For today's controversial clash we are going to look at one of the worst decisions of 2017, with officials that essentially did everything they could to make sure the local fighter won. Sadly it came at the expensive of someone who was rising through the ranks and would instantly have been in the world title mix had it not been for the officiating here.
Jamshidbek Najmiddinov (10-0, 8) Vs Viktor Postol (28-1, 12)
Of the two fighters it's obviously Viktor Postol is the more well known name. This was actually his first bout following his 2016 loss to Terence Crawford, in which he lost the WBC 140lb title to the American star in a big unification bout. Prior to losing to Crawford Postol had been one of the best fighters in the Light Welterweight division and had become a notable name on both sides of the Atlantic. He had proven himself in Europe to begin with, and then travelled to the US and had a run of wins against the likes of Selcuk Aydin and Lucas Martin Matthysse.
In the ring Postol was was a tall, rangy outside-boxer. He looked to establish range, keep opponents at bay and box them. He wasn't there to take risks, or take punishment, but to play it safe, rack up the rounds and chip away at opponents, as we saw against the likes of Aydin and Matthysse. Notably however he had also been out of the ring for around 14 months following the Crawford bout.
The 27 year old Jamshidbek Najmitdinov was a totally unknown Uzbek hopeful who had fought absolutely nobody of note prior to this bout. His only real achievement was that he had won the Uzbek national title, but the talent pool on the Uzbek national scene is essentially non-existent and his other goes were all pretty limited novices. This wasn't just a step up in terms of competition, going from domestic, lower level foes to Postol, but was also Najmitdinov's first bout outside of Uzbekistan.
On paper it was clear that Najmitdinov was there to get Postol an easy win, especially after the long lay off for the Ukrainian. Paper however doesn't tell the story of a fighter and that was found out very quickly as Najmitdinov proved he was there with a point to prove, and that he wanted to make a name for himself.
From the opening bell Najmitdinov looked aggressive, exciting and like a real natural. He fought with his hands down, lured Postol in to throwing and countered well, landing looping shots from the southpaw stance and he seemed to twice put Postol down from looping shots. Postol had moments, but Najmitdinov had far more of them, and he had the more eye catching ones as well.
In round 2 it seemed like Postol was figuring his man out, pressing well, jabbing well and Najmitdinov seemed to getting too reckless and doing some really strange and ineffective things in there. After a bad start it seemed Postol was now getting into gear, that was until round 3 when Najmitdinov starting to make things messy, frustrating Postol, show boating and landing wide looping shots once again. It appeared that Najmitdinov was having fun with Postol, keeping his hands down at times, baiting and countering the Ukrainian. The gamesmanship from Najmitdinov stepped up a gear in round 4 when he flat out taunted the former world champion.
Najmitdinov's enjoyment of the bout grew more in round 5, when he dropped Postol with a short left hand. Postol got up from the knockdown but was all over the place through to the end of the round, with Najmitdinov coming incredibly close to getting the stoppage. Postol was surviving, spoiling and doing all he could to get to the end of the round and clear his head, but it was a round that saw him really on the wrong end of things.
After a really good round 5 for Najmitdinov he seemed to slow down significantly in round 6 as Postol got himself back in into the bout. The Uzbek looked like he had shot his load and took the full round to recover his gas tank. That turned out to be a smart decision as he looked more aggressive in round 7, whilst Postol held and spoiled, realising his man was still dangerous.
With Najmitdinov seemingly in a clear lead going into the later rounds Postol picked up the pace in round 8, this seemed to get back into the bout, but he needed to do more in the final 2 rounds, and he didn't seem to do enough, for us at least to over-turn the good start by the unheralded Uzbek. Postol did show his class late on, there's no doubt about that, but given the knockdown, and very good start from Najmitdinov it was a case that Postol would have needed a knockdown, at the very least.
After 10 rounds we went to the scorecards and it seemed, from viewing the bout, that Najmitdinov had taken the decision, even in Postiol's backyard. Sadly however the decision wasn't to go the way of the Uzbek. In fact one judge gave Najmitdinov only one round, and the other two judges gave him just 2 rounds, 3 horrifically bad scorecards.
Sadly for Najmitdinov he was essentially frozen out of interest bouts for years after this whilst Postol got bouts with the likes of Josh Taylor and Jose Carlos Ramirez within 3 years of this very, very questionable win.
When we have some free time we're hoping to add a series of fun articles to the site. Hopefully these will be enjoyable little short features