The first of three world title fights in Macau today saw the always fun to watch Russian Evgeny Gradovich (19-0, 9) defended his IBF Featherweight title against Belgian based Alexander Miskirtchian (24-3-1, 9)
Miskirtchain, who entered the bout as the European champion but still a huge under-dog, impressed early on as he fought with with fire and every time Gradovich landed he fired back as if to suggest that he was an equal to the champion. Although it was a solid start by the challenger he was unable to really win either of the opening rounds as Gradovich just did a but more work and just had that little bit extra on his shots.
Although the opening two were fun and competitive we then saw Gradovich moving up a gear and things went from fun to very enjoyable as the two traded shots from mid-range. It was clear neither man had 1-punch power but they were making up for it in out put with a lot of leather being thrown by both men. As the pace picked up so did the damage and by the end of round 3 Miskirtchian was cut around the left eye. Originally it looked like it was from a clash of heads but replays suggest it was from a punch, a ruling that was agreed with the referee.
Despite the cut Miskirtchian wasn't showing any fear and kept up his attempt to match the out put of Gradovich. For the challenger this was a bad idea with Gradovich just being better at everything Miskirtchain was trying to do and the result was that the Belgian's face was gradually becoming more and more marked up with eye and nose both showing signs of damage and giving Gradovich a real target area.
Miskirtchain, to his credit, was trying to take the fight to Gradovich but the Russian was simply too good and showed his under-rated boxing ability as he punched and moved, throwing flurries then getting out of range and repeating. Those flurries were really taking their toll with no single doing damange but the number of them slowly but surely ripping the face of Miskirtchian who's cut on the eye was getting progressively worse.
Although looking in cruise control Gradovich was surprisingly dropped in round 6 by a jab. It was a balance issue from the Russian and, although some may have wanted to score it a 10-8 round for the challenger it seemed more like a round that we'd have 10-9 to Miskirtchian, he had lostthe rest of the round prior to the knockdown. The knockdown seemed to serve as a reminder to Gradovich that he had to keep his boxing on point and in round 7 he got back to what he was good at and continued to rip open the face of Miskirtchian.
After 7 rounds of good, exciting boxing things started to drop off a little bit as the two men fell into each other a little more and were forced into clinches. The were rare but becoming more regular as Gradovich looked to landed heavier shots than earlier on in the fight. The heavier shots from Gradovich were less accurate than his lighter shots from earlier in the fight but they did manage to look very eye catching when they landed.
By round 8 it wasn't just Miskirtchain who was showing signs of being in a fight but also Gradovich who was himself wearing bruises over his face courtesy of Miskirtchian's head shots which were still coming back at the champion but never managing to have a great effect on Gradovich who was correcting small faults round after round. It wasn't a lot of work for Gradovich but he was being given good advice by trainer Robert Garcia who was tryign to stop Gradovich from being knocked down again and telling him to stop trying to launch shots off balance, Gradovich wasn't always listen but he did continue to dominate.
Having fallen well behind Miskirtchian didn't show a lack of desire and he continued to try and fight back in the championship rounds. He was still being out classed but continued to show his gameness and refused to just give up on his dream. As a result we continued to get some good, high paced action through out the final two rounds even though the bout was in the bag for Gradovich.
Whilst we know we love watching Gradovich, who always throws a lot of shots, we'll admit we wouldn't mind seeing Miskirtchain again. The fight may have showed the difference between world class and European class but Miskirtchian gave a really good account of himself despite the scorecards suggesting otherwise. It was a step too far at this point in his career for Miskirtchain but he needs to be given credit for putting up an excellent fight with Gradovich.
The scores, whilst predictable, all favoured Gradovich by a wide margin, as he made the third defence of his title.
This was the second world title set back for Belgian boxers after Stephane Jamoye was stopped by Shinsuke Yamaaka just a few weeks ago in a WC Bantamweight fight.
(Image courtesy of http://www.venetianmacao.com)
World Title Results
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