In a thoroughly enjoyable though highly controversial bout Panamanian veteran Guillermo Jones (39-3-2, 31) unexpectedly overcame Denis Lebedev (25-2, 19)
The fight started well for Lebedev who was coming forward with his accurate and sharp left jab which forced the much bigger Jones to box on the back foot. Despite the impressive jab of Lebedev it was the right hands form Jones that really caught the attention as he cut Lebedev's right eye after lading several crisps shots.
Lebedev came out fighting to start the second round and landed several hurtful looking shots early in the round to both the head and body. Although Jones rode out much of the storm well he wax seemingly hurt late in the round as Lebedev started to connect with some real success.
The aggression early in round 3 was again from Lebedev who was landing with both hands though once again Jones came back well with his own offense in the middle of the round which included some lovely uppercuts. Sadly for Jones, Lebedev took the shots well and came back with his own crisp offensive work as the two men took it in turns to land heavy looking artillery.
To start round 4 Lebedev again turned up the head and landed several stunning shots that Jones took extremely well before coming back himself as the fight continued to to-and-fro at an excellent pace. Uppercuts from both men landed with Jones's head snapping back in eye catching fashion before he connected with a major body shot of his own. Both men were proving their genuinely toughness and whilst Lebedev's eye was looking like a mess he never really looked hurt.
Jones started round 5 well, targeting the badly swollen eye of Lebedev though was himself showing the results of Lebedev's hard shots. The work rate of Jones was stepped up notably whilst Lebedev was visibly slowing as if he had shot his load early on. Jones was not only looking the busier fighter through the round but also the classier fighter landing some beautiful shots on the Russian.
By the start of round 6 Lebedev's eye was swollen shut and he was genuine starting to struggle to see shots heading his way. It was obviously that Jones was targeting the eye more and more and whilst his work was a lot more limited than the previous round it started to seem like a matter of time before Lebedev's eye would force a stoppage. Despite the really messed up eye Lebedev had an excellent round landing a number of left hand howitzers that could well have taken out 90% of the fighters in the division.
Lebedev's success from 6 continued in to round 7 with a fantastic flurry early in the round. Despite the power of Lebedev his eye always seemed to threaten to stop the fight despite that it was Jones who was starting to look like a tired and old man in there. Lebedev seemed to realise that Jones was tiring and he landed a series of body shots as Jones seemed to slowly be unraveling. Jones' arms and legs were now starting to look heavy an weak, the shots lacked snap and his defensive movements seemed a lot less effective than they had early on.
Both men were proving their toughness round after round and yet their desire to win was also showing as neither man backed down from a fight. The pace had clearly slowed and Jones was looking both predictable and tired but it was still a tough mans fight with every punch being thrown with genuine bad intentions. How both men were still standing was a genuine mystery but the bout seemed to be clearly swinging in the favour of the injured Lebedev who was clearly out working the Panamanian.
Lebedev started the 9th round well and landed several hard looking shots with Jones really showing his toughness but landing very little of note in return as Lebedev came forward. Despite being clearly dominated for several rounds Jones switched to southpaw and had some genuine success, when he let his hands go. Late in the round Lebedev landed 3 or 4 monster right hooks that Jones took without blinking before coming back and probably just doing enough to take the round.
To start round 10 Jones began as a southpaw though both men were showing genuine tiredness in a close round that saw Jones try to raise the pace. Despite Lebedev showing his toughness he was cut over the left eye as his face became a real mess on both sides of his face. The round however ended in odd fashion as the two men fell to the canvas with Jones taking the brunt of the tumble. By the end of the round Lebedev really was looking like a victim of a knife attack.
Going in to the championship rounds it really was a mystery as to how the fight was still going. Lebedev's face could have seen the bout stopped for the damage on either side and Jones went out looking to try and force the stoppage. It wasn't until a minute in to the round that Jones's face got looked at in the corner with the fight being allowed to continue (unsurprisingly considering how long it had taken for the cuts to even be looked at). It was now starting to look like Jones was the fresher guy as he landed shot after shot, notably his hard accurate uppercut as a tired Lebedev went down.
With Lebedev on his knees the referee waved off the bout stopping a very exhausted looking Russian whilst also awarding the title to the veteran Panamanian who has proven that despite his age he is still one of the very best Cruiserweights on the planet.