Martin Bakole preserved his high world ranking with a crushing three-round victory over Ihor ‘Hulk’ Shevadzutskyi in Poland.
Fighting on the undercard of Alen Babic vs Lukasz Rozanski at the G2A Arena in Rzeszow, Bakole needed to protect his position, No 2 with the WBA, to set himself up for further major heavyweight fights.
He did so with a brutal finishing display.
Shevadzutskyi is the more compact and, at least in their first round, showed deceptively quick hands with his heavy bulk behind them. He advanced in the first round, forcing his jab in and driving out his right to catch Bakole off guard.
The Ukrainian landed a left hook and Bakole stung him back with the same shot.
But the Hulk’s ponderous footwork left him in the firing line and Bakole had soon seen enough of his opponent in the first round. He went to work in the second.
A thunderous left upended the Hulk and Shevadzutskyi crashed down into the canvas. The big man righted himself but he had to go on the retreat and Bakole continued his attack.
He punched with loose arms but in punishing combinations, plying the body as well to break his foe’s resistance.
His repeated right uppercuts snapped Shevadzutskyi’s head back and Bakole slammed a brutal right cross through.
Shevadzutskyi made it through to the third round but by that stage he was running on fumes.
Bakole showed no mercy. He picked up where he left off, planting heavy punches on his target and a final right hook finished the fight, with the referee darting in to wave it off 45 seconds into the third round.
It was the Hulk’s first defeat and a crushing one.
Bakole will fight anyone and everyone. He called out a host of top heavyweights.
“I made a big statement. I was the first guy to stop [Shevadzutskyi],” he told Sky Sports.
“I want Dillian Whyte, Daniel Dubois, Oleksandr Usyk. Why not Usyk? Why not Deontay Wilder? I call people out because I know I can stop them!”
BOXXER promoter Ben Shalom added: “Bakole is so good fighters don’t want to fight him. Everyone in boxing knows how good he is so we have to make sure he gets his mandatories and people can’t avoid him.
“Martin has pedigree, he is ready for the big fights. For me, Wilder is the fight he should be getting next. Wilder, Whyte or Dubois.”
Tottenham heavyweight Jeamie TKV walked in on Michal Bolozdriving his jab into the Pole’s stomach repeatedly before he bowled his right into Boloz’s chin.
The Pole shook his head though and when TKV looked to repeat that shot Boloz caught him on the end of short right.
But the Londoner came out for the second round with bad intent. He screwed a left hook up into the body and had Boloz hurt. His right swept into the Pole’s trunk and he clobbered Boloz round the head and through the ropes for the first knockdown.
TKV was not going to spare him. He was on Boloz as soon as the contest resumed. He found another brutal left hook to body and left his opponent crumpled on the canvas, counted out at 1-57 of the second.
Fighting for the European cruiserweight title, with the home crowd behind him, Michal Cieslak set after France’s Dylan Bregeon without remorse or hesitation.
Bregeon popped in punches as Cieslak ground forward but he was being forced to back off.
Cieslak picked up a cut on the bridge of his nose but that did not slow him down. He leapt forward with a left hook to the head and another thumping right.
With Bregeon cornered on the ropes, he shook up the Frenchman. As soon as he saw his prey tottering, he took his assault to a new pitch of ferocity, hammering at Bregeon with either fist and battering him down to a knee.
Bregeon beat that count but Cieslak left him no space to breathe and no room to escape. He drove him to the far side of the ring, trapped him on the ropes and floored him savagely once again.
Bregeon was counted out with one second left in the fourth round.
Steed Woodall and Boris Crighton started their eight-rounder quietly, fencing with jabs as they looked for further openings. They worked with care and thought but were wary of taking too many risks.
Woodall clipped the Scotsman with neat right crosses and leant back to take the sting out of a power punch from Crighton.
‘The Blade’ Crighton was defensively sound but Woodall put better punches together as he chalked up the early rounds.
But Crighton still connected with a heavy right when he opened up in the fifth round and in the next stanza landed a hefty countering backhand when Woodall stepped in.
They exchanged in a flurry in the seventh. A shot from Crighton wobbled Woodall for a moment. It looked like the Birmingham man’s legs stiffened. But the Scotsman either did not notice or was unable to press home that advantage.
Crighton had tightened the contest up before the end but a unanimous decision, 77-75 for all three judges went Woodall’s way.
Also on the undercard Poland’s Laura Grzyb won the vacant European super-bantamweight title when she edged Italy’s Maria Cecchi out we have a split decision.