Unbeaten Russian Khabib Allakhverdiev (18-0, 8) impressively claimed the WBA Light Welterweight title as he inflicted the first loss on to Domican Joan Guzman (33-1-1-1, 20) thanks to an 8th round technical decision in a bout marred by a number of blown calls by referee Luis Pabon.
The fight started well with a very fun opening round that saw Guzman sent to the canvas in what was ruled a slip though clearly came from a punch as Pabon made his first botched call of the night. Other than the "knockdown" the round was thoroughly fun to watch as both men went at each other. Thankfully the following round continued in a similar manner with both men tagging each other with solid shots.
Allakhverdiev proved to have the power to hurt Guzman again in the third round as he sent the Dominican down, this time with the shot being counted by the referee as the Russian claimed a 10-8 round. Guzman fought back well the following round and used his feet to stay out of danger for most of the round before both men tried tearing lumps off each other in the final 30 seconds. Sadly for Guzman his momentum was ended quickly with the Domican again knocked down, as Pabon botched yet another call in favour of the Dominican. Although Pabon missed the clear knockdown, he couldn't help Guzman's face, which ended up getting tagged with a shot that appeared to really mess up Guzman's nose.
After 5 rounds it was looking like a bout that was going to go Allakhverdiev's way, though Guzman then decided to use his brain and instead of going toe-to-toe with the Russian he instead decided to box and move. When Guzman was moving he was making Allakhverdiev look slow and plodding and this allowed Guzman to claim both the 6th and 7th round very easily. It was now that I was asking myself why had Guzman not started the fight like this, though though the answer was obvious, he's 36 and he can't do that for 12 rounds.
Controversy again reared it's ugly head in round 8 as Guzman, still boxing on his toes fell over, twisting his knee in the process. After a time out, the referee allowed Guzman to go on and Allakhverdiev went straight after his man who was now a stationary target. It didn't take long for Allakhverdiev to have Guzman in real trouble and then Guzman went down again, this time a clear push as Allakhverdiev went in for the kill. This time Guzman was unable to continue forcing the referee to end the bout with some viewers (especially those watching on TV) assuming that Guzman was wanting out of the fight considering the energy he had been using by boxing on his toes.
Surprisingly despite arguably scoring 3 knockdowns, and only losing 3 of the 8 rounds Allakhverdiev only managed to scrape a close split decision over Guzman with all 3 cards reading 76-75 (2 in favour of the Russian). A series of cards that were as mystifying as the performance of Pabon, who not only missed the knockdowns but also warned Allakhverdiev about anything and everything, splitting the fighters when it favoured Guzman and really started to get in Allakhverdiev's head. Sorry Luis but it's time to walk away after this dreadful performance.