By Brad Snyder at ringside
Photos: Bob Ryder
Unbeaten IBF lightweight world champion Robert Easter (20-0, 14 KOs) retained his title with a twelve round unanimous decision over mandatory challenger Denis Shafikov (38-3-1, 20 KOs) on Friday night at the half-full Huntington Center in Toledo, Ohio.
The fight quickly picked up the pace in the second round. Easter, deciding not to use his reach advantage, traded blows with Shafikov in the center of the ring. The third round showed Easter able to use a devastating right uppercut in close quarters. In the middle rounds Shafikov continued to push forward, head first, pressuring the champion. Easter tried to use his reach to keep off the pressure from Shafikov. Shafikov relentlessly moved forward and forced the champ to trade blows at a very close range. In the end, two judges (Jaime Garayua and Eugene Grant) awarded every round to the hometown fighter Easter. Scores were 120-108, 120-108, 116-112.