European (EBU) Boxing Update

By Marco Bratusch

Next Saturday at Pabellòn Esperanza en Elche, Spain, European featherweight champion Marc Vidal (11-1-4, 5 KOs) will defend his title for the first time against mandatory challenger and former IBF world titleholder Kiko Martinez (28-8-1, 28 KOs). Maravillabox, which won the related bid for this contest, will promote the card. Vidal, a younger and arguably fresher action-fighter, will have to deal with a more tested fighter like Martinez, who has stamped his passport around the world facing some of the highest-ranked opponents of his era. If Martinez pulls out a victory, he will become a four-time European champion, this time in the featherweight division as he won the previous three belts in the junior featherweight class.

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Former WBC world title challenger and European junior lightweight champion Devis Boschiero (45-5-1, 22 KOs), almost 37, will take on unbeaten Belgian Faroukh Kourbanov (15-0, 3 KOs) next Saturday at Teatro Principe in Milan, Italy, the customary OPI Since 82’s in-house venue. The Italian is actually the official challenger for Kourbanov’s European Union (EU) 130-pound belt, a title he will be defending for the second time since he outpointed Petteri Frojdholm via majority decision in Finland in 2017 for the vacant belt. Kourbanov, ten years younger than the challenger, looks like an accurate boxer who takes his time to pick his punches. Boschiero, a fighter, needs to impose a high pace and a short-distance battle most of the time to take Kourbanov out of his comfort zone. Interesting matchup.

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Another interesting European Union (EU) title is set for Saturday night in Belgium, as former titlist Steve Jamoye (24-4-1, 5 KOs), the local boxer, will take on Romanian Florin Cardos (18-1, 7 KOs) for the vacant 140-pound belt. Also on the card promoted by Mirco Giuliani’s GMG Promotions, former European (EBU) lightweight champion Francesco Patera (18-3, 7 KOs) is going to make his ring return after the loss suffered in his title-rematch with current champion Edis Tatli, facing Frenchman Ruban Gouveia (10-4-2, 3 KOs) in a six-rounder.

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Undefeated cruiserweight southpaw Fabio Turchi’s (14-0, 11 KOs) fight against Baltimore’s Nick Kisner (20-4-1, 6 KOs), scheduled June 2 in Atlantic City, NJ, it is said to be in jeopardy according to sources, as parties are still distant over a few contractual terms to finalize a deal. The 24-year-old puncher is also co-challenger for the European Union (EU) 200-pound vacant title, even though his previously scheduled opponent Luke Watkins has then reached a deal with Matchroom Boxing to be matched against Laurence Okolie on June 6 at York Hall, London, UK.

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Featherweight left-handed technician Mauro Forte (9-0-1, 2 KOs) will be pitted against unbeaten fellow Moussa Gholam (9-0, 4 KOs), born in Morocco but living in Spain, for the vacant WBC Mediterranean 126-pound title. The interesting contest will top a BBT Production card in Rome, Italy.

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Last Saturday in Florence, Italy, flyweight Mohammed Obbadi (16-1, 11 KOs) became a two-time European Union (EU) champion as he outpointed tough co-challenger Aramis Torres (7-1-1, 3 KOs), from Islas Canarias, Spain. Obbadi dropped Torres early in round one with counter left hand, then he followed up taking control of the first part of the fight using his better skill set. However, the away boxer rallied strong in the late rounds, especially the ninth when he put Obbadi in troubles, proving to be a solid opponent until the final bell. All in all Obbadi looked to deserve the unanimous decision the judges widely granted to him by 119-109, 116-111 and 118-109, bringing home his third victory after the loss he suffered against current WBC 112-pound champion Cristofer Rosales last year.

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Middleweight Mirko Geografo (11-1-1, 1 KOs) pulled out a minor upset last Friday in Rome, Italy, as he dethroned former national titlist Domenico Spada (43-7, 19 KOs) with a very unexpected sixth-round quit from the former WBC Silver champ. Spada, 37, started the fight aggressively during the first three rounds, boxing his usual physical fight with pressure, slugging and brawling as Goegrafo looked to stay at distance to find out some openings for his counters while moving and switching his stance frequently. An accidental headbutt cut Spada’s left cheekbone in round two but he was the one who was using elbows, head and arms holding in clinches more. In round four, Geografo began to find a home for his right hook consistently, until one of those punches wobbled Spada hard in the fifth round. At this point, Spada put on a protesting walk to gain some time, accusing the referee of something. After almost thirty seconds, the action could finally continue but a bloody Spada staggered again clearly in round six over another crisp hook, with Geografo very determined and focused to close the show soon. This time, the referee conceded no time to Spada’s protesting and self-ruling, calling the bout off. The 26-year-old Geografo confirmed not only his decent skills but also to have a strong personality to deal with a rugged veteran like Spada in a huge step-up for him and in a relatively new weight division as well.

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In other EBU news, former European heavyweight champion Robert Helenius (26-2, 16 KOs) was appointed as the new official challenger for current European Champion (EU) title holder Otto Wallin (20-0, 13 KOs), who won that belt outpointing fellow countryman Adrian Granat last month in Sundswall, Sweden. Helenius had big issues in beating experienced, quality journeyman Yuri Bykhautsou over eight rounds last March, as his opponent boxed a busy, competitive fight on his front foot but was little effective against a 40-pounds heavier and taller foe like Helenius who towered on him, basically jabbing his way to secure a close, disputed split decision.

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The now middleweight Jack Culcay (23-3, 11 KOs), who was initially scheduled to be part of the SES Boxing night in Liepzig, Germany, on June 9, was appointed as the new co-challenger for Briton Elliot Matthews (20-0-1, 9 KOs) for the vacant European Union (EU) 160-pound title. A purse bid has been called for May 23 if parties do not seal a deal before that date.

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