A “bridgerweight” world title eliminator – the WBC’s most recent creation – was officially given birth tonight in Khimki, Russia, where in an all-Russian battle undefeated Evgeny Romanov (16-0, 11 KOs) acquired the WBC Silver belt with a one-sided beatdown of feared local puncher Dmitry Kudryashov (24-4, 23 KOs).
The other thing that officially kicked off tonight at the Khimki Basketball Center is GazFight, a newly created promotional outfit powered by the well-known Russian recording star Basta, aka Vasiliy Vakulenko, who mixed prizefighting with his own performance as well as performances from other artists promoted under his label.
The path of the competitors was very different. WBC #3 rated Kudtyashov, a career cruiserweight who is still rated #15 by the IBF at 200 lbs, was coming off a very disputed win over little-known Czech Vaclav Pejsar – one, which followed his crushing loss to Ilunga Makabu. WBC #4 ranked Romanov, an undefeated WBO #9 heavyweight, is best known for a chilling kayo of future WBC heavyweight king Deontay Wilder thirteen years ago, when both were amateurs.
The fight, served by referee Alexander Kalinkin, started with a massive left hook, winged and missed wildly by Kudryashov, 35. A renowned and feared puncher showed that he came from an entirely different weight class by showing constant movement and activity. The problem was all those moves proved to be absolutely futile. Romanov, also 35, oppositely was very economical and reserved, showing a huge heavyweight’s approach – wait more, throw less, move even less. But all of his moves were warranted, there was nothing unnecessary about them.
The first was virtually even but in the second Romanov’s jab started to split Kudryashov’s guard. Dmitry’s sound attacks were slightly smothered or checked by Romanov. The third was a jabbing contest as well, and then Romanov began to add power punches. Romanov’s biggest asset was his left jab and a subsequent left hook over Kudryashov’s guard. The real danger, however, was in his right hand, which was always seeking a hole in Kudryashov’s left side, trying to tag the Russian Hammer each time he dared to lower his left hand.
Romanov snatched the territory and used single punches during the first half of the fight but started to mix them in two-three-punch combinations after the mid-point. Slow motion allowed anyone to see how fine-tuned was Romanov’s defense, and how negligible was Kudryashov’s defense, who ate punches continuously. Kudryashov’s stamina was slowly draining while Romanov was always cheerful and cool-minded.
After eleven rounds of mostly a one-sided beating, imposed by Romanov, the fight was kicked an improbable new drama soon after the start of the twelfth and final round, when in a desperate attempt to land one, decisive blow, Kudryashov tagged Romanov’s right eye and producing an immediate gash. The eye was pouring blood and rapidly closing – which forced Romanov to end the fight safely, moving away from danger. Kudryashov tried to attack but his punches were way too wide to land cleanly.
Final scores were: 120-108, 119-109 and 119-109 – for Romanov. WBC #1 ranked bridgerweight is Canada-based Colombian Oscar Rivas and WBC #2 is U.S. fighter Bryant Jennings. They are expected to meet in the other title eliminator or for the vacant WBC bridgerweight belt.
Rising Russian light heavyweight prospect Vasiliy Voytsekhovskiy (7-0, 4 KOs) quickly dispatched Nigerian veteran Kabiru Towolawi (14-4, 11 KOs) in two rounds – the feat, which hadn’t been achieved by other fighters, including well-known Nigerian knockout artist Olanrewaju Durodola.
Voytsekovskiy aggressively battled with the Nigerian in the first, ate a huge punch in the second but then landed several overhand rights, pinned Towolawi, 40, to the corner and forced the referee to halt the contest, with the Nigerian being groggy in the corner.
Ivan Kozlovskiy (3-0, 1 KO) captured his first career belt- a vacant WBC International Silver light welterweight title – by beating Tanzanian import Adam Kipenga (11-2, 7 KOs) but it was tougher than one could expect. And tougher than it was reflected on the official scorecards.
The start was pleasantly rapid and successful for the Russian fighter, who dropped Kipenga in the first with a hook. The Tanzanian. who was fighting out of his native land for the very first time, quickly regrouped and started to fight back. Still, Kozlovskiy did better in the second round.
Rounds three and four were different. Kozlovskiy, 24, couldn’t establish his jab with consistency. He began to load a bit too much, revealing his power punches to the African fighter and allowing him to counter him with sudden right hooks. Both southpaws lacked finesse in offense, missing a bit too much but Kipenga’s punches caught Kozlovskiy’s attention. Kipenga looked cheerful and confident after the fourth. Kozlovskiy’s nose was bleeding.
Sensing the fight was going the wrong way, Kozlovskiy began to recall his amateur days, and he started to double and even triple his punches, allowing him to tag Kipenga repeatedly. Kipenga showed signs of urgency in rounds seven and eight but he was unable to mount his offense being too counter-minded. Kozlovskiy slowly broke Kipenga down in later rounds and finished the fight with a solid advantage.
The final scores were 100-89, 99-90 and 98-91 – for the Russian fighter. Kipenga, 22, showed he had all the basics and all the talent but lacked tactics and good training to hone his skills.