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.
Petra Kirsch – Gelsenkirchen
Many column inches have been dedicated to what has been described as the first high-profile boxing event of the year as a championship double-header consisting of Julio Cesar Chavez Jr and Marco Antonio Rubio as well as Nonito Donaire and Wilfredo Vazquez Jr goes down in Texas on Saturday, February 4. However, the San Antonio card has a predecessor as Germany plays host to the highly-anticipated IBF cruiserweight world title rematch between Yoan Pablo Hernandez and Steve Cunningham earlier that evening.
Tough Germany-based Serbian Enad Licina takes on Alexander Alekseev for the EBU belt at 200lbs, while Eduard Gutknecht and Vyacheslav Uzelkov complete the Fraport Arena, Frankfurt card in an EBU light heavyweight title clash.
During a confrontational head-to-head, Cunningham (24-3-0, 12ko) stared down Hernandez – a fighter whom he lost possession of the IBF title to in their last fight – and said: “That is my belt, it is coming back to me.
“You better hug it tonight. I am the real champion. Nobody is going to help you this time. I live, eat, sleep boxing. Nobody ever helped me. No referee helped me up off the ground when I got knocked down. I am worried for you! I am the real champ.”
During the October, 2011 tussle at the Jahnsportforum in Neubrandenburg, Hernandez canvassed Cunningham in round one, however, the latter rallied well, took control of the fight but, in the sixth round, the contest was stopped on account of cuts and therefore went to the scorecards of the judges – who had Cuban southpaw Hernandez ahead at the time.
“It was the wrong decision to stop the fight,” said Cunningham. “All I ask for on Saturday is an equal playing field. Hernandez is a good fighter but I am better. I will prove that I am the best cruiserweight.”
Speaking out on Cunningham’s calls for reclaiming what he believes is rightfully his, Hernandez (25-1-0, 13ko) commented that it is “no problem” for him. He added: “He is American and Americans talk a lot. We’re used to it. I look forward to the rematch. Cunningham is a top cruiserweight, a very strong opponent, but I deserved to win the first fight and I will beat him again. If there is any doubt left that I am better, I will erase all doubts on Saturday night.”
Promoter Wilfried Sauerland said: “The first duel was very dramatic. I disagree with some of the things that happened. I thought that the count in the first round – when Cunningham went down – was too long. And I also disagree with the decision to stop the fight due to the cuts, I think they could have fought on. Now we look forward to a compelling rematch.
“Cunningham and Hernandez are the two best cruiserweights out there. We feel honoured that, on top of the IBF belt, The Ring belt will be at stake. It is going to be very, very interesting.”
On the undercard, emerging cruiserweight Licina (21-3-0, 11ko) promised a fan-friendly contest: “I grew up in Frankfurt and I want to give my fans an entertaining fight. Alekseev is an accomplished fighter but I am tough and I will beat him.”
Opponent Alekseev (22-2-0, 20ko) noted that, to realise his ambitions, he must “win” on fight night. “I want to be the new European champion.”
European light heavyweight ruler Gutknecht (22-1-0, 9ko) honours his mandatory challenger by taking on Uzelkov (25-1-0, 16ko): “He is a very strong opponent but I will remain the champion,” Gutknecht said.
(Embedded video below credit – YouTube, SekondzOut)
On The Beak – Admin
Newly-crowned IBF cruiserweight champion Yoan Pablo Hernandez (25-1-0, 13ko) is eager to get back into the ring with two-time world champion Steve “USS” Cunningham (24-3-0, 12ko). The duo will collide for the second time in four months during Team Sauerland´s big show at the Fraport Arena in Frankfurt on February 4, with Enad Licina (21-3-0, 11ko) and Alexander Alekseev (22-2-0, 20ko) clashing for the vacant European cruiserweight title and European light heavyweight champion Eduard Gutknecht (22-1-0, 9ko) defending his title against mandatory challenger Viacheslav Uzelkov (25-1-0, 16ko).
