By Fox Doucette
From the Khodynka Ice Palace in Moscow, Russian cruiserweight Denis Lebedev (23-1, 17 KOs) spent 12 rounds beating up former champion and current shell of a fighter James Toney (73-7-3, 44 KOs) and, in the view of this writer, pulling punches to keep from killing the old man. This fight was painful to watch, embarrassing for James Toney, and a complete one-sided beatdown bordering on the ludicrous.
From two minutes into the very first round, when a clean left hand put Toney on the back foot, the fight was never anything even remotely approaching competitive. Every round was the same; Lebedev seemed unwilling to go for the knockout for fear of doing real damage and having a potential murder on his conscience, and Toney stumbled around like a drunk man exiting a pub at last call. At any point from about the third round onward, referee Gustavo Padilla could have stopped the contest without it looking like an early stoppage.
When the scorecards came forth, there were no surprises. 120-108 (twice) and 120-107 (with a 10-8 round somewhere in there despite no knockdowns in the twelve rounds) pretty much sums up the fight. Move along, nothing to see here.
On the undercard, Ismayl Sillakh (17-0, 14 KOs) absolutely starched Ali Ismailov (18-8-1, 13 KOs) en route to Ismailov’s fifth consecutive loss by knockout. Midway through the fourth round, a picture-perfect uppercut put Ismailov down and out for the count. Sillakh, rated in the top ten at cruiserweight by a couple of alphabet soup organizations, did exactly what was expected of him against a former world title challenger who is very much on the downside of his career.
Finally, 122-pound fringe contender Alexander Bakhtin (28-0, 11 KOs) showed mainly that he hasn’t got much stopping power against Colombian journeyman Luis Melendez (31-7-1, 22 KOs). Melendez, best known for losing to Fernando Montiel for the WBO super flyweight title in 2007, has still never won a fight outside his native Colombia; he is now 0-6 outside of the land of coffee and cocaine. Bakhtin put Melendez down twice in the third but was unable to finish him, going into cruise control from the fourth round onward, content to coast to the wide unanimous decision (this writer had it 100-88 for the Russian.)
All told, these were three non-competitive fights, any of which could have been stopped early, though only Ismayl Sillakh was able to close the show.
Fox Doucette covers Friday Night Fights for The Boxing Tribune. His weekly column, The Southpaw, appears on Thursdays. Fan mail, hate mail, and “in Soviet Russia article writes YOU” jokes can be sent to email@example.com.