Former world heavyweight title holder Alexander Povetkin produced a sparkling and dominant showing to become the first to stop giant Pole Mariusz Wach in Kazan.
The 36 year-old seems to be improving with age following his solitary loss to Wladimir Klitschko in 2013 and moved on to a challenge against WBC champion Deontay Wilder with his 30th career win.
Povetkin, an Olympic gold medallist, was on top throughout the encounter – teeing off with some impressive combinations until a bad cut on Wach’s cheek began to worsen late on.
Referee Jay Nady asked the ringside physician to take a look at the injury in the final round and the fight was subsequently called off.
A fight with Wilder has now been stipulated to take place in April or May of next year, although negotiations may not run smoothly if controversial handler Al Haymon has anything to do with it.
In the co-feature, Crowd favourite Denis Lebedev retained his WBA cruiserweight title with a stubborn display against Lateef Kayode.
Following a scrappy start, Lebedev took over from the third round and racked up the rounds until the midway point. Lebedev was gradually breaking the previously undefeated Nigerian down and by the seventh had Kayode in deep trouble.
A debated knockdown in the round, which looked wholly legitimate, was followed up in the next session by another – before Steve Smoger stepped in with Kayode cowering on the ropes.
US-based Briton Ola Afolabi produced a stunning fifth round performance to knock Rakhim Chakhkiev out cold and rip away his IBO cruiserweight title.
The 35 year-old begins a second reign as the International Boxing Organisation’s champion following a bruising victory on a card littered with knockdowns.
Chakhkiev began the contest on top and debatably took the first three rounds, but may well have punched himself out and was blowing hard from round four.
Afolabi sensed this and piled on the pressure, putting Chakhkiev on the canvas which the referee amazingly failed to call. Just moments later though, Afolabi unleashed a vicious assault which ended with the now former title holder face down on the canvas.
Eduard Troyanovsky added the IBF super lightweight title to his IBO version by halting Cesar Cuena in six rounds. The undefeated home fighter was on top throughout the contest against the 48-0 Argentinian and looked at least a weight division above the 34 year-old.
Edging all five previous rounds on my card, Troyanovsky stepped up his work to force a stoppage before the halfway point with Cuenca complaining of an eye injury.
In a big shock on the card, Dmitry Kudryashov lost his unbeaten record and the chance to claim the WBC silver cruiserweight belt when losing in two rounds to Olanrewaju Durodola.
Duradola was in trouble in the first round and looked like he could be stopped, but came back in the very next session to inflict a maiden defeat on the Russian.
Earlier, Light Heavyweight Dmitry Bivol, welterweight Viskhan Murzabekov and both stayed undefeated with crushing third and fourth round victories respectively.
10×2 – Women’s WBA Super Lightweight title
Svetlana Kulakova 10-0-1 v
Ana Laura Esteche 11-4-2
12 – Heavyweight
Alexander Povetkin 29-1 v
Mariusz Wach 31-1