On Saturday night in Brussels fans got the chance to see local hero Ryad Merhy (30-1, 25) successfully defend his WBA "regular" Cruiserweight title for the first time, as he defeated Chinese challenger Zhaoxin Zhang (10-2-1, 6), who some how entered the bout ranked #14 by the WBA despite not having a single win of note on his record.
Whilst the WBA are known as a farcical organisation in recent years, it very much felt, going in to this one, that Zhang had been parachuted a ranking to help Merhy get an easy defense and to create a bit of history, with Zhang being the first ever Chinese Cruiserweight to fight for a world title. Sadly though all it really did was further take away from the legitimacy of the WBA, who need to do better before the move to re-recognise the Association picks up any more steam with antics like this.
As for the bout everyone, and their dog, was picking a Merhy stoppage, with the main question going in not being about who would win, but how long it would take him. And surprisingly it took until round 8 for the Belgian based fighter, originally from the Ivory Coast, to see off Zhang. That was despite Merhy being in total control and looking like he could have gone through the gears and really taken this any time he wanted.
To his credit Zhang showed some ambition, some skills and a busy jab, but there was very little on his shots and every time Merhy opened up the challenger looked worried and in trouble. It was clear Zhang had nothing to get Merhy's respect and midway through round 8 Merhy dropped his man with a sweeping left hook for the second knockdown of the fight. Zhang showed heart to get to his feet but the referee made the right call in stopping the bout and saving Zhang, who seemed unhappy at the stoppage but really was lucky that Merhy wasn't in an angry mood as this could have gotten very ugly, very quickly.
As for Merhy this really needs to be used to kick start his career in a division that is heavily dominated by European fighters. There are much, much, much better options out there for him than a fighter like Zhang.
As for Zhang however we wouldn't be that disappointed to see him mixing on the OPBF title scene in the newar future. The OPBF title picture in the region is poor, and he showed enough here to suggest he could play a role in the regional scene. Fingers crossed that is something he and his team consider, despite this set back.
Earlier today fight fans had the chance to see the WBA crown a 4th concurrent Cruisierweight champion, as Kazakh Beibut Shumenov (18-2, 12) and German based Turk Hizni Altunkaya (30-2, 17) battled for the frankly ridiculous for the WBA “regular” Cruiserweight title, giving us a WBA Super champion, champion in Recess, Interim champion and now Regular champion.
From the opening round it seemed very clear the men were on very different levels. Shumenov had things his way as he landed a nice flurry about 30 seconds into the bout before going on to drop Altunkaya with a body shot mid-way through the opening round. It looked like we were on for an early finish, but instead the Turk managed to fiddle his way through the round.
From round 2 the bout began to take on a tiresome pattern of Shumenov trying to box and Altunkaya trying to do as little as possible other than survive. The Kazakh showed flashes, as he fought in bursts, but lacked the fire power and intensity to see off Altunkaya. The Turk showed next to nothing of his own, but did survive the bursts with little problem.
The pattern only really changed in round 9, when Shumenov upped the intensity and cornered Altunkaya, dropping him from a flurry of shots. He recovered to his feet but was hammered through much of the round as it was becoming clear he was tired and had mentally given up. To his credit he saw out the round, but was stopped by his corner between rounds 9 and 10.
Despite a 2 year layoff Shumenov looked decent, but really had no one in the opposite corner to test him, and it's unclear as to what Shumenov really has left in the tank. However he is now one of the 4 WBA champions in the division and will likely get some opportunities for a notable fight in the near future.
The past few days have been very busy for fans of the Cruiserweight division with 3 "world" title bouts, all for different versions of the WBA title. The first of those bouts saw Yunier Dorticos score a 10th round TKO win over Youri Kayembre Kalenga, in a FOTY contender, to claim the "interim" title, the following day Denuis Lebedev became the "Super" champion as he unified the WBA title with the IBF title, stopping Victor Emilio Ramirez in 2 rounds. Later on Saturday saw a third WBA title fight in the space of around 27 hours.
This time it was the "regular" title on the line with Kazakh Beibut Shumenov (17-2, 11) facing Junior Anthony Wright (15-2-1, 12), in a bout that was put together on less than a week's notice and seemed to be one of the many jokes that the WBA have given us in recent weeks. It was made with a late notice that the bout missed out on TV coverage and was essentially a joke title bout, especially given the other two title bouts.
