In Ekaterinburg, Russia, super-welterweight contender Magomed Kurbanov improved to 22-0 with a points victory over former world champion Liam Smith.
Smith dropped to 29-3-1 with the reverse.
Also on the bill, welterweight Eduard Skavynskyi can now boast a 14-0 record after defeating the experienced Joel Julio (39-6).
At Super Bantamweight, Mukhammad Shekhov out-scored Evgenii Liashkov.
Eric Armit reports.
Kurbanov vs. Smith
Kurbanov gets a contestable unanimous verdict over Smith. Kurbanov did the better work in a quiet first round and also edged the second.
Smith picked up the pace in the third, which was a close round, but Smith was finding gaps and scoring well in the fourth. At that point, all three cards had Kurbanov in front 39-37. Smith began to roll. He slotted home jabs and cracked Kurbanov with rights with Kurbanov’s output dropping, and Smith took the fifth.
Kurbanov did enough to make the sixth close, but good work with his jab and accurate rights saw Smith collect the points in the seventh and eighth. The split scoring now had them level at 76-76 on two cards, with one judge having increased Kurbanov’s lead to three points at 78-75.
Kurbanov showed signs of tiring in the ninth, but Smith was still strong and outlanding the local fighter. The tenth was close, with both fighters having some success, and the officials could have scored it for either of them. The eleventh was again a difficult one to score. Kurbanov was more accurate, but Smith was landing the heavier punches, and they both threw everything into the last, with Smith having the narrowest of edges.
For the vacant WBO International Jr. Middleweight title, Magomed Kurbanov defeated former world champion, Liam Smith, by unanimous decision @ KRK “Uralets”, Ekaterinburg. Scorecards: 115-113, 115-113, 117-112. pic.twitter.com/wKeVZp7xPU
— WBO (@WorldBoxingOrg) May 8, 2021
Scores 115-113 twice and 117-111 for Kurbanov. It wasn’t quite robbery but one of those cases where Smith would probably have got the decision if the fight had been held in the UK.
Kurbanov, 25, the Russian “Black Lion,” collects the WBO International title. He was No 5 with the WBO, but more significantly, Smith was No2, so Kurbanov can now expect to be sitting right behind No 1 Tim Tszyu and in with a good chance of a shot at the WBO title later this year.
Huge disappointment for Smith, a former WBO, and interim WBC title-holder. He had rebuilt since his loss to Jaime Munguia for the WBO title in 2018 with three wins over good-level opposition, and it might be hard for him to fight his way back into another title shot.
Skavynskyi vs. Julio
Locally based Ukrainian Skavynskyi gets a confidence-building win over the seasoned pro, Julio. Now 36, and a lack of recent activity have drained away much of Julio’s ambition, and although he showed some of his old skills, there was very little fire left.
Skavynskyi was able to dictate the fight’s pace and connected with a left hook in the fifth that put Julio on the floor. Julio rallied late but not enough to even see him win a round.
Scores 100-89 for Skavynskyi on the three judge’s tabs. Skavynskyi has yet to be put in a testing fight.
A 34-1 start to his career saw Colombian Julio land a shot at Serhiy Dzinziruk for the WBO super welter title back in 2008, but he lost on points, and in 2010, he was knocked out by Alfredo Angulo for the interim WBO title.
Since then, he had been largely inactive, which was only his fourth fight in the last ten years.
Shekhov vs. Liashkov
Uzbek-born Russian Shekhov gets an away win as he outpoints Ekaterinburg-based Liashkov to win the vacant WBO European title. Liashkov took the fight to southpaw.
Shekhov trying to offset Shekhov’s better skills with a more aggressive approach. It did not work as Shekhov outboxed and outscored Liashkov to emerge a good winner.
Scores 97-93 for Shekhov from the Judges. Two or three experienced campaigners in Shekhov’s list of victims, but there are tougher fights ahead.
After losing his first fight, Liashkov had put together an eight-bout winning streak, but this was his first fight scheduled for ten rounds, and hopefully, he will have learned a few valuable lessons.