Just moments ago in East London, South Africa we witness a sensational bout as Tajik born Russian based Shavkatdzhon Rakhimov (15-0, 12) [Шавкатджон Рахимов] faced off with Azinga Fuzile (14-1, 8) in an IBF Super Featherweight title eliminator.
The bout saw two unbeaten fighters facing off in a mouth watering match up that looked fantastic on paper and proved to be just as good in the ring.
From the opening round the styles of the two men gelled well from an entertainment perspective. Fuzile took to the ropes, counter punching, slipping, sliding and using his speed whilst Rakhimov brought the pressure, taking the fight to Fuzile, with some very mixed success.
The first round was close, but it felt like Fuzile's cleaner, more eye catching punching, and intelligent defense was more impressive that Rakhimov's intense, though flawed, pressure. The second round saw tempers flare as Fuzile landed one low on Rakhimov, who seemed to be wanting revenge when the fight restarted and he was warned for a pretty flagrant headbutt later the same round. It was in round 2 that Fuzile's body shots really became a highlight of his offensive work.
Round 3 was a less dirty round, but was one where the offense of Rakhimov left Fuzile with a bloodied nose. That was a positive for Rakhimov, who seemed to have the worst of the round overall. He was being outboxed and out sped by Fuzile, despite having some moments of his own. Rakhimov did however have more sustained success in round 4, until being badly hurt from a body shot that forced him to back track and try to recover. It was the first time either man had been hurt and more importantly it gave Fuzile a clear area to target, which he did through round 5, hammering the body of Rakhimov at every opportunity.
Rakhimov continued to press in round 6 but had even less success than he had earlier, with Fuzile simply being too good, and leaving Rakhimov with blood from his nose. It seemed like both were feeling the pace, which was intense, but it also looked like Fuzile was in charge, he was landing huge body shots, dictating the pace and looked like the fighter with more life in his legs. That was even clearer in round 7 as the pace dropped off a bit, allowing Fuzile more space and time to hunt the body of the visiting fighter.
Knowing he was down, and well down, Rakhimov came out for round 8 with a new mentality. He was doing being an aggressive boxer, trying to box behind his pressure. Instead he was going to be a fighter, he was going to up the pressure, up the risk and try to force a street fight on Fuzile, neutralising the boxing of the South African. The increase in pressure and quickly put Fuzile in trouble, and a huge left hand dropped the South African. It was a shot that would have seen off lesser fighters and left them down for the count. Fuzile's fighting heart got him to his feet, though he still looked hurt as Rakhimov jumped on him and unloaded a huge assault, refusing to let Fuzile off the hook. The shots rained down on the local hero until, eventually, he went down, out cold and face first. The referee waving off the bout as Fuzile was going down.
Although the score cards weren't announced, it's hard to imagine them being any closer than 5-2 in favour of Fuzile, and in fact it could easily have been 7-0 to the South African. Despite being so far down Rakhimov's power and intensity won out, and undoing all the good work of Fuzile and earned him a shot at IBF champion Tevin Farmer, with that bout mandated to take place in the next 90 days.
If we're being honest we feel that both Rakhimov and Fuzile would have too much for Farmer, and really are looking forward to see the Tajik born warrior take on the American slickster.
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