From Russia With Gloves

One of the main reasons that Eastern Europe has produced so many talented fighters is because they have deep amateur boxing programs, which are very well run. The same goes for Cuba as well. There is a reason these countries keep producing many talented fighters and various world champions, such as the Klitschkos, Gennady Golovkin, Sergey Kovalev and Vasyl Lomanchenko. They all had to face very tough competition in the amateur ranks before achieving stardom professionally. They learned and honed their skills under the exacting demands placed on them by very knowledgeable and highly respected boxing coaches.

However, upon closer inspection, Russia and the other Eastern European countries are really not so different from the United States, England, the Ukraine, Mexico and Canada when it comes to producing talented boxers. Right now, we are only seeing the cream of the crop of what every country has to offer in terms of top-flight boxing talent. Like many other countries, Russia has lots of boxers at all different talent levels; and like most countries many of their pugilists are B level fighters.

While watching an entire card of boxing that featured Alexander Povetkin fighting Mariusz Wach of Poland, I noticed that the best Eastern European fighters possess very good technical skills, which, they learned from their amateur programs and professional coaches. However, their amateur programs produce some middling fighters as well. Some of their fighters have the technical skills, power and inner qualities to go all the way to the top of their divisions. However, not every Russian fighter is a world-beater.

Russia also produces fighters that have a decided lack of the proper skills and qualities ñ letís call them B1 level fighters ñ necessary to get to the top and stay there. These fighters may do well for a short time but then fall back to earth again when they face technically skilled boxers. B and B1 level fighters suffer from an acute lack of technical skills. They try to compensate for this lack of technical proficiency by lying on the ropes, absorbing unnecessary punishment; hoping their opponents will eventually tire out. That is a very dangerous and ultimately self-defeating way to box. Why absorb punishment if you donít have to? It shortens your overall ring career and your life as well. Lying on the ropes gets fighters in trouble.

All fighters have various strengths and weaknesses. The good fighters have all of the weapons necessary to succeed and are ready to use them in any and all situations. By that I mean, any fight could turn into a war, and you have to be prepared for that. For boxers to be successful they must have guts, stamina, skills and a game plan. They also must pay strict attention to their trainer and enter the ring with a superior strategy and stick to that strategy for the entire fight.

The Russian fight card that I attended in Kazan, Russia at the Tatneft Arena was a very good show that was supported by the fans.  The feature match of the evening pitted 6í2î Russian Alexander Povetkin defending his WBC Silver heavyweight title against the 6í7î Pole Mariusz Wach. Povetkin won just about every round but Wach looked old, tired, out of shape and indifferent. The rest of the card had some very exciting fights. WBA cruiserweight king Denis Lebedev scored a TKO win over Lateef Kayode in rounds.

The fighter that impressed me most was a cruiserweight from Nigeria, now living in the United States, named Olanrewaju Duradola. He goes by the first name of Larry. He is 35 years old with a solid record of 22-2 with 20 KOís to his credit. He faced a young Russian knockout specialist named Dmitry Kudryashov, who sported an impressive record of 18-0 with 28 knockouts. Kudryashov was expected to win by knockout. The problem is no one told Duradola about that. The Nigerian native came out like a house on fire to score a dramatic upset win with a second round TKO, to capture the vacant WBC Silver cruiserweight crown. You will be hearing more from this young man in the months ahead. All in all, it was an enjoyable night of boxing.

- Lennox