Khabib Allakhverdiev was supposed to be facing Kendall Holt, and he fought like a man annoyed by the change of plans.
In a battle of fringe junior welterweight contenders, Allakhverdiev stopped Kaizer Mabuza at 1:03 of the fourth round. The bout was the headlining feature of a five-fight card in Moscow on Wednesday.
Two weeks ago, it was announced that that scheduled clash with Holt would not take place after the American ran into some visa issues. Mabuza was soon listed as a replacement, and his respectable pedigree and size advantage were perceived to be a reasonable challenge on late notice.
The Russian southpaw dispelled that notion early on, whacking Mabuza with body shots around his tight guard. Late in the first round, a cuffing right hook sent the visitor to the canvas, although balance may have been the main culprit.
Allakhverdiev (17-0, 8 knockouts) continued to outclass Mabuza in the second round, notably pushing him back with a hard left uppercut when the fight found itself in close quarters for the first time.
Mabuza, 32, Johannesburg, South Africa had his best moments late in the third round, when his plodding attack finally caught up to his opponent and gave him the chance to wind up and land a few hard body shots.
Perhaps the fleeting success gave him too much confidence.
Mabuza (24-9, 15 KOs) walked right in to a sharp left hand counter in the fourth, with Allakhverdiev stationed along the ropes. The South African was on unsteady legs and confined to the corner, where “The Hawk” kept his pray, and laid him flat out after a devastating combination.
With the win, Allakhverdiev captured the lightly regarded IBO trinket. More importantly, the 29-year-old boxer-puncher from Derbent, Russia puts himself in a position for a possible clash with THE RING’s No. 5 junior welterweight Zab Judah. The former two-division titlist was in Russia during fight week as part of a promotional “reunion” with Allakhverdiev’s trainer Kosta Tszyu, whom he lost to in 2001.
According to a report by BoxingScene, Vladimir Hryunov, who manages Allakhverdiev, had already contacted Judah’s promoter Main Events about a possible clash earlier this year.
On the night’s undercard, Russian cruiserweight contender Grigory Drozd stopped Fabio Garrido in the first round. Drozd lost to Firat Arslan in a WBA eliminator back in 2006, but has since climbed his way back into title contention, mostly with victories over journeymen and domestic talent. He has recently told local reporters that he wants to race Arslan once again in August.
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