PRAGUE – A fully packed Kralovka Arena in Prague proved to be a venue for some stellar boxing spectacle this past Saturday. All in all, ten fights were scheduled – and each had its own, unique script. Among those who impressed the most were Stepan Horvath (18-5-0, 8 KOs), Josef Zahradnik (8-0-0, 4 KOs), Lucie Sedlackova (9-0-1, 4 KOs) and Fabiana Bytyqi (10-0-0, 3 KOs), but unfortunately, their stellar fights had no such support from the crowd as the planned visit of American boxing legend Floyd Mayweather eventually failed to materialize.
The card itself was indeed captivating, but that bloke known as Floyd Mayweather simply wouldn’t turn up for the show. “According to our contract, he was scheduled to arrive at the arena shortly after ten o’clock in the evening, but in reality, he was just lifting off from the London airport at that time,” admitted the Qwert Boxing promoter Milos Vesely after the card.
He eventually introduced the American boxing legend to a handful of fans at an after party at the Lavka club… but let’s forget Floyd for now and head back to Kralovka Arena, as there was some great boxing action going on.
First, there were two unanimous decision wins as Filip Minovsky (1-0-0, 0 KOs) beat Vojtech Konticik (2-4-0, 1 KOs) and Marko Calic (3-0-0, 1 KOs) prevailed over the Slovak Vladimir Idranyi (6-20-2, 3 KOs). The fight with Konticik proved to be the first and also the last fight for Minovsky among the professionals, whereas Calic’s clash against Idranyi featured some great fighting spirit from the Prievidza fighter, who managed to survive a knockdown and eventually forced the fight to go to the scorecards.
Pavel Sour (3-0-0, 2 KOs) had to go through similar struggles in his fight with the Croat Ante Verunica (3-4-1, 1 KOs). After round one, the four-time Czech amateur champion would find himself in more and more trouble and as such had to use all of his skills to battle out a four-round unanimous decision victory. However, he’s bound to take some time off boxing for now as he had broken his little finger on his right hand in the fight.
After Sour, it was the Moroccan Mohammed Rabii’s (1-0-0, 1 KOs) turn to enter the ring, and the 23-year old Casablanca native surely gave the local fans some answer as to why he’d been chosen the best WSB fighter in 2015 and won the amateur world title in the same year as well as the bronze medal at the Rio Olympics, knocking his Hungarian opponent Laszlo Kovacs (11-7, 5 KOs) out with a single punch.
Returning from an injury, the German Adam Deines (10-0-1, 5 KOs) also registered a knockout victory, finishing the Georgian Zura Mekereshvili (19-8-0, 15 KOs) off in two rounds. It seems that fighting on Czech soil is proving to be a success for the Magdeburg fighter, who also knocked out Hungarian Zsolt Dudas in the same round in Pilsen last year.
Following these fights came the title bouts. The first of them featured the Usti fighter Fabiana Bytyqi (10-0-0, 3 KOs) against the dangerous Russian “Sphinx” Evgeniya Zablotskaya (8-14-0, 4 KOs). The 21-year old Czech, however, showed some great tactical skills and beat her seventeen years older opponent by unanimous decision (98-92, 98-92 and 99-93). The victory also brought Bytyqi the WBO European minimumweight title.
“She was really tough. I could feel her punches, so it definitely wasn’t a walk in the park. But nothing a girl like me couldn’t handle too,“ smiled the WBC youth champion nicknamed „The Fist of Angel“.
Next up was the Czech light welterweight title fight between the home challenger Josef Zahradnik (8-0-0, 4 KOs) and the champion Michal Dufek (22-15-1, 16 KOs). It was a clash of tactical maturity against a fearless warrior’s heart. In the end, it was Zahradnik who exited the ring as the victor and as such moved closer to a possible fight with his sparring partner from the QWERT Boxing stable Stepan Horvath, whose title belt is slowly but surely getting in his sights.
Working in pairs is also the pattern for the girls that are currently under the tutelage of Lukas Konecny in the SES Team Czech Boxing stable. Both of them were in action in Prague too, but contrary to Fabiana Bytyqi, her stablemate Lucie Sedlackova (9-0-1, 4 KOs) had an even tougher opponent to deal with.
The Austrian Doris Koehler (12-16-2, 5 KOs) showed tremendous portion of durability, toughness and warrior’s heart, for otherwise, her 41-year old body surely wouldn’t be able to withstand the pressure of her opponent until the very last bell of the fight. The nineteen years younger Sedlackova, however, dominated the action in the ring, showing further improvements and eventually taking a clear-cut unanimous decision win (100-89, 100-89 and 100-88).
„It was a tough test for me. Right now, I need to take some rest as I’m really tired. I would like to thank the fans for their support,“ said Sedlackova after another successful title defense to a packed Kralovka Arena that rewarded her efforts with a very warm and deserved applause.
By contrast, the penultimate bout of the evening featuring heavyweights Tom Schwarz (18-0-0, 11 KOs) and Ivica Bacurin (26-11-1, 15 KOs) proved to be both disappointing and doubtful. Just as his German countryman Deines, Schwarz too was coming off an injury break, but he often looked fairly careless as to what was actually happening in the ring.
The 22-year old fighter is maybe aiming to reach the uppermost echelons of the heavyweight division, but here he showed a very poor performance that – if not for the home soil, a relatively easy first part of the fight (and also an erroneous referee) – wouldn’t definitely have brought him an eight-round unanimous decision win. A win both close and undeserved, according to many observers. Simply put, one had expected a lot more from the WBO and WBC youth champion.
On the other hand, the mission of Stepan Horvath (18-5-0, 8 KOs) ended in a much convincing success. Despite a long-hour wait for the eventually failed arrival of Floyd Mayweather, he produced an excellent effort against the tough German Arthur Hermann (17-3-0, 13 KOs). The reward came in round eight, where he put his opponent to a brief standing sleep with a crushing uppercut and thus forced the referee Frank Michael Maass to wave the Kazakhstan native off.
„I was under enormous pressure, so I’m happy I made it. Thank you everyone,“ said an almost tearful Horvath after giving the crowd another victory dance of his own. He then proceeded to give a warm hug to both his team and parents. With this victory, the 34-year old native of Karez sends a clear message to the UK’s Liam Smith and Liam Williams that he’s ready to take on the winner of their April bout and grab their WBO world championship belt.
A message that is both strong and clear, for his efforts in the Kralovka Arena were surely good enough to catch the eye of a certain undefeated American boxing king, who unfortunately failed to attend the show due to his shopping spree in London and jet issues…