Sebastian Sylvester stops Asikainen to win back European middleweight title, in-form Larsen outclasses Velazco

Sebastian Sylvester clinched a dramatic 11th-round TKO-victory over Amin Asikainen to reclaim the European middleweight belt on Saturday night. It was in June 2006 that the unbeaten Finn had surprisingly stopped the German in the eighth round of their meeting in Hannover. But some 385 days and 11 hard-fought rounds later, the Hurricane eventually restored his pride. He sent Asikainen to the canvas three times, first in the seventh with a left hook and then again in the penultimate round when two thunderous rights connected. "I can´t believe it," the newly-crowded champion enthused afterwards. "It was a tough bout. But I never stopped believing in myself. I learned from my mistakes last year and stuck to my game plan. It feels great.."

It was a close encounter from the first bell on, with Asikainen getting the better off his opponent early. He even knocked the German down at the end of round one. "I was a bit overconfident afterwards," Asikainen admitted. "It was a very hard fight. I was not careful enough and his shots were well-placed."

As the fight went on, Sylvester made good use of his speed and punching power to land numerous shots, but Asikainen remained dangerous, especially from close range. "Sebastian simply had to wait for his chance," coach Hartmut Schroeder lauded. "We knew it would come in the later rounds. Sebastian has strong legs and can punch very hard."

Sylvester rocked the building - and his opponent - in the seventh when a crisp left hook sent Asikainen down. Four rounds later, it was a right that dusted the Finn for a second time. He scrambled back to his feet but found himself in the dust straight away follow another right, which prompted the referee to call the bout to a halt. "Sebastian dominated Asikainen late in the fight," manager Winfried Spiering praised. "We are very pleased with his performance. We have very high goals with him."

On the undercard, former European super-middleweight champion Mads Larsen continued his impressive comeback run with a unanimous points victory over experienced veteran Hector Javier Velazco. Fighting for only the second time after a three-and-a-half-year break, Larsen used his superior boxing skills to keep the Argentine at bay throughout. "I am very happy. It was a good fight," the 34-year-old stated afterwards. "Just two or three more months and I will be as strong as I was before."

After a tentative opening, Larsen dominated the full eight rounds. He controlled the bout with his strong right hand before also starting to make impact with occasional southpaw lefts in the later rounds. He was ahead 80-73, 79-73 and 77-75 on the scorecards. "It was a strong performance by Mads considering he has been out of the ring for such a long time," manager Wilfried Sauerland lauded. "His right hand is impressive and will make a lot of things happen." Sauerland revealed the Danish star should be in for a European or world title fight by the end of the year or early in 2008. And coach Ulli Wegner praised: "He came to Germany to become world champion and we will help him to accomplish his goal. Mads did extremely well against Velazco. He is such a skilled and intelligent boxer. There are great things ahead for him."

Also on the undercard, Alexander Frenkel cruised to an uncontested points victory over Pavol Polakovic in what spelled his first-ever live appearance on national German TV. Meanwhile, German heavyweight Timo Hoffman dropped a unanimous points decision against Timor Ibragimov, while Yoan Pablo Hernandez continued his winning streak with a first-round KO-victory over Thomas Hansvoll. René Dettweiler also stopped Valery Semishkur in less than three minutes (TKO 1).

Sylvester photos:

Larsen photos:

Article posted on 24.06.2007

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