By: Sean Crose
IBF light heavyweight champ, and undefeated knockout king Artur Beterbiev, 13-0, defended his belt against the 24-1 Radivoje Kalajdzic Saturday night in a Stockton, California card that was aired live on ESPN. First up on the televised broadcast, the 30-1-2 Jerwin Ancajas defended his IBF super flyweight strap against the 31-7 Ryuichi Funai. The first round was a relatively close affair. The second saw Ancajas going to his man’s body, with both men exchanging fast, solid head shots. The third round had both men engaging in a high octane performance. Ancajas landed well, but Funai was most certainly in the fight.
Ancajas hurt Funai in the fourth, but the game challenger survived the round, and even managed to keep trading punches. To his credit, Funai stayed alive in the fifth – but was taking some sharp punching from the defending champion. The sixth saw Ancajas land one straight head shot after another. At the start of the seventh, the ring doctor wisely stopped the match, as Funai at that point was absorbing much punishment.
Next up, undefeated local lightweight Gabriel Flores, 12-0, faced off against Eduardo Reis, 23-5, in a scheduled six rounder. Flores started strong and looked sharp in the first. Flores came out in the second and ripped Reis’ body. To his credit, Reis showed enough defensive skill to effectively survive the round. It proved to be of little use. An absolutely thunderous left hook put Reis down and ended the night for the lightweight in the seventh.
It was time for the main event. Kalajdzic found Beterbiev going straight at him at the opening bell. He quickly adjusted, and both men took to maneuvering in order to dictate the tempo. Beterbiev began to assert himself in the second. The third round was a slug fest, with Beterbiev taking his man down – but not out – in the final minute. Round four was wild. Both men swung furiously, though Beterbiev was clearly the stronger of the two combatants. Beterbiev started banging away in the fifth. The fight was then smartly halted. Beterbiev improved his record to 13-0, all by stoppage, and was able to successfully hold onto his belt.
The light heavyweight division is now one of the more interesting weight realms in boxing, with all major titles being held by men who might all stack up competitively against one another. After emerging victorious on Saturday, Beterbiev indicated he was ready to collect more of the division’s major titles.