Browne KO’s Chagaev – This Saturday March 5th in Grozny, Russia WBA Heavyweight Champion Ruslan Chagaev defended his title against the challenge of Australia’s Lucas Browne. The fight was the headline bout of a thirteen fight card produced by Kazbek Aslambekov, and the fight aired on AWE in the United States and on Main Event in Australia.
Chagaev (34-2-1, 21 KO) was making the second defense of the belt he won back in July of 2014, and Browne (23-0, 20 KO) was making a bid for Australian boxing history as he would become the first Aussie with a piece of the heavyweight title.
The card was filled with talent from Africa, as Tanzania’s Karama Nyilawila (22-15-2) and Ugandans Mustapha Katende (11-4) and Joey Vegas (17-13-2) all took losses to local and Russian talent.
One of the notable fights on the undercard saw 2-0 Cruiserweight Tyrone Spong facing off against 12-0 David Gogishvili in a six round bout. Spong is a highly decorated kickboxer with a documented record of 74-7-1 and he has also dabbled in MMA, where he is 2-0 fighting in the NBC Sports televised “World Series of Fighting”. In April of 2014, Spong suffered a gruesome leg fracture in a kickboxing match held in Istanbul, Turkey under the “Glory” promotion. Spong boxed two bouts in March of 2015 as part of his comeback from the leg injury, and has been away from competition since.
Spong opened up cautiously against the shorter, stouter Gogishvili. Spong used a lot of motion and won the opening round. In the second round he caught Gogishvili with an uppercut that sent him to the canvas. Gogishvili got up, but the referee determined he was still affected and stopped it. Spong made an impact with his personality, and notably, he counted on Super Bantamweight world champion Guillermo Rigondeaux among his entourage.
In welterweight action, Viskhan Murzabekov (12-0) faced South Africa’s Ali Funeka (37-5-3). The opening round saw the taller Funeka and the stout Murzabekov work cautiously. At the end of the round Murzabekov uncorked a flurry to possibly steal the round. In round two, Murzabekov hurt Funeka, who was sent stumbling into the ropes for a standing eight count. Though Funeka was able to get to the end of the round and he was trying to respond, he was being overwhelmed. The pace settled for the next few rounds, as Funeka kept Murzabekov at a distance better, and the Russian seemed to be looking for one big punch. Funeka started to pressure Murzabek over the latter rounds. Murzabekov was in his first twelve round bout, and he seemed to run out of looks to present Funeka with over the course of the fight. After a long wait, the judges score cards came back a split decision with scores of 114-113 and 115-112 for Funeka, who pulled the fight out in hostile territory.
The next bout saw veteran Heavyweight Brian Minto (41-10) facing Edmund Gerber (25-2). Gerber was bigger and seemed stronger, and after a slow first round, he sent Minto to the canvas twice in the second. The referee waved the bout off with Minto lying prone on his belly. The stop came with 30 seconds left in Round 2.
The main event followed a light show and a video package, and Michael Buffer was the man brought in to be the special ring announcer for the main event. Judges from Venezuela, Monaco and Thailand were overseeing the bout.
From the start the two men seemed to settle in for a long fight, as the first several rounds saw a feeling-out process with both trying to establish momentum. Browne was the more mobile of the two and at times he used his jab effectively. Chagaev was constantly moving forward using sneaky head movement and southpaw stance to close the distance.
There was no doubt that Chagaev had the support of the crowd, but they tensely took in the action in relative silence. Browne started the sixth round fighting off the jab, but he seemed to tire. Chagaev started to land, and he had bloodied Browne around the eye and forehead. With 30 seconds left in the round, Chagaev landed a solid shot to the body followed by a shot to the face that sent Browne to the canvas. The Australian got up and survived the round, but the wheels came off the Browne game plan in round six.
Browne showed his mettle in round seven, as he was able to stop Chagaev’s advance with upper cuts throughout the round. Chagaev’s rate of activity and landed punches dropped off in round eight, and Browne was consistently jabbing and landing the sneaky uppercut he found working on Chagaev.
Chagaev had a better round in the ninth, with more activity while Browne was forced to back up. By the tenth round, the crowd was chanting “Ruslan” as they realized that Chagaev was in a close fight.
Browne stunned Chagaev in the tenth, stopping him with a body shot and then sending him to the floor with a big punch to follow. Chagaev got up but he was wobbly, and Browne trapped him against the ropes and unloaded until the referee stepped in.
Lucas Browne makes history, moving his record to 24-0 and becoming the first Australian to win a piece of a world heavyweight championship as he takes home the WBA title.
The Colosseum Sport Hall was packed and the show had a high production value, with light shows and choreographed ring entrances adding to a “big show” atmosphere.
Check out this results video for this fight at The Boxing Channel