By Marco Bratusch at ringside
2016 Olympic bronze medal Filipi Hrgovic (3-0, 3 KOs) stopped British Tom Little (10-5, 3 KOs) in round four of their scheduled eight round heavyweight contest. The Croatian put on a strong start in round one, following Little through the ring an landing a straight right flush just before the bell, which made Little wobble and as he looked for the stool. Little tried to fire back in round two in order to earn some respect from Hrgovic landing something big but he does not seem to have the necessary stamina to keep his hands go continuously. The Birt showed his cheeky temperament in round three yelling at Hrgovic’s face to provoke him but the former Olympian stick to his plan, using his jab and fighting at a decent pace. In round four, Little did land a good right punch but then suffered the Hrgovic comeback, which after a flurry of punches forced referee Daniel Van de Wiele to stop his foe. Little was cut on his left eyebrow and had some trouble for a few seconds after the stoppage as he struggles to regain his balance.
Local undefeated 24-year-old Jevgenijs Aleksejevs (8-0, 6 KOs), loudly cheered by the crowd, struggled to outpoint tough Frenchman Maurice Possiti (17-13, 7 KOs). The fight was basically fought at mid-range. Aleksejevs started well using his superior hand speed and targeting the body, but Possiti was dangerous in round two with some crisp overhand rights, growing some confidence. The third round was very rough, as a heavily bruised Aleksejevs landed a counter right hook that wobbled Possiti for several seconds before the Frenchman found a clinch. The local light-heavyweight kept taking control of the fight as the busier man but using more caution than before, while Possiti landed rarely but effectively, maybe too rarely to impress the judges. Thus, the split decision was given to Aleksejevs by the judges after six rounds but it really was a stern test for the Latvian, who went back to the locker room with his record still untouched although his face appeared to be a bloody mess.
WBC International Silver titlist Yoann Kongolo (11-0, 4 KOs) successfully defended his belt for the first time outpointing local light-heavyweight Andrejs Pokumeiko over ten rounds. It was a dominant performance by the 30-year-old Kongolo, who dropped Pokumeiko early at the end of round one but it was considered a slip by referee Van de Wiele. Pokumeiko (16-13-1, 12 KOs) did appear to slip on that occasion, but perhaps the slip was the result of a short left hook he took just an instant before. From round two, Kongolo took greater confidence fighting at closer distance and targeting Pokumeiko’s body insistently. Pokumeiko remained tentative as he concentrates to his defense while thinking to some kind of solution to put on. Unfortunately for him, he could find no concrete answers tonight as he was systematically outlanded by Kongolo, yet confirming his ability to absorb punishment. The belt holder went on mixing hooks with short uppercuts while fighting from the inside and cutting the ring off. An exhausted Pokumeiko was finally counted in round seven, moments before an accidental clash of heads cut his left eyebrow and lead to a point deduction for Kongolo, as it is the WBC ruling. Pokumeiko had to dig deep in the last two rounds in order to reach the final bell, with Kongolo not showing signs of fatigue in his continuous effort. Scorecards were 98-90, 98-91 and 99-89 all in favor of Kongolo.
Sauerland promoted cruiserweight Mikael Lawal (5-0, 3 KOs) scored a one-sided victory over six rounds versus journeyman Istvan Orsos (16-44-2, 5 KOs), who was dropped multiple times but somehow managed to reach the final bell. This was the opening bout of the night at Arena Riga in Latvia.
Armenian by way of Germany Araik Maritujan (2-0) beat young Hungarian Richard Hegyi (4-3, 3 KOs) after four rounds of pretty balanced action, with the two middleweight exchanging fair leather until the final round.
In the third preliminary bout, 27-year-old Heavyweight southpaw Otto Wallin (19-0, 13 KOs), from Sweden, trained by former titleholder Joey Gamache, secured his Swedish-Swedish affair with countryman Adrian Granat for the vacant European Union title stopping his foe early tonight. Wallin used his right jab, frequently followed by a left cross, to put pressure early and forcing Bosnian Srdan Govedarica (6-6, 5 KOs) at the corners, dropping him in round two for a count of six and eventually closing matters in the following frame with a body shot.