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.
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.
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.