live on TyC Sports in Argentina and the United States. The card as a whole will be available worldwide via streaming Pay-Per-View, at a suggested retail price of $9.95.
Also featured on the card is a heavyweight bout that should determine the next mandatory challenger for unbeaten heavyweight titlist Deontay Wilder. Former champ Alexander Povetkin collides with Mariusz Wach in a 12-round heavyweight clash.
Povetkin (29-1, 21KOs) tipped the scales at 227.75 lbs., down from recent knockout wins over Mike Perez (KO1 in May, weight 232.25 lbs.) and Carlos Takam (KO10 last October, weight 229.75 lbs.). He's two pounds heavier than was the case in the lone loss of his career, a 12-round decision at the hands of World heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko.
Three straight wins have followed, with the aforementioned wins preceded by a 7th round stoppage of Manuel Charr last May.
Wach tipped the scales at 255.8 lbs., slightly down from his last fight - a 6th round knockout of Konstantin Airich in June, where Wach weighed 260.25 lbs.
The battling heavyweights share a common bond in Klitschko being responsible for their only career defeat. Wach dropped a 12-round decision to the defending champ in their Nov. '12 title fight, less than a year before Povetkin fell short in his title bid.
That's where the similarities end.
Wach - a Polish heavyweight now based out of North Bergen, New Jersey - enjoys a massive 5
" height advantage, though the skill advantage lands in favor of his opponent.
Still, the visiting 35-year old comes in having won four straight in pursuit of a second career title fight.
Povetkin is already due a title shot at Wilder, though opted for a stay busy fight as negotiations drag out with the unbeaten American. In Wach, he at least gets to gauge his punches against a heavyweight who measures up to Wilder's height and reach.
Among the intriguing undercard is a pairing of cruiserweights who endured setbacks at the hands of fighters who had to cheat 'em in order to beat 'em.
Denis Lebedev (27-2, 20KOs) defends his cruiserweight title versus unbeaten Lateef Kayode - a Nigerian bruiser who now lives and trains in Hollywood, California.
Both fighters comfortably made weight, coming in under the 200 lbs. limit. Lebedev tipped the scales at 199 lbs., while Kayode (21-0, 16KOs) came in at 199.5 lbs.
Lebedev is in search of his third straight win, even though the streak should extended further back. The Russian knockout artist suffered an 11th round stoppage in a brutal May '13 slugfest with Guillermo Jones, who later was popped for a banned substance.
Beacuse his handlers haven't properly petitioned records keeper Fight Fax and the local commission to have the result changed to a No-Contest, the verdict remains a loss. Lebedev's chance to avenge was thwarted when Jones produced a positive test sample, killing plans for a rematch on fight night as both boxers were in the venue and ready to fight.
The bizarre scenario contributed to a 16-month break between fights for Lebedev before returning to the ring with a 2nd round knockout of previously unbeaten Pawel Kolodziej last September. His most recent affair proved far more challenging, edging Youri Kalenga over 12 rounds in April.
Kayode has yet to produce a career-defining win, although it can be reasonably argued that his two most significant opponents to date didn't give him a chance at a fair fight.
A 12-round draw with Antonio Tarver in June '12 wouldn't have affected Kayode's stance as an unbeaten record regardless of the aftermath. Still, the result was scrubbed after Tarver tested positive for Drostanolone, with the outcome defaulted to a No-Contest.
The same came of his knockout loss to heavyweight contender Luis Ortiz last September. Kayode was caught cold in the opening round, dropped and stopped for what would have been the first loss of his career. Instead, Ortiz was popped for Nandrolone, which he and his team attributed to ingesting contaminated meat .
Just as Erik Morales failed to sell the New York State Athletic Commission on such claims surrounding his eventual 4th round knockout loss to Danny Garcia, the Nevada State Athletic Commission wasn't buying Ortiz' excuses, either. The Cuban heavyweight was hit with a fine and suspension.
Sadly, it's done little for Kayode's career other than restoring his unbeaten record. The 32-year old has fought just once since then, a decision win over Nick Kisner this past May in Memphis, Tenn.
*CLARIFICATION ON CUENCA'S OFFICIAL RECORD
Cuenca's record is listed as 48-0-0-2NC (2KOs) on BoxRec.com, an online database but by no means an official source for confirmed bouts.
Fight Fax, Inc. - the official records keeper as recognized by sanctioning bodies and TV networks - lists Cuenca's record as 47-0-0-2NC, derecognizing a win on 5/28/2004.
According to Fight Fax, the aforementioned fight was an unsanctioned exhibition match due to the usage of oversized gloves, the lack of a supervised weigh-in and the fact that the opponent's identity was never properly confirmed.
For those who feel the need to obsess over Rocky Marciano retiring at 49-0 and falsely comparing his heavyweight accomplishment to that of fighters in any other weight class, please note that a win on Wednesday will still leave Cuenca one victory shy.
Jake Donovan is the managing editor of BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox