by Mark Lovell: Alexander Dimitrenko retained his EBU European title with a clear but unconvincing victory over Michael Sprott in Hamburg on Saturday night. The fight was the main event in the Universum-promoted night which also featured top heavyweights Dennis Botysov and Juan Carlos Gomez.
Both fighters came into the ring in good shape, but it was Dimitrenko who set the pace early, using his taller stature to his advantage by establishing his jab. In fourth round, however, Sprott had managed to find his way inside to land heavy hooks to the head and cause a cut under the larger man’s eye – the Englishman continued to work hard in the middle rounds, having the upper hand in the sixth and seventh rounds.
By the nineth Dimitrenko increased his workrate and started to dominate. The Russian-born German reestablished his jab and distance as well as landing uppercuts when Sprott came barrelling in. Increasingly desperate and tiring, Sprott landed a heavy low blow in the eighth and started to push and trip Dimitrenko when clinching. Twice Sprott was deducted points for tripping Dimitrenko and although the last four rounds went to the local fighter, Sprott still managed to land a number of heavy shots per round. The judges scored the bout 117-111, 119-108, 116-111 to Dimitrenko. This writer scored it 116-112 to Dimitrenko, discounting the second deducted point for Sprott.
In a fight most expected him to win easily Dimitrenko was smothered effectively by Sprott, whose record of 36-17-1 (including Saturday’s loss) does not represent his quality. While Dimitrenko (improving to 32-1) will likely soon challenge for a world title, many will see his performance on Saturday night was one of a European-level fighter, no more – Sprott’s performance showed he can continue to compete at this level, although for how long is to be seen. He would nonetheless provide stiff opposition for the young British heavyweights Price and Fury, should they choose to further their domestic credentials.
On the undercard, Darnell “Ding-A-Ling Man“ Wilson caused a huge upset by winning a mixed decision victory over former Klitschko challenger and WBC cruiseweight king Juan Carlos Gomez. Wilson, coming off a run of six losses (albeit to good opponents) had to overcame a five inch size and reach disadvantage and was the more aggressive fighter. While Gomez relied on his jab throughout the fight, Wilson continually lunged forwards, working the head and body. The Cuban-born Gomez, now living in Hamburg, had a comfortable points lead in the first half of the bout and was seemingly content to wear Wilson down; the Ding-A-Ling man, however, never tired and continued to swing. Hard haymakers tagged Gomez, 38, in the tenth and eleventh rounds and the American (who celebrated his 37th birthday two days earlier) finished the fight the stronger. The judges to award him a 96-94, 96-94, 95-95 victory. Gomez, who fell to 49-3, claimed an arm injury post-fight but was quick to congratulate his opponent.
Also on the undercard was much-touted heavyweight Dennis Boytsov, who stopped an over-matched Matthew Greer (14-7) in the sixth. Boytsov, coming off an injury-related pause, dominated in a fight which should have been stopped rounds earlier. Boytsov (who at 25 was nine years younger than his opponent) looked sharp, punching from angles and landing at will. One sensed that Boytsov prolonged the fight to blow out some cobwebs, as it seemed he could have finished the Grier when he wanted – as it was, the referee called it off in the sixth with Grier not offering any punches and bleeding heavily. Boytsov improved to 29-0.
Cruiserweight Rakhim Chakhkiev (10-0-0) was on top the whole fight against Michael Simms (21-15-2), knocking the veteran American down twice before scoring a fourth round KO.
Ina Menzer UD 8 Ela Nunez