Gutnecht Edges Uzelkov in EBU Lightheavy Title Defense

by Pavel Yakovlev: In defense of his EBU light heavyweight title, Eduard Gutnecht won a close, hard fought decision over Vyacheslav Uzelkov. The scorecards were unanimous at 115-114, 116-112, and 117-111. As a result of the win, Gutnecht improves to 23-1 (9 KO’s), while Uzelkov falls to 25-2 (16 KO’s). This writer favored Gutnecht, 115-114.

The tide of combat changed hands several times during the bout. After losing the opening round to his stronger, more aggressive opponent, Gutnecht won the second, third and fourth with superior boxing, effective footwork, tight defense, and sharp punching to the head. Although Uzelkov fought well, constantly pressing the action with his aggressive, bobbing-and-weaving attack, he seemed over-focused on projecting maximum power into his wide, sweeping left hooks and overhand rights, which Gutnecht almost always blocked or slipped.

In the fifth, Uzelkov took control of the action. For the first time, he stopped trying to power punch, relying instead on connecting quickly and consistently with light, accurate blows. Uzelkov won the fifth, sixth, seventh, and eighth by using these tactics. Gutnecht seemed confused about how to elude Uzelkov’s shots, and consequently punched less, retreated, and ran to escape his foe’s steady attack. By the end of the eighth, Gutnecht was bruised under both eyes and appeared headed toward certain defeat.

But in the ninth, the tide swung back in favor of Gutnecht, who reversed strategy and carried the fight to Uzelkov. Now stepping forward and punching more, Gutnecht became the aggressor and connected with numerous accurate blows to the head. Uzelkov defended well, but for the first time, he looked fatigued, his punches lost steam, and he constantly backpedalled to avoid punishment. Gutnecht took the tenth in similar manner, scoring with jabs and occasional rights, keeping Uzelkov on the run. In the eleventh, Gutnecht increased his dominance by mixing hard body punches with sharp-shooting to the head of his fatigued opponent. The final round was fought on even terms, as Uzelkov launched a desperate rally, possibly landing more blows than his foe. But the tired Uzelkov’s punches lacked snap and power at this point, and Gutnecht, despite landing fewer shots, kept the round on even terms by connecting with the cleaner, crisper punches as the bout drew to a close.

In this writer’s view, the match was much closer than suggested by two of the scorecards. Arguably, the bout could have been scored a draw. Uzelkov seemed to have the fight won during the middle rounds, but drained his energy in pressing the attack, and thus had little strength left to repel Gutnecht’s late round rally.

Gutnecht (WBC #4, WBA #8, WBO #5, IBF #13), is a native of Kazakhstan who fights out of Germany. Uzelkov (WBC #9, WBA #5, WBO #13, IBF #14), who is known as “Steel Power,” hails from Ukraine. Both boxers weighed 174 ¾ lbs.

Article posted on 05.02.2012

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