Despite being a "joke title fight", the bout it's self looked like a good one on paper, between two heavy handed, talented but flawed fighters, both looking to score a noteworthy win. Thankfully the bout proved to be just as good in the ring as it looked on paper.
The fight started well for Shumenov who used his unorthodox boxing to make Wright look out classed, until round 5 when the American fighter dropped Shumenov with a very solid shot. Sadly for Wright however that was a rare moment of success and in round 8 Shumenov twice dropped Wright, who was beginning to have the bout go all his way.
Wright seemed to bounce back from the knockdowns well, but a third knockdown, in round 10, saw his corner immediately throw in the towel to give Shumenov the win.
Sadly for the Kazakh it would seem likely that he will now have to face either Dorticos or Lebedev, who are both likely to really hurt Shumenov if the bouts are made later this year.
Some fights flat out suck and when a fighter is called BJ it should come as no shock when he's involved in a really, really, sucky fight. That was the case on Saturday night in the US when Kazakhstan's Beibut Shumenov (16-2, 10) took on the hapless, and genuinely terrible, BJ Flores (31-2-1, 20). The bout didn't just suck, but it showed how inept both men were as they made for a poor excuse for a WBA “interim” Cruiserweight title contest.
Early on Flores looked the bigger man and looked like the boss as he came forward, landed hard looking right hands and looked like the boss. For the first 2 rounds Flores looked like he was going to make this very easy for himself and seemed like he was simply going to be too strong for the Kazakh.
In round 3 the fight changed with Shumenov using intelligent movement and making Flores look like an imbecile. The American plodded forward, trying to land single right hands but being made to look like a total novice. It was the change in the fight that really became rather telling as Flores, a supposed “expert analyst”, didn't seem to have any idea of how to answer the movement of Shumenov.
The movement of the Kazakh saw him claim round 4 to level up, if not secure the lead, in the fight.
Through the middle of the fight things swung from one way to another but on the whole it seemed like we had a runner versus a plodder. Shumenov was running, he wasn't hiding it and he wasn't trying to make it the basis of much offense, instead preferring single shots. Flores on the other hand plodded around the ring looking lost. Every so often Shumenov would slow down, Flores would land a couple of solid looking right hands, and take the round but neither man managed to create much momentum.
Going in to the final third it was really close. We, like the PBC announcers, had the bout even after 8 and it really was all to play for. Then we saw Shumenov dominate with his movement whilst Flores did nothing other than plod. The offense, from both, was minimal for the final 4 rounds but Shumenov seemed to be comfortably the more aggressive man, whilst also being the more negative, Flores plodded but threw little, showing his ineptitude at cutting off the ring.
Going in to the final round it was clear Flores was behind and even his corner seemed to know it as they instructed him to cut the ring. Amazingly Flores admitted what was clear and that he didn't know what to do, as he asked “how?”, as in “how do I cut the ring off?” By then it was pointless in asking, he had thrown away 3 key rounds by plodding and following Shumenov, rather than cutting the ring off. Even with his trainer's instructions before round 12, he showed no real ability to cut the ring and even lost that round as well.
Although it had been competitive, yet dull, through 8 rounds, the final 4 were clear with Flores doing nothing through them as he lost by scores of 116-112 on all 3 cards.
After the fight Shumenov seemed to indicate that his relationship with trainer Ismael Salas has become a good one, Flores however acted like a spoilt brat and complained about the tactics used by Shumenov. It was clear that whilst Shumenov wasn't “exciting” but the complaining by Flores after the bout made him seem little more than a whiny child, and one who really needs to understand the sport than he has been involved in for most of his life.
Whilst Shumenov is now the WBA “interim” Cruiserweight champion it was obvious that he wasn't a world class Cruiserweight and he should be all he can to avoid the “regular” champion Denis Lebedev, who really would chew him up and spit out if the two were to ever meet.
Sometimes we expect something special and in the Cruiserweight division we do tend to get something special more often than not. Sadly this weekend's WBC Cruiserweight title fight between Krzysztof Wlodarczyk (49-3-1, 35) and Grigory Drozd (39-1, 27) really failed to live up to expectation and in many ways was one of the most frustrating bouts we've seen this year with rounds that had more holding than punches and for a number of rounds it was referee Ian John Lewis who was more active than the two fighters combined.
