Petra Kirsch – Gelsenkirchen
Tough Russian southpaw Alexander Alekseev dominated strong cruiserweight opponent Enad Licina at the Fraport Arena in Frankfurt, Germany to become the latest incumbent of the European championship at 200lbs on Saturday, February 4. Licina struggled to establish an authority on proceedings as he was overwhelmed by Alekseev’s work-rate, strength and power.
Official verdict: Alekseev wins unanimous decision (118-110, 116-112, 118-112).
A known knockout artist with questionable punch resistance due to a second round blowout defeat to Denis Lebedev, European light heavyweight title challenger Alekseev was cut as early as the first round against Licina. With a blue-collar work-rate Alekseev was dominant in round one yet it was a pawing left punch that opened up the minor laceration over the Russian’s brow.
In round two, Alekseev’s punch variety was on display as he foiled Licina with not a combination of his southpaw stance and his left cross shots, left uppercuts and, of course, the right jab. A true fighter, Licina attempted to box and brawl his way out of trouble by launching a right hand over the top but it did little to stop Alekseev’s heavy-handed dominance as he sought to wreck Licina’s face.
Like the footwork difficulties Yoan Pablo Hernandez and Steve Cunningham encountered in their IBF cruiserweight championship clash, the orthodox versus southpaw posturing posed problems for Licina and Alekseev, who clashed heads – accidentally – on numerous occasions. Licina grew into the fight and, by round three, struck Alekseev with crisp head-bound combinations in three-punch bursts.
A high-tempo contest, both fighters traded shots in a tight space in rounds three and four. In the fifth round, Alekseev continued to confirm his superiority with his relentless fist-throwing and sheer physicality, he was two inches taller than Licina but also appeared to carry extra, useful, mass.
The German crowd, that contained many Licina fans who traveled from Serbia, attempted to rouse their fighter in the sixth but it did not detract from Alekseev’s brute strength who powered through scoring shots with his southpaw jab, right cross, uppercuts and fierce machismo. It was not a fight for purists… more for the bloodthirsty and sadistic.
Alekseev was in full control in the eighth round, controlling the grueling toe-to-toe fight from close range, picking his shots and gaining the upper hand with controlled aggression. Licina, whose three losses have all come by way of decision, showed precisely why no fighter had stopped him by taking Alekseev’s best punches and remaining upright.
Licina showed signs of staying in the fight, staying competitive for a good two minutes of certain stanzas – like the ninth – but Alekseev stole rounds based purely on landing clean, hard, precise punches at the end of play. Alekseev began the tenth with a great shot to the midsection and kept Licina guessing as he continuously switched focus from downstairs to upstairs and back again. The accumulative punishment had worn Licina down, whose desire had been taken away from him by the visiting pugilist.
In round 11, Licina had little to offer, but just enough to prevent the referee from not intervening. He punch output was prudent and Alekseev took advantage as he inflicted a barrage onto the former world title challenger’s frame. A tired Licina, though, rallied for one final push in the 12th round but Alekseev did not take one step backwards and met Licina full on, despite the one-sided scoreline he had accrued.
Licina did enough to warrant the final round but he was out-shone for so long as a new European champion was crowned in Germany. Alekseev overcame and out-bombed a static opponent in Licina and, with the deserved decision win, rose to 23-2-0, 20ko while Licina will rebuild after falling to 21-4-0, 11ko.