This weekend sees a big weekend of cruiserweight world title action.
Saturday night was to set up to be the biggest test of Deontay Wilder’s short reign as WBC Heavyweight champion of the world. But a positive drug test for mandatory challenger Alexander Povetkin has put a pause to the contest that was set to take place in Moscow, Russia.
The controversy will continue to swirl around the fight as to whether it has been simply postponed or cancelled.
However, the undercard will go on, and the man who will now take up the burden of being the main attraction is a fighter who has faced head on what can happen when an opponent has an illegal substance coursing through their veins.
Denis Lebedev 28-2(21KO’s) was left with a grotesquely swollen right eye after being stopped in 11 rounds by Guillermo Jones.
A positive drugs test for Jones after the contest handed the belt back to Lebedev but it also highlighted the dangers of a fighter entering the ring having taken an illegal substance.
Thankfully the damage suffered to Denis was not as bad as first feared. The only legitimate defeat on the resume of Lebedev came at the hands of Marco Huck via a split decision.
Lebedev has wins over Enzo Maccarinelli (TKO 3), James Toney (UD 12) and Roy Jones Jr (KO 10), while more impressively he has halted both Pawel Kolodziej (KO 2) and Lateef Kayode (TKO 8), while defending on points against Youri Kayembre Kalenga (UD 12).
(Some highlights of Denis Lebedev’s best moments, hat tip ElBingoBoxing):
Now the WBA ‘Super’ Cruiserweight champion will go into a unification clash with IBF ruler Victor Emilio Ramirez 22-2-1(17KO’s).
The Argentinian was handed the title after Yoan Pablo Hernandez was stripped of the belt he won from Steve Cunningham in 2011.
In his homeland he was unable to secure victory in his maiden defence, only drawing with highly respected Jamaican-British warhorse Ovill McKenzie, a shocking result considering that Ramirez held such home advantage.
Ramirez also came a cropper against Huck (L UD 12) as well as an early reverse on his record.
His most impressive wins came against Alexander Alekseev (RTD 9) and Ola Afolabi (UD 12), but given his size – stands 5’11” – and previous performances it seems that he may well be cashing in against the favoured Lebedev.
That is not to say that Ramirez is simply here for the cheque. He is a respected champion with a very awkward style and you have to admire his ambition to come away from home again in the chase of more titles.
But he could easily have taken an easier defence in Argentina, or even taken a rematch with McKenzie for far less money. But the money and the plaudits will come in Europe when it comes to the Cruiserweight division, and a win on Russian soil could set up more money-spinning contests in Moscow.
Both carry power, but Lebedev is certainly the more polished of the two. Ramirez however is unpredictable which could work heavily in his favour as Lebedev struggles to get to grips with the man in front of him.
But the likelihood is that the cleaner work of Lebedev will also prove the more effective. McKenzie landed more than his fair share on the chin of Ramirez, and Ramirez tired down the stretch – unfortunately for Ovill he did likewise.
The two champions have solid whiskers so I do not envision a stoppage either way here.
Ramirez will start the better, but as the precise punches and smart aggression begin to take their toll, Ramirez will become frustrated and he may be at the wrong end of a point deduction or two.
Lebedev will target knockout number 22 in the latter stages but he won’t be able to find it as Ramirez grits his teeth to hear the final bell.
Lebedev sets up a potential rematch with Marco Huck with a unanimous decision win by 5 or 6 clear rounds.
(Image source and credit: ddexpress.info)
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