Doug Fischer

Shumenov stops Santiago in ninth round, retains WBA light heavyweight title

Light heavyweight standout Beibut Shumenov defended his WBA title for the third time with a ninth-round TKO of former title challenger Danny Santiago on Friday at the South Point Hotel & Casino in Las Veags.

Shumenov (12-1, 8 knockouts) hurt Santiago with a two-fisted attack to the head and body at the start of the ninth round, backing the veteran to the ropes where the 27-year-old titleholder continued to pound away until referee Tony Weeks stepped in and waved the bout off 46 seconds into the ninth.

Santiago (31-5-1, 19 KOs) managed to stay on his feet and keep his hands up while Shumenov wailed away but the 38-year-old Bronx native did not punch back and he was visibly rocked more than a few times during the sudden onslaught.

Prior to the stoppage, Santiago, who was stopped by former champs Zsolt Erdei and Antonio Tarver in 2007, was hanging tough with Shumenov, a 6-foot-2 physical specimen with brute strength. Despite bad bruising under both eyes, the game Puerto Rican walked forward and counter punched effectively in the middle rounds of the Telefutura-televised bout.

However, he seldom let his hands go against the Las Vegas-based Kazakhstan native, who utilized stick-and-move tactics to gradually wear down Santiago. Once, Santiago stepped up his aggression, at the start of the ninth round, Shumenov was able to hurt him.

Can Shumenov, THE RING's No. 9-rated light heavyweight, do the same to fellow 175-pound contenders? He wants to find out and he could get the chance against Jean Pascal, who was ringside at the Santiago fight. The former RING champ challenged Shumenov in the ring immediately after congratulating the WBA beltholder on his victory.

Shumenov accepted the challenge even though he admitted that Santiago gave him a tough fight. 

"It was a tough fight," Shumenov said. "(Santiago) has three times more fights, more experience than me. But now I'm ready for a great fighter, Jean Pascal."

The Montreal-based Haitian was happy to hear those words.

"It would be a great fight, a great challenge," Pascal said. "I got to get those belts back to Canada."

Said Shumenov: "It would be an honor. Not just to fight Pascal, but also (IBF beltholder) Tavoris Cloud, Chad Dawson, and all of the champions."  

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