Heavyweight wrecking ball Evgeny Romanov retained his WBO Global title recently as the Russian continued his relentless pursuit of Anthony Joshua.
Romanov, who stopped Deontay Wilder in the amateurs, moved to 15-0 with the eleventh early finish of his career last week.
Bullying and battering an out-of-depth Siarhei Liakhovich inside two rounds, Romanov showed his feared power once again.
Liakhovich was trying to keep Romanov out with a weak jab first, and Romanov was able to connect with rights over the top of that.
Just before the bell, he pinned Liakhovich to the ropes and blasted him to head and body.
“Romanov continued to put pressure on Liakhovich in the second, sending him to the ropes and bombarding him with punches.
Liakhovich fought his way off the ropes a couple of times, but when he was forced back there again, and Romanov unloaded with some solid thumps, Liakhovich slumped to his knees and made no attempt to beat the count.
The 35-year-old Romanov is now edging closer to becoming a challenger to Joshua’s WBO strap.
He was a top-line amateur, and that included that said third-round knockout Wilder back in 2008. Romanov was also a European and World Junior champion and won the Russian title in 2009.
He dropped boxing in 2010 and did not fight again until he turned pro in 2016.
At 6’0” and around 228lbs, it’s thought the new WBC weight category between 200 and 224 pounds would be just right for him.
It could be decided that Romanov goes for a Bridgerweight victory before eventually facing Joshua. But rankings-wise, he’s within touching distance of the Briton.
Belarusian Liakhovich, 44, who himself was WBO champion for a brief few months, is now 2-6 in his last eight fights. Again, he did not look good.
On the bill in Ekaterinburg, Roman Andreev, Magomed Kurbanov, and Evgeny Tischenko all scored similar second-round triumphs.
Andreev took out Pavel Malikov. Kurbanov beat Dmitry Mikhaylenko, and cruiserweight prospect Tischenko defeated John McCallum.
As for Joshua, the unified ruler faces Kubrat Pulev in a dangerous looking assignment on December 12th. If victories, the two-time champion will land a battle with fellow Brit Tyson Fury in 2021.
By the time Joshua and Fury complete an expected duo of encounters, Romanov should be more than ready to be given his opportunity.
Whether a run at super-cruiserweight comes first is the only question left.
Additional fight report quotes from Eric Armit.