When he realized that he had really done it again, former heavyweight champion Ruslan Chagaev went down to his knees on Sunday night at Ahmat Arena in Grozny, Russia. It was legendary Michael Buffer who announced Chagaev’s close but well deserved majority decision win (115:113, 115:113, 114:114) over Fres Oquendo which earned the 35-year-old Uzbek the WBA heavyweight championship for the second time in his career.
No other but Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov was the first to congratulate Chagaev in the ring. While the fight lasted Kadyrov even took charge as chief second coaching “his” champion in the corner. It was the leader of the Chechen Republic who brought this world title fight to Grozny along with promoter Timur Dugazaev (TEREK Box Event). Accordingly Chagaev thanked the President for all his help and support.
“Words cannot express my gratitude to Ramzan Kadyrov for giving me this opportunity. I also want to thank all people of Grozny, Chechnya, Russia, Uzbekisten, Germany and the whole world. This is one of the greatest moments of my life”, said Chagaev immediately after the fight in the ring.
To get to this moment the former world amateur champion had to work his way through twelve tough and close rounds. Chicago based Oquendo showed great stamina – especially given the fact that he arrived in Grozny only 36 hours before the big fight due to personal circumstances. Chagaev started strong and won the first rounds before a cut opened over his left eye and slowed him down.
Oquendo took advantage and managed to steal the middle rounds but Chagaev’s corner with Artur Grigorian and experienced champion coach Fritz Sdunek as cutman managed to stop the bleeding giving Chagaev the chance to bring home the close but clear victory.
In the co-feature “The Black Panther” Juan Carlos Gomez stopped previously unbeaten Goran Delic in the fifth to win the vacant WBA international cruiserweight championship. German heavyweight contender Edmund Gerber came back from a loss to Dereck Chisora with an impressive second-round annihilation of Mexico’s Vicente Sandez to claim the WBC Silver international heavyweight title.
30,000+ fans at sold out Ahmat Arena witnessed a state of the art show. “I have been all over the world and have seen many great shows – but this was the biggest and best event of them all”, said impressed hall-of-fame-referee Stanley Christodoulou. Michael Buffer added, “This show really set new standards. Everybody involved in the promotion did a great job.”