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.
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
World Title Results
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