“It is going to be an exciting night of boxing,” Team Sauerland General Manager Chris Meyer said at today´s press conference in Frankfurt. “The three title fights promise a lot of excitement, especially the rematch between Hernandez and Cunningham. Their first fight was very dramatic. I think it´s a 50-50 fight, with Hernandez being the favourite because he is the world champion.”
Hernandez knocked Cunningham down in the first round of their meeting in October, but the American veteran recovered and fought back. After six rounds, the fight was stopped on cuts with Hernandez ahead on the scorecards. “It was a great feeling to become world champion,” Hernandez said. “However, the ending was a bit unfortunate. I am the better fighter and I am happy to prove it again to erase any doubts. I have a lot of respect for Cunningham, he is a great fighter, very skilled and very fast, but he will not get his title back.”
German coaching legend Ulli Wegner believes the 27-year-old Cuban will be the next big thing: “Yoan Pablo is very special,” Wegner stated. “Ever since he joined me in 2005, we have had a very close relationship. He has the potential to be a huge fan favourite in Germany. Whenever we have joint public appearances, I realise how popular he is with the fans and the media. He has great things ahead.”
In the co-featured main event, former world title challenger Enad Licina, who fell to Cunningham last February, will come face-to-face with former world amateur champion Alekseev: “He is a tough guy,” Licina said. “But the fact that I will be fighting in front of my home fans in Frankfurt will give me a big boost. I am sure I will beat him and become the new European cruiserweight champion.”
J.G Barrington – New York
IBF Cruiserweight title: Steve Cunningham – UD – Enad Licina [118-110, 117-111, 115-113]
Notes – Philadelphian boxer Cunningham retains his IBF strap in his first defence with a unanimous points win. Licina was Cunningham’s mandatory challenger.
WBO Super Flyweight title: Omar Navaez – UD – Victor Zaleta [120-107, 120-107, 119-108]
Notes – Navaez extends his unbeaten run to 33 wins with 19 knockout victories within that period with his decision triumph over Zaleta. It was his first defence of WBO’s version of the Super Flyweight belt.
WBC Minimumweight title: Kazuto Ioka – 5Rd TKO – Oleydong Sithsanerchai
Notes – Ioka becomes a world champion at 21-years-old and after just seven fights. Thailand champion Sithsanerchai was dropped in both the second and fifth round.
British Lightweight title: Anthony Crolla – 9Rd TKO – John Watson
Notes – Crolla picked up the vacant Lonsdale belt in a thrilling fight with Watson. Crolla was a late replacement when Gavin Rees, who was initially scheduled to box, had to withdraw due to injury.
Interim WBA Cruiserweight title: Yoan Pablo Hernandez – 7Rd TKO – Steve Herelius
Notes – Herelius was floored twice in the seventh round before the fight was eventually stopped by referee Steve Smoger.
Interim WBA Minimumweight title: Sammy Gutierrez – 6Rd TKO – Renan Trongco
Notes – Gutierrez overcame getting knocked down in the first round to secure an early finish after referee Anibal Andrade called a halt to proceedings when Trongco was deemed unable to defend himself while being pummeled against the ropes.
IBF Heavyweight title eliminator: Eddie Chambers – UD – Derek Rossy [98-92, 98-92, 97-93]
Notes – Pittsburgh-born Chambers records second victory over Rossy, interrupting a seven-fight win run from the New-Yorker.
Light Welterweight: Marco Antonio Barrera – 2Rd TKO – Jose Arias
Notes – Ring legend Barrera dropped Arias in both rounds.
Light Heavyweight: Arthur Abraham – 2Rd TKO – Stjepan Bozic
Notes – Abraham took the fight as a ‘tune-up’ for his upcoming Super Six Classic semi-final against Andre Ward but didn’t get to test himself much as Bozic was unable to continue after injuring his left mitt.