Eastman Defends Against Tatevosyan Friday Night

29.01.04 - By Elliot Worsell: British, Commonwealth and European middleweight champion Howard Eastman is on European duty Friday night (January 30) in Dagenham, as he defends his title against world class Russian Sergey Tatevosyan in a potential banana skin affair for the respected champion.

31 year old Tatevosyan 20-3 (13 KO’s), a tough, rugged southpaw with world class amateur pedigree, has been drafted in as a late replacement after original opponent Jorge Sendra pulled out of the contest with an injury. Spaniard Sendra was Eastman’s number one contender for the European throne, but in Tatevosyan, it would appear the eccentric Battersea puncher has been given a far sterner test.

With noteworthy fights in the pipeline for 33-year-old Eastman, a scrap with a top ten-ranked Russian lefty can hardly be called a ticking over contest. Tatevosyan has claimed the scalps of recognised names Armand Kranjc, the well-schooled former WBO champion, James Obede Toney, and Yuri Tsarenko and has secured lofty status with the main world governing bodies.

The stunning 7th round stoppage of Sweden’s Kranjc effectively revitalised the career of Tatevosyan. After dropping point’s losses to world class Russian stylist Roman Karmazin, and in a Russian Middleweight title fight to Aslanbek Kodzoev, Tatevosyan was verging on eastern European journeyman fodder. However, by blasting out the capable Kranjc in 7 rounds, Tatevosyan elevated through the main governing bodies’ rankings, and was rewarded with a top 5 world ranking in the well regarded ‘Ring Magazine’.

If Eastman’s handlers were looking for a world class opponent who can test Howard in defence of his coveted European crown, Tatevosyan it would appear fits the bill.

The ever-engaging Eastman is a man in demand at the moment. In demand of big, high profile title fights. But is equally aware, that to achieve these title opportunities he has to continue beating top class opposition to maintain his ranking, and keep the Bernard Hopkins spotlight near him. A win over Sendra, although obviously not a formality, would have just been looked upon as a routine defence against a game challenger, nothing more, nothing less. A win over the more experienced and tested Tatevosyan however, will tell the rest of the middleweight pack a lot more about the class and talent of Howard Eastman.

Now is the time for Eastman too. At 33 years of age, and with one failed world title bid already behind him, the charismatic Guyana born talent knows he’s one loss away from obscurity. With a 6-month layoff, by virtue of recurring injury, well and truly behind him, Eastman knows he needs to put in a world-class performance against Tatevosyan to keep the gold gleam on his trademark facial hair.

Last time out in Norwich (July 2003) Eastman methodically broke the will and heart of veteran Frenchman Hassine Cherifi in 8 rounds, but will know that the younger, fresher, and arguably more ambitious Tatevosyan will present a different proposition altogether. As with all Russian fighters, irrespective of how technically good they are, they will be cast out of iron and able to soak up punishment like blotting paper. Of course there is one or two exceptions, but on the whole that is the case, and most certainly this applies to Tatevosyan, who has never been floored as a professional and is known for his solid chin and heart.

The southpaw factor is also something worth considering. Tatevosyan is a compact lefty, who likes to fire straight, heavy shots out of the southpaw stance. Many believe that Howard Eastman has problems with the southpaw stance, and that it takes him a few rounds to suss out the awkward style. This was the case against the last left-handed opponent Eastman fought, Scott Dann. The Plymouth man was stopped in 3 rounds impressively by Eastman, but not before giving Howard one or two problems in the first two rounds and tagging the heavy handed champion on many occasions.

Think back to July 2000 also, when another Russian southpaw Ahmet Dottuev was stopped in 4 rounds by Eastman, but was able to land his straight lefts down the pipe with regularity in the first couple of rounds.

Dann and Dottuev are competent and well-schooled southpaws; Tatevosyan on the other hand is seemingly a cut above.

This is not some straightforward, face first, blood seeping out of every hole in his body type Russian. Tatevosyan was a classy amateur and compiled 155 wins in 175 contests in vest and headgear. In all likelihood, the guy can box a bit as well as mix it in close with the teak tough champion.

From Howard Eastman, we need to see him shift through the gears and make some noise with this title defence. Eastman is at the stage now where every performance he has needs to be stamped across the back pages of newspapers and plastered up on Bernard Hopkins’ radar. Eastman needs to be noticed and needs to shine in these types of defences. With arch rival Hopkins nearing 40 years old, and looking purely for big money pay per view clashes, Eastman has to put in showing’s that draw the attention of the supreme champion.

Against Tatevosyan, Eastman has the type of opponent that in effect should bring out the best in the established titleholder. Against Cherifi he cruised, against Dann he crawled his way into the fight, against Ansoula, Beardsley and Tendil, Eastman hardly broke sweat. On Friday night, Eastman will be faced with a hungry, classy operator looking to become European champion, and Howard will have to be at his very best to hang onto his title and WBC ranking.

Tatevosyan had a WBC International fight scheduled for February 7 in his native Russia, so his shape and fitness will not be a problem. This guy will be coming to Dagenham to win, and if Howard Eastman stutters and chokes through his now infamous ‘gears’, he could have his fists full. If Eastman has these seemingly ‘mystery gears’ he can revert to, now is the time, at 33 years of age, to show them.

Despite Tatevosyan offering Eastman his hardest test since facing William Joppy in Vegas 2 years ago, I still believe the champion is a notch above this kind of level, and will be forced to show this form against the game Russian. Eastman’s pet right hand will be the key to him winning this fight. Tatevosyan’s southpaw stance can be neutralised by Eastman’s constant use of the straight right cross, and with 34 stoppage wins from 38 contests, the self proclaimed ‘Battersea Bomber’ can certainly dig with that shot.

Eastman will take a few rounds to solve the southpaw style of Tatevosyan before settling down to work, and breaking the Russian challenger up with solid rights and body shots, for a tough, competitive points victory. A stoppage would be an added bonus, but will take some achieving. Howard’s a grinding down puncher, by no means an explosive one-shot hitter. Tatevosyan should know enough to survive and remain dangerous throughout.

Article posted on 29.01.2004

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