The fight started slowly, an expected feature of any Wlodarczyk fight where he has often been caught sleep walking through a number of early rounds with out doing much. This made it easy for the judges to have Drozd 4-0 up after 4 rounds based on what little work the Russian fighter actually did, which in all honesty wasn't a great deal though was eye catching when he let his hands go.
Having taken the first 4 rounds with relative ease Drozd added round 5 to the bank as he again out worked the Pole who was being even lazier than usual. It was frustrating to watch Wlodarczyk continue to sleep walk through fights, throwing an occasional and wild right hand that seemed more likely to hit a fan or the referee than to actually with Drozd who was surprisingly light on his toes for such a muscular fighter.
Sadly from 6 to mid-way through round 8 the bout went from frustrating boxing to a series of hugging, clinching, wrestling, spoiling and absolutely nothing resembling boxing as Drozd showed a lack of an inside game and Wlodarczyk showed a lack of desire. They were, to put it politely, some of the worse rounds we've seen this year with round 6 in particular standing out for a lack of action, a lack of punches and a lack of anything exciting. For rounds 6 and 7 to have been fought that way in a world title bout was genuinely embarrassing to the sport and it was a shame Ian John Lewis didn't do his job and warn both fighters for the holding, pushing, spoiling and general lack of action.
It was during all the holding that Drozd suffered a small cut, a replay at the start of round 8 showed the accidental nature of the cut which never threatened to end the bout. In round 8 however it was Wlodarczyk who suffered a cut from the crisp punching of Drozd. The shot that cut the Pole seemed to be a very good one and sent Drozd to a knee where he took his time to recover his senses and used his experience. From then on however there was very little from the Pole who seemed to accept his title was going to Drozd.
Drozd did picked up the pace in round 9 and seemed to have Wlodarczyk ready to go though backed off. From then on it seemed like Drozd was happy to unload his shots but never go full out for the stoppage. It wasn't so much that he was carrying Drozd but instead he seemed too scared to go for the kill, as if he had little belief in his own ability to take a shot. Whilst we wouldn't suggest Drozd was iron chinned Wlodarczyk was throwing nothing to make the Russian worry and at the end the bout petered out into a relatively clear and straight forward decision for the Russian.
Presumably this win for Drozd will set up some very interesting possibilities. He could fight unification bouts with Denis Lebedev, Marco Huck or Yoan Pablo Hernandez, he could also try to avenge his sole loss to Firat Arslan, or fight the winner of the up coming contest between Tony Bellew and Nathan Cleverly. We suspect however that he may take an easy voluntary before looking at a more interesting contest down the line. On the back of this victory however he will need to show more killer instinct if he's going to have a memorable reign as this was tiresome in parts, brilliant in others but overall not a memorable fight to watch.
Whilst we do tend to focus on the smaller weights we need to admit we love the Cruiserweight division which has given us some of the best fights over the last few years. One of those great fights, albeit one that left us with a feeling of anger, was last year's sensational contest between Guillermo Jones and Denis Lebedev (26-2, 20). That bout saw Jones defeating the Russian fighter though failing a post-fight drugs tests that saw Lebedev continue to have a loss on his record though get reinstated as the WBA world champion.
More than 16 months after the Jones/Lebedev fight we finally got to see Lebedev, the WBA Cruiserweight champion, back in action as he took on the previously unbeaten Polish challenger Pawel Kolodziej (33-1, 18).
The fight started slowly with Kolodziej using height and reach to keep Lebedev on the outside. It was a tactic that worked in some ways though slowed the bout to a near standstill at times. Unfortunately for the challenger it was also a tactic that wasn't going to work for long unless he had something extra in the tank. He didn't.
Part way through round 2 Lebedev connected cleanly, for the first time, and Kolodziej seemed stunned as if he was surprised by Lebedev's power. From then out it seemed to be a case of waiting for the follow up shot which came only moments later flooring the challenger hard.
Kolodziej, to his credit, managed to get up from the knockdown though had no idea where he was or what his body was doing and referee Guillermo Perez Pineda did the right thing stopping the bout with the Pole in no fit state to continue. Had he allowed the bout to go on the Pole would have been down almost immediately with Lebedev's power being too much.
Whilst this was a welcome return to the ring from the Russian fighter we do still wonder about the damage done in the Jones fight. Lebedev never got out of first gear, he didn't need to, and he never took any sort of a shot. We do wonder what happens when he does take a shot and when he does need to fight through adversity again. Hopefully he'll be the fighter he once was, but this bout told us next to nothing about what Lebedev has left.
