The World Boxing Super Series (WBSS) Season 2 began today and actually kicked off with a tape delay bout in the Light Welterweight division. The bout saw WBA champion Kiryl Relikh (23-2, 19) facing off with former IBF champion Eduard Troyanovsky (27-2, 24) in what looked like an excellent match up on paper. Sadly the bout didn't quite manage to have the fireworks expected of it, though still managed deliver a competitive and compelling contest between two well matched fighters. Just not one that quite managed to deliver the explosive action we had anticipated.
The first round was a close one with Troyanovsky getting his jab into the face of Relikh who looked to come in and make the fight a more active back and forth. It was a risky strategy from the Belarusian but one that showed his belief in his own durability. Relikh's belief in his physical strength saw him often being the man who pressed the action, but there was always a worry that Troyanovsky would land a brutal right hand, something he has done in the past even when being out boxed.
Relikh's insistence on coming forward was clumsy at times but saw him landing some solid left hands whilst Troyanovsky managed to land the heavier looking shots, particularly his jab and his counter shots. It looked like both men were dangerous, and both had the potential to stop the other, but neither man could ever quite land their cleanest and hard shots.
As we entered the middle rounds things began to get a touch sloppier, but the bout was hard to take your eyes off with Relikh continue to march forward, looking to land heavy shots but taking the occasional hard single shot from the big punching Russian challenger.
With Relikh applying all the pressure Troyanovsky was essentially fighting as a back-foot counter puncher, with a low output but landing clean hard punches as Relikh came in. Relikh's pressure had a break through in round 9 as he pinned Troyanovsky on the ropes and unloaded. Despite being under heavy pressure Troyanovsky countered well, landing a huge uppercut and a massive hook, but couldn't discourage the champion who kept marching in.
The final rounds saw the intensity drop but for the most part Relikh continued to be the aggressor, that was until the final minute, when Troyanovsky's power really hard it's first break through, hurting Relikh who backed off. It was the clearest round for Troyanovsky, thanks to a perfect 1-2 that really stunned Relikh and allowed him to take control. By then however it was too little too late.
The general feeling was that Relikh had always been the aggressor. Troyanovsky made great use of his jab through out, but was often looking the less hungry fighter and in the end this proved to be the difference, with Relikh taking the unanimous decision, with close card of 115-113 from all 3 judges.
After the fight Relikh was unhappy with his own performance, stating he hunted too much for the KO. Troyanovsky, who went 12 rounds for the first time in his career, seemed proud of his performance and a case could have been made the if he was just a year or two younger he'd have take the win here.
An amazing fact, but in someways a disappointing one, is that no Japanese fighter has ever won a world title bout in Europe. That record continued earlier today as Japanese Light Welterweight Keita Obara (16-2-1, 15) [小原 佳太] suffered a painful second round loss to Russian puncher Eduard Troyanovsky (25-0, 22) in a bout held in Moscow for the IBF and IBO titles.
The opening round was a close one with both fighting cautiously, neither wanting to over-commit or take too many risks. It saw Obara being tagged by one notable right hand and one uppercut whilst landing one solid right hand of his own, pretty much everything else that connected was a jab with both understanding that the other man had serious power.
Whilst Obara seemed to acquit himself well for the opening round that was all forgotten in round 2 when Troyanovsky moved into third gear and Obara failed to respond before being hurt. A follow up attack sent Obara through the ropes and outside of the ring and immediately saw Troyanovsky celebrate with a backflip. Obara's fighting instinct kicked in and he pulled himself form the ground and back into the ring ring but hadn't recovered from the shots that had sent him out of the ring and and he was stopped soon afterwards from a follow up attack that forced the referee to stop him.
For the champion the this was one of his most impressive performances. A slow start saw him move through the gears, hurt his man and follow up with a vicious attack that leaves the champion as arguably the most destructive fighter at 140lbs today. Maybe not the most skilled, that's obvious Terence Crawford, but the most destructive.
For Obara the next move will be a difficult one. He could go back to Japan and fight at Oriental level, with fights against the likes of Al River and Hiroki Okada being interesting assignments, a move up in weight could also be interesting, with bouts against the likes of Suyon Takayama, Jack Brubaker and Toshio Arikawa. Sadly though the loss, and the nature of it, will be hard to bounce back from and it could be that he takes a long break before considering a ring return.
World Title Results
Whether you like them or not World Titles add prestige to any bout as a result we've included the results of world title bouts in this special section.