In the main event of a huge multi-title, multi-fight card, staged by the RCC and German Titov Boxing Promotions in Ekaterinburg, Russia, WBC #6 and IBF #9 lightweight Zaur Abdullaev got closer to the second shot at a world-title by outpointing tough former WBC champion Dejan Zlaticanin of Montenegro unanimously over twelve rounds. Abdullaev acquired a vacant WBC Silver belt in the process.
The Russian, 27, was two fights removed from the sole loss of his pro career – a stoppage of the hands of reigning/regular WBC champion Devin Haney in September 2019.
Zlaticanin, 37, was in position, which is a dream for Abdullaev, before – he had been owning the green belt in the very same weight class from June 2016 till January 2017. But the Montenegrin was also almost two years removed from his last outing.
Effects of a long lay-off weren’t visible in Zlaticanin’s approach early on. He was the one forcing exchanges in the opening rounds, and he pressured Abdullaev. Using his smaller frame to avoid some lazy shots of the Russian, Zlaticanin made himself even smaller by using a peek-a-boo defense – a mandatory requirement for a much shorter fighter to get inside the taller opponent’s range. Dejan was successful in making his way in in rounds one and two. Abdullaev wasn’t eating anything serious but he was outpunched.
Zaur started to throw and land with more conviction midway into the third. By the fourth, Zlaticanin started to show signs of slowing down. Body punches by Abduallev didn’t help his cause even though he was taking them well. The Russian was indeed an effective body-puncher but he also made the Montenegrin lower his guard and to allow straight right hands to the head. Dejan was also using body shots to punish Abdullaev but the effect was more acoustic than visual.
As rounds went by, Zlaticanin had slowed down to the point where he was often a stationary target for Abduallaev’s assaults. The Montenegrin was wilting under fire but stayed in the fight. In the championship rounds, Zaur’s dominance was punctuated but Zlaticanin found some power and stamina both to remain dangerous till the end and to trouble Abdullaev a bit with his own body shots at the end of the twelfth.
All three judges saw the fight in favor of Abdullaev (14-1, 8 KOs): 119-109, 118-110 and 117-111. Zlaticanin drops down to 24-3, with 16 KOs.