It's not too often that we call top Russian amateurs “flops” but in the case of Alexander Alekseev (24-3-1, 20) that description, at least in terms of his professional career, appears to have been spot on as the Russian once again came up short when competing against a top tier opponent.
The 32 year southpaw, originally from Uzbekistan, though now based in Germany via Russia, was tipped as a future professional star when he began fighting for pay in 2006. He had good reason to be tipped for success after claiming World Amateur gold (2005), World Amateur silver (2003) and European gold (2004). In fact his amateur credentials were nothing short of outstanding despite the fact he had failed to medal at the 2004 Olympics, where he unfortunately ran into Odlanier Solis in his first contest.
Alekseev began his career amazingly well with 16 straight wins, 15 of those by stoppage, as he cruised through the likes of Lee Swaby, Rob Calloway. The all changed as Alekseev came undone against his first notable opponent, Victor Emilio Ramirez, who stopped Alekseev in the ninth round of a WBO interim world title fight.
Unfortunately in the 10 fights following the loss to Ramirez it appeared that Alekseev was a different fighter. A man who was aware of his issues and a man who thought too much about them rather than fighting his strengths. These issues saw him losing, via stoppage, to Denis Lebedev and later being fortunate to get a draw against Firat Arslan.
Despite those set backs Alekseev was given his second world title fight this past weekend as he challenged Cuban Yoan Pablo Hernandez (28-1, 14) for the IBF Cruiserweight title. Some thought this would bring out the best in Alekseev, instead however we saw the same issues we all knew haunted Alekseev, his lack of durability.
The Russian looked sharp to begin with and utilised his crisp jab in the early portion of the fight though at times it appeared that the jab was the sole weapon that Alekseev trusted whilst Hernandez was more willing to vary his shots. It was the varied arsenal of Hernandez that seemed the more impressive with the Cuban happy to land stinging body shots, a vicious right hook and a wicked straight left. Alekseev took the shots well in the opening round though it seemed clear that he was working harder and achieving less than the champion who managed to secure a 10-8 round with an excellent straight that dropped Alekseev with seconds of the opening round left.
With Hernandez aware he had the power advantage the Cuban seemed to relax, even more than usual, as if he knew he could drop Alekseev almost as and when he wished. The power of the champion was once again evident in round 5 as a left hand over the top sent Alekseev down for a second time. This time Alekseev seemed to struggle to his feet and a different referee (such as the one who was refereed Carl Froch v George Groves in the United Kingdom) would have stopped the bout as Hernandez looked for the stoppage there and then. Fortunately for Alekseev the bell saved him though by now he was in a hole.
Having established a lead on the scorecards Hernandez seemed to drop his work-rate, picking is spots more carefully and almost inviting Alekseev in. It was clear Hernandez was looking for another bomb if he had the chance to land it, but wasn't willing to risk blowing himself out to find it.
By the end of round 9 Hernandez had gone from looking conservative to looking like a man who was clearly tiring. It seemed, at last, that there was hope for Alekseev. Unfortunately for the Russian it seemed that Hernandez had more in the tank than he was showing and in round 10 he picked up the pace slightly before landing an incredibly sweet right hook that sent Alekseev down for a third time. This time the referee had seen enough and stopped the contest before seeing if the Russian could get up.
Whilst it clearly took a lot of guts for Alekseev to get up from the previous knockdowns this was probably Alekseev's “final chance”. He is unlikely to get another world title fight and in fact he may well need to have a long, hard think about his future in the sport.
Courtesy of boxrec.com
It was just over a month ago that Russian Cruiserweight Denis Lebedev lost his WBA title to Guillermo Jones in one of the stand out fights of the year. In that fight Lebedev was fighting off swelling, exhaustion and Jones before eventually succumbing to all 3.
Just a few weeks after Lebedev's loss Russian pride was again on the line in the Cruiserweight division as the highly ranked Rakhim Chakhkiev, dubbed "The Machine" went up against WBC champion Krzysztof Wlodarczyk.
Going in to the fight Chakhkiev looked to be the emerging star of Russian boxing. He was unbeaten (16-0, 12), a highly decorated amateur and had seemingly everything a fighter could want-skill, power and a fantastic style built around his explosive aggressiveness.
