This week’s schedule is packed so tight with cruiserweight bouts that some good ones will probably be overlooked. Tonight’s card in Moscow which was supposed to be headlined by the heavyweight showdown between Deontay Wilder and Alexander Povetkin will go on with three cruiserweight bouts now headlined by Denis Lebedev. Beibut Shumenov will fight Junior Wright in Las Vegas with the WBA title at stake. There were two other interesting fights in the same weight class preceding the mainstream shows that deserve to be mentioned and were well worth watching.
Yunier Dorticos (21-0) TKOed Youri Kalenga (22-2) and claimed the Interim WBA World cruiserweight title at the Palais des Sports in Paris, France. This was the semifinal of the WBA tournament and Dorticos qualified for the WBA title fight. His opponent will become clear after the winner of Lebedev-Ramirez fights the winner of Shumenov-Wright.
Yunier Dorticos is yet another Cuban ex-amateur who took the trip to Miami. He was always second as an amateur in the national championships and did not shine internationally but has done well so far at the pro ranks. It seems the Cuban “B” team has moved to Miami to represent the Cuban school on the prize ring. Dorticos is a typical Cuban school graduate with thorough boxing tutelage. He used a full array of punches to break down a very durable opponent. His series of right uppercuts that knocked down Kalenga in the 2nd round drew a comparison with the knockdown Luis Ortiz scored against Bryant Jennings. Kalenga showed tremendous punch resistance and made it to the 10th round when the referee stopped the fight. The Congolese boxer was on his feet but looked as if he had gone through a meat grinder.
Another intriguing contest took place in Riga, Latvia. Local hero Mairis Briedis (20-0) overcame hard-hitting Olanrevaju Durodola (22-3) from Abuja, Nigeria and took his WBC silver cruiserweight title.
Durodola had scored a shocking second round TKO against Dmitriy Kudryashov in his previous fight. The Russian prospect started as a huge favorite and wobbled the Nigerian in the first round hurting him badly but his granite chin held him up. Durodola recovered and started strong in the second round landing long range hooks at will. The stunned Kudryashov did not defend himself and was saved from further punishment by the ref.
Durodola started in the same fashion against Briedis and landed his long range power shots easily in the first two rounds. He did not set up his bombs; he just used his exceptionally long reach to land unceremoniously on the befuddled Latvian boxer who probably thought he safely was out of range. Briedis was shaken but made some adjustments in the 3rd when he used longer strides and side-steps and slipped from the knees to land counters. He turned the tide in the beginning of the 4th when he used Durordola’s tactics against him.
Breidis jumped on his opponent from the opening bell and unloaded unceremonious punishment on the startled Nigerian who thought he was cruising to an easy win. The sharp and short hooks and uppercuts pushed Durodola against the ropes and his defense gave in at close range. Briedis stormed the African whose chin was too durable for his own good. Durodola weathered the storm without going down but he was not the same fighter anymore. He slowed down and his punch output plummeted. His shots no longer hit the target at will. He was groggy round after round and finally went down in the 6th. Briedis did the hard part; he only had to pace himself so that he did not punch himself out hitting the bulletproof head. Groggy and disoriented, Durodola relied only on his chin. His punch resistance prolonged the punishment and increased the damage. Finally the ref interfered and waved the fight off at the end of the 9th round.