Robert Easter Jr vs Denis Shafikov takes place tonight for the IBF lightweight world title held by Easter.
A close call and a shutout points win may now need to be backed up by a comprehensive or spectacular victory on Friday night for Robert Easter Jr 19-0(14KO’s).
Still fresh, the 26-year old Ohio native will face arguably his toughest test to date when he defends against the mandatory challenger for his IBF Lightweight crown.
Denis Shafikov 38-2-1(20KO’s) is possibly the most deserving challenger in the 135lbs division, having come up short twice before, but never looked out of place at world level, as proven by consistently winning against the best of the rest.
Shafikov has earned a third shot at the same title with a close win over Richard Commey – the same man to push Easter Jr all the way in their clash for the vacant title.
Shafikov is the far shorter of the two, and while he has become adept at making his way inside of his opponents, he has struggled against long opponents in the past.
His only defeats came to the awkward pairing of Miguel Vazquez and Rances Barthélemy, where he struggled mightily in both.
With confidence soaring, Easter Jr will attempt to make a statement early on, but will prove unable to crack the tough guard of Shafikov.
Shafikov can have his moments at mid range, timing his attacks nicely against a champion that may show complacency that comes with his youth.
But after 12 rounds it will be a clear decision in favour of Easter Jr.