Senchenko Defeats Nuzhnenko, Wins WBA Welterweight Title
By Erik Schmidt: World Boxing Association (WBA) welterweight champion Yuriy Nuzhnenko (28-1-1, 13 KOs) was defeated in a 12-round unanimous decision loss to fellow Ukrainian Vyacheslav Senchenko (29-0, 20 KOs) tonight at the Sports Palace Drusba, in Donetsk, Ukraine. The final judge’s scores were 116-112, 116-112 and 118-110, all for the quicker Senchenko. Nuzhnenko, 32, was cut over his right eye in the 3rd round and suffered a bloody nose in the 7th. He also had a small cut on his forehead near his hairline and blood coming out of his right ear by the end of the 12th.
Although the scored were close with two of the judges, it looked to me as if Nuzhnenko won only two rounds in the fight, the 1st and the 11th.
Nuzhnenko landed the bigger shots in the 1st round, stalking Senchenko around the ring and land short power punches. Senchenko, a 2000 Olympian for Ukraine as a light welterweight, moved constantly and jabbed away at Nuzhnenko and out-landed him in the round by a significant margin. However, Nuzhnenko landed by far the harder shots.
In rounds two through six, Senchenko took over the fight, dominating the slower Nuzhnenko, tagging him with hard jabs as he plodded forward and nailing him with left hooks when Nuzhnenko would try to get in close to land his short combinations. Senchenko is listed at 5’10”, but he looked at least two to three inches taller than the 5’9″ Nuzhnenko.
Senchenko’s reach was also much longer than Nuzhnenko, which allowed him to jab away at the champion from the outside without having to worry about getting hit. Senchenko landed two huge right hands at the end of the 2nd round, both snapping Nuzhnenko’s head back.
Nuzhnenko did no better in rounds three and four, continuing to plod forward trying to cut off the ring on Senchenko. It wasn’t easy, because Senchenko remained a moving target at all times while flicking a constant jab in the face of Nuzhnenko. The two fighters clashed heads in the 3rd, opening up a small cut above the right eye of Nuzhnenko. The cut wasn’t a problem and barely bled the entire fight.
Nuzhnenko landed some nice short right hands in the 5th round, although not nearly enough win the round because Senchenko was continuing to blast away at him with combinations and jabs in great numbers.
In the 6th round, Nuzhnenko did a little better, pressing the action and landing a few right hands. However, Senchenko answered him back each time with three punch combinations to shut him down.
In rounds eight through twelve, behind in the fight, Nuzhnenko desperately tried to claw his way back into the fight by pressing constantly and throwing big shots. He was effective to a point, winning some of the rounds, but he wasn’t able to capture all of them, and he needed to sweep them in order to get at least a draw out of the fight.
In the 7th round, Nuzhnenko suffered a nose bleed. Senchenko continued to dominate the fight until the 11th, when Nuzhnenko finally was able to land enough punches to win a round. However, Senchenko came out hard in the 12th, and pounded Nuzhnenko furiously with right hands in the round.
By the end of the round, Nuzhnenko was bleeding badly from his nose, cut on his forehead and had blood coming out of his right ear. In other words, he looked like a bloody mess and a beaten fighter. Before the judges’ scores were announced, Nuzhnenko looked dejected, knowing he had lost the fight by a wide margin.
For Nuzhnenko, 32, he was bound to lose his WBA welterweight title sooner or later, because he had looked poor since winning the interim title in December 2007 with a 12-round decision over Frederic Klose. Nuzhnenko struggled in his next fight against Puerto Rican Irving Garcia, fight to a 10-round technical decision last year in April 2008.
The fight was stopped in the 10th due to a bad cut on the forehead of Nuzhnenko as a result of a head butt that had occurred earlier. Nuzhnenko was leading on one of the judges’ scores 96-95, whereas the other two had it knotted up at 95-95.
I had Garcia with a commanding lead at the time of the stoppage and saw Nuzhnenko needing a knockout to win. It was clear then that Nuzhnenko likely wouldn’t hold onto the WBA belt no matter whom he fought. He just didn’t have the power, size or speed to enable him to retain the title for long.