During much of the past few years Eastern fighters have emerged from being a rather niche section of the boxing community to being the dominant force, ignore what HBO might want to tell you, the USA is no longer the centre of the boxing universe. Instead it appears Eastern Europe is the place to be, giving rise to more and more top fighters, basically ruling the Heavyweight and Cruiserweight divisions at the moment. With the emergence of the Eastern block fighters the rise of former Amateur stars from the soviet bloc has really shaken up boxing and in at rapid speed. The meteoric ascension up the rankings of former Kazakh Olympian Beibut Shumenov seemed to be a surprise to everyone, though he was just swiftly going about his business through 2008 and 2009 before getting a shot at the WBA Light Heavyweight title in just his 9th fight. It was the rise of Shumenov that really showed how a fighter could be fast tracked and although he lost, controversially in his attempt to take title from Gabriel Campillo he had made boxing fans take note.
In a rematch with Campillo in 2010 Shumenov, fighting in just his 10th contest managed to become the champion via a hugely disputed split decision. Although it seemed Campillo had controlled the fight using speed and movement to make the powerful and hard working Shumenov look rather silly 2 of the judges managed to score the fight for Shumenov who set the record for the fewest fights to become a Light Heavyweight title holder. Since January when the 2nd bout with Campillo was fought Shumenov has been out of the ring but now makes his long awaited first defence. Though many who saw the 2nd Campillo bout called for a 3rd may be disappointed to find that it’s not Campillo standing in the other corner, but rather another fighter who comes from the east. The #6 Ranked (Ring Magazine) Ukrainian fighter Viacheslav Uzelkov will be in the opposite corner, and the two meet next weekend in the USA.
Shumenov an out and out aggressive fighter was shown up to be predictable with relatively poor stamina and despite his record of 9-1 (6) he’s not really a world class power puncher. Against Campillo he was raw, sluggish and cut easily on the cheeks due to very prominent cheek bones though notably got through the fight on heart alone after being shaken repeatedly through the fight and grunting as he threw punches almost out on his feet. Against Uzelkov (22-0 (14)) Shumenov is facing a fellow talented amateur but one who is better in almost every single way as a professional. Uzelkov is promoted by K2 East (the Klitschko’s promotional company) who have advised him to take this fight and stop Shumenov, and it’s fair to say that he can.
Uzelkov has been a professional since late 2004 and at 31 has excellent experience and maturity though the key is that he’s been a destructive force with a point to prove since 2006. Of his last 10 bouts 9 have been ended. Those 10 bouts have seen Uzelkov picking up the EE-EU Light Heavyweight belt and then the WBA International belt though it’s worth noting that wins have come against Gabriel Campillo (12-0 entering the bout), Denis Simcic (19-0 entering the bout) and Alejandro Lakatos (who was the only man to survive the distance). Though the names themselves aren’t exactly names to write home about Campillo would become the WBA champion 21 months later whilst Lakatos had twice challenged for the WBO Light Heavyweight title. So they are both very solid victories.
With the fight being held at the Tachi Palace Hotel & Casino, Lemoore, California, away from the power of K2 it’s unlikely that Uzelkov, a much more polished and all-round pro will let Shumenov last the distance. Although suggesting that Shumenov can’t hurt the challenger along the way is foolish, it’s the fact the champion can be caught very easily and is 1-dimensional. Shumenov likes to attack, likes to put everything behind a shot and likes to come forward, against the light punching Campillo he managed to get a gift decision, against the heavy handed Ukrainian he won’t get the chance to be bailed out by the judges.
Uzelkov in the 7th