By Michael Montero
November 13th, 2011
Los Angeles, CA
The Matadors edged out their season opener against the Arlans (of Kazakhstan) in front of a lively home crowd at the Music Box Theater in Hollywood Sunday night by winning three of the five bouts on the card. Each bout had plenty of action and all but one was very close (two being decided by split decision). It was a great start to the second season of the World Series of Boxing. Here’s the breakdown.
Photo: Gregory Frick
Bout 1: lightweights
Adlet Yegizekov (Astana) SD Eric Fowler (LA)
Houston native Eric Fowler started quickly with a fierce body attack from the opening bell, but Yegizekov made an adjustment in the second round and began scoring with his straighter punches. By the third round, the Kazakhstani was timing his opponent and controlling the distance with his jab. Fowler, growing increasingly frustrated, tried mauling his opponent on the inside but was repeatedly tied up. In the closing seconds of the third, Yegizekov trapped Fowler in the corner and laded a huge body shot to the solar plexus, then followed up with a flush shot to the chin. Fowler was hurt, but held on. Throughout the fourth and fifth, the fight got sloppy as both men took turns posing, talking trash and winging wild shots. In the end, Yegizekov got the better of it and earned the split decision. Two judges saw it 48-47 for Yegizekov, one had it 48-47 for Fowler.
Photo: Gregory Frick
Bout 2: middleweights
Kanat Slam (Astana) TKO4 Jeffrey Camp (LA)
The experience level of the two fighters was the difference here; as Arlan’s middleweight Kanat Slam had over two hundred amateur bouts on his resume to his opponent’s twenty-five. Round after round Slam backed Camp into the ropes and teed off with flurries to the body, shoulders and head. Camp covered up well and showed plenty of heart, but he just couldn’t get off consistently and he repeatedly backed into the ropes. The ref came close to stopping the contest a few times, but Camp (of Dayton, Ohio) always fought back so the fight was allowed to continue. Finally in the fourth, the ref had no choice to stop it as Slam scored with over a dozen unanswered punches after trapping his opponent in the corner. It went in the books as a fourth round TKO for Slam, a native of China.
Bout 3: light heavyweights
Vyacheslav “Slava” Shabransky (LA) UD Ramzjon Ahmedov (Astana)
The Matadors Shabransky (of Ukraine) and the Arlans Ahmedov (of Uzbekistan) are both very experienced, having over two hundred amateur bouts each. “Sasha” Shabransky is a three-time Ukrainian national champion and Ahmedov is a three-time Uzbekistani national champion. The vast experience and skill set showed as both men circled, pivoted and threw accurate punches with bad intentions. In the closing seconds of the third round, Ahmedov landed a big shot on the inside that opened a cut over Sasha’s left eye. In the later rounds, he began lunging inside and smothering Shabransky’s power. A head butt in the final round opened another cut on Sasha’s face; this one on his right cheek. Both men traded shots until after the final bell, having to be separated by the ref. In the end, Sasha seemed to get the better of the action over the majority of the fight and the judges agreed. The final scores were 49-46 three times.
Bout 4: heavyweights
Javier Torres (LA) UD Doszhan Ospanov (Astana)
The big boys made for an entertaining fight that could’ve gone either way, as both men made adjustments and had their moments throughout. Torres worked the body and tried to intimidate his opponent with some rough stuff on the inside, while Ospanov picked his spots and boxed from the outside. By the third round, Ospanov was visibly tired and his work rate was dropping. By the fifth, he was dead tired but Torres by too tired himself to do anything about it. Torres, from nearby Pico Rivera, California, tried for the KO shot but Ospanov was able to stay away. In the end, it went down as a split decision win for Javier “The Monster” Torres. Two judges saw it for the Matador heavyweight with scores of 49-46 and 48-47, while one judge had it 50-45 for Ospanov.
Bout 5: bantamweights
Rau’Shee Warren (LA) UD Khabibulla Ismail-Akhunov (Astana)
The final bout of the night featured Cincinnati native Warren against nineteen year old Ismail-Akhunov, who showed no fear against his older and more experienced opponent. “Baby Pit” Warren clearly won the first two rounds with beautiful timing and counterpunching, but the fight changed in the third. The Arlans bantamweight landed a flurry that stunned Warren, who almost fell through the ropes. From that moment through the end of the fourth round, Ismail-Akhunov pressed the fight and landed the cleaner shots. In the fifth and final round, Warren made a technical adjustment and began to hold on the inside as soon as his opponent would attack. The tactic worked, as the pace slowed and Warren clearly took the round. The judges scored it 48-47 twice and 49-46 – all for Baby Pit, who will compete in his third Olympics next year in London.
All in all it was a very entertaining night of boxing that had the crowd buzzing throughout. The Los Angeles Matadors are the only American-based team in the World Series of Boxing this year and they are representing well. Next up for LA is a match against the Milano Thunder on Saturday, November 19th. They’ll see the Astana Arlans again in January.
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