Russia defeated the United States in all head-to-head bouts at the International Center of Boxing in Moscow – competing at the latest edition of IBA Champions’ Night.
Five matches were held between the two great boxing nations, headlining a night of exceptional displays across the card.
The main event saw the United States’ Elvis Garcia took on Aleksei Egorov from Russia in the 90.7+kg category. The two big men traded shots in a competitive contest, the closest call between the two nations. Garcia showed resilience from Egorov’s strikes, while applying some of his own from close range. However, Egorov was more productive and accurate, sealing five wins from five for Russia.
Beshto Shavlaev bested Kwame Ritter in the 79.4kg match-up, being able to turn the screw on the American after a couple of closely fought rounds. While Ritter remained in contention at the halfway point, Shavlaev upped the tempo and forced a referee’s count in the third round, keeping his composure to close out the fourth without incident, leading to his arm being raised.
Pavel Sosulin had the most convincing victory of the night against Alexis Espino in the 76.2kg bout, forcing a TKO in the second round. Despite the American looking solid in the opener, he went down to one knee soon after, having been on the receiving end of a barrage of sickening blows from the home favourite who showed no mercy when finding a weak spot in his opponent.
American Nikita Ababiy took on Yury Osipov in the 72.6kg fight. Heading into this match, both were undefeated professionally and both were able to get strikes in in the opening round of the bout, but it was Osipov with his powered punches who excelled for the rest of the four rounds.
Abel Mendoza faced Vsevolod Shumkov in the first American-Russian bout of the night at 61.2kg, a preview of the strong boxing soon to come. While Mendoza found some weaknesses in the second round – piling in some of the fastest combinations seen on the night – Shumkov looked more comfortable in the other rounds and duly had his arm raised.
Two 10-round bouts lasted the allocated time earlier in the night.
An all-Russian affair saw Orkhan Gadzhiev have his arm raised at the end of the 76.2kg bout with Konstantin Ponomarev. Gadzhiev had already left his mark, literally, on the face of Ponomarev by the end of round two, but Ponomarev continued to show grit, having no fear to go toe-to-toe with his opponent. Perhaps overzealous leading to some inaccuracy, he would also be deducted points for a low blow on Gadzhiev. Point deduction or not, Gadzhiev looked the better fighter with credit given to Ponomarev for lasting the length of bout. Donning the Russian and Azerbaijan flags on his chest, Gadzhiev dropped to his knees in celebration after hearing the decision go in his favour.
Mukhammad Shekhov of Uzbekistan fared well in his 55.3kg bout with Colombia’s Leonardo Carrillo.
A cautious start soon changed to a controllable affair for Shekhov, who was occasionally troubled by the Colombian’s attempts to catch him on the break. A scrap that focused on evasion as much as landing strikes, the Uzbek boxer was confirmed the winner thanks to his activity.
The earlier four-round bouts saw Russian prospects face each other in the 90.7+kg category.
In the opening fight of the night, it was a victory for Teymuraz Surov over Nikita Duzenko. Surov started with fast combinations of punches, catching his opponent in the face repeatedly. Although Duzenko was competitive and there was little between them at the halfway stage, he started to struggle with the intensity – even taking a late uppercut to the chin.
Nikita Rustenko was even more dominant in his bout against his compatriot Alexey Kalinovich, forcing a TKO in the third round. From the bell, Rustenko was dominant as Kalinovich tried to defend himself, but eventually the referee deemed the 20-year-old was no longer able to do that.
Another bout at that weight saw 35-year-old Alexander Zubkov face 33-year-old Rasul Magomedov, two far more experienced fighters. Magomedov was on the front foot in that first round, cornering his foe more as the bout went on. But the fight would end after just three of a possible eight rounds via RTD after Zubkov took a lot of heavy blows.
The other eight-round fight lasted until the end, as Leon Antonyan defeated Maxim Smirnov in the 79.4kg category. It was a back-and-forth battle between them in the early part, but as it wore on, Antonyan looked more in control, able to slow pick apart his opponent with the best quality punches, winning on points decision.
IBA has scheduled 16 more exciting Champions’ Nights in 2024 after 10 successful editions throughout the last year.