In the opening round Chakhkiev showed off all the traits that had made him so highly touted. He drummed Wlodarczyk to the head and body, was relentless in his assault that appeared to shake up the defending champion and actually cut Wlodarczyk. It appeared that Chakhkiev was telling the boxing world "here I am, I deserve to be in world title fights".
Chakhkiev's aggressive style seemed to be working wonders in the rounds that followed his excellent opener. He dropped Wlodarczyk in the 3rd round and was clearly ahead on the scorecards going in to the 5th round.
With his lead looking comfortable on the card Chakhkiev's work rate seemed to drop. It seemed as if he was becoming more conservative knowing that he had never been the 12 round distance before. He was still the more visibly active in the 5th round than Wlodarczcyk but he was no longer thoroughly dominating the champion like he had been.
In round 6 the bout suddenly flipped on it's head as a short hook by Wlodarczyk sent the Russian to the canvas. Chakhkiev got up quickly and seemed to be irritated by the fact he had been caught by what some may have felt was a shot on the break. Despite the controversy of the knockdown the shot was clearly a turning point and the following round Chakhkiev was down again.
Going into round 8 the Machine was certainly starting to stutter. His 6 point lead after just 5 rounds was now cut to 2 points following successive 10-8 rounds for the Pole and it appeared that the slow down in Chakhkiev's work rate wasn't so much him being conservative but him being spent after the very quick start. His shots no longer had the snap on them that they'd had earlier in the bout and his nose was now bleeding notably.
Sadly for Chakhkiev he lacked the heart of Lebedev and after being dropped again in round 8 it was clear he was wanting to quit. Although he recovered to his feet after being dropped for a 3rd time in the bout he was much slower to his feet and appeared to shake his head. The referee seemed to ignore the signs of Chakhkiev wanting to quit but when the Russian went down again just seconds later the bout was quickly called.
Aged 30 it appeared that "The Machine" either wasn't fueled for 12 rounds or simply broke down. By the way he appeared to quit mentally in the 7th it appears that this machine may need some repairs if he's ever going to reach the heady heights he seemed destined for when he turned professional.
Now with a record of 16-1 (12) Chakhkiev has dropped from being one of the worlds premier Cruiserweight contenders to being a man with a huge amount of questions hanging over his head. Does he have stamina problems? Is it an issue of heart? A poor chin? Is he just a bully? Does he have the mentality to even come back from this loss?
For Wlodarczyk (48-2-1, 34) this result does add to the legitimacy of his title reign though many would be calling for a fight between him and Denis Lebedev, a fight that would allow Lebedev a chance at redemption and another major pay day for Wlodarczyk
Courtesy of Boxrec.com
It's not often that the Cruiserweight division managed to get the attention of the boxing world but that's exactly what happened recently thanks to Russian toughman Denis Lebedev (25-2, 19) and Panamanian Guillermo Jones (39-3-2, 31) who put on a true FOTY candidate. The clash, for the WBA Cruiserweight really had everything a fight fan could want to see in a fight including action, heart, bombs from both sides and genuine guts.
The fight started at a solid pace with Lebedev using his sharp, accurate right jab to connect on his taller opponent, though it was the powerful right hands of Jones that really looked like the bigger shots. Although Lebedev had clearly outworked Jones in the opening round his face was already looking a bit of a mess.
As the fight went on Lebedev's face went from bad, to awful, to worse and finally a total mess as the brave Russian fought through massive swelling to land his own monster shots on Jones. Despite the Panamanian being forced to take massive hooks and uppercuts he seemed completely unfazed by the shots whilst managing to land his own crisp uppercuts, sharp right hands and hurtful body shots that all took their tall on the much shorter Lebedev.
Although Lebedev's face was a genuine mess going through the middle rounds the Russian was doing well despite no help, at all, from his corner team (including Kostya Tszyu), the ringside doctor or the referee who acted as if a swollen face was the norm for a fight. Worryingly South African referee Stanley Christodoulou seemed almost oblivious to the fact Lebedev had too swollen shut eyes and was fighting on fumes for several rounds.
In round 11 a visibly exhausted Lebedev was knocked down and he stayed down before the referee waved off the bout, it was obvious that he was completely spent and although some may want to say "he quit" the fact that he had put on a true battle with a disfigured face really should silence those doubters.
The future for neither man looks great. We'd be shocked if Lebedev was ever the same fighter and whilst Jones may have won, the fact he is now 41 and took a number of massive shots may see him a diminished fighter in the future.
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.