Heavyweight contender Evgeny Romanov lost for the first time in his career after a stunning second knockout against Zhaoxin Zhang.
The 19-0 highly-rated Russian dropped down a weight class after being offered a bridgerweight title eliminator by the WBA. However, it didn’t end well for Romanov.
Despite putting Zhang on the canvas in the first and seeming on the way to a routine win over the 11-2-1 also-ran, Romanov got totaled in the following session.
A massive shot landed square on his jaw, leaving the man who stopped Deontay Wilder in the amateurs flailing all over the floor. An attempt to get up resulted in Romanov falling on his nose after being faceplanted with the first punch.
😱😱WOAH!!!! On the verge of getting stopped, Zhaoxin Zhang knocks out Evgeny Romanov in a monumental upset. pic.twitter.com/J9ytmxguD1
— TrillerTV (@FiteTV) February 10, 2024
Zhang moves on to challenge Evgeny Tishchenko for his new strap. Tischenko won the first WBA super cruiserweight [bridgerweight] championship in December. The fight will happen on the back of the WBA following the WBC by creating a new 224-pound weight class.
Disillusioned fans panned the controversial move. They firmly didn’t want more divisions and more belts.
Romanov, who drops to 19-1, may now have a big decision. The plan was to win the WBA crown at 224 before returning to heavyweight to challenge the more significant names.
Evgeny Romanov’s future
That plan has backfired. However, Romanov could still head north in weight to land a solid paycheck before retiring. Turning professional in 2016, having just 20 fights in eight years has hampered Romanov’s progress.
Now, he finds himself at 38 and with little room for maneuver. A rematch with Zhang in another eliminator would be the easiest route back to a title. However, Romanov would still be 39 when he can get refocused on the heavyweight division.
The former Junior Amateur World Champion will rue his lack of urgency in those early years, with several gaps of a year or more on his record.
His 2008 stoppage of Wilder in a Russia vs. USA International event could have been his ticket to a rematch in the pros. That ship has now sailed.
Phil Jay is an experienced boxing news writer and has been the Editor of World Boxing News since 2010.