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Richard Commey vs. Denis Shafikov this Friday

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By Jim Dower: Light welterweight contender Richard Commey (24-1, 22 KOs) will be back inside the ring this Friday night on December 2 to face #3 WBC, #5 IBF Denis Shafikov (37-2-1, 20 KOs) in a 12 round fight at the Tough Fight Gym in Moscow, Russia. This is the 29-year-old Commey’s first fight since losing to Robert Easter Jr. by a close 12 round split decision last September in a failed effort to win the vacant IBF lightweight title.

Commey dropped Easter Jr. in the 8th round. However, he wasn’t able to sustain the pace to get the win. Easter Jr. won by the scores 115-112, 114-113 for Easter Jr., and 114-113 for Commey. It was definitely close.

If Commey had been able to push the pace, he could have won the fight. Easter Jr. was just a little too consistent for Commey in that fight, and that was the deciding factor. Easter Jr. hurt Commey in the 12th round with a big right hand that almost sent him down.

The remaining seconds of the round, Easter Jr. poured it on in trying to get a knockout. Commey wisely held on until the final bell sounded. It was close though. If there had been more time remaining in the round, Easter Jr. would have had a good chance of finishing Commey off.

With the kind of punishment Commey took in the 12th against Easter, you have to wonder whether there will be any after affects going into his fight against the hard hitting Shafikov on Friday night. If there is, you can bet that Shafikov will expose them.

#3 IBF, #8 WBC Commey needs a win over the 5’5” Shafikov for him to get a second shot against Easter Jr. The 31-year-old Shafikov could spoil Commey’s chances for a rematch against Easter Jr., because he’s going to be putting a lot of pressure on him the entire fight. The southpaw Shafikov is coming off of a big 10th round TKO win over previously unbeaten Jamel Herring (15-1, 8 KOs) last July in Reading, Pennsylvania. It was a dominating performance by Shafikov in beating a very good fighter. In Shafikov’s fight before that, he was beaten by Rances Barthelemey by a 12 round unanimous decision last year in December.

Commey is from Ghana, and has mostly fought against weaker opposition until recently when he stepped it up a level to fight Easter Jr. for the vacant IBF 135lb title. Before that fight, Commey’s best opponents had come against Prince Ofotsu, Gary Buckland, Bahodir Mamadjonov, Paul Truscott and Bilal Mohammad. Those guys were nowhere near as good as Easter Jr., and not surprisingly, Commey didn’t do as well against him as he could have if he’d been properly prepared.

Shafikov is a great opponent to get Commey ready for a second fight against Easter Jr. The one negative thing about Commey fighting Shafikov rather than someone else is the height difference between him and Easter. Shafikov is only 5’5” compared to the 5’11” Easter Jr. It’s not the ideal guy to fight in order for Commey to get ready for a guy as tall as Easter Jr.

Commey thinks he should have won the fight against Easter Jr. last September. Unfortunately for Commey, two of the judges disagreed with him, as they gave the fight to Easter Jr. Commey fought well, but he wasn’t consistent enough in there to get the win. Had Commey won round 12, he would have gotten the win, but he was hurt and almost finished off by the taller American fighter.

Commey said this via ESPN.com about his match against Shafikov:

“I’m ready. We’ve known about this fight for a long time so I’ve been training hard at home in preparation,” Commey said. “Of course, I won that fight, but I’m following the declaration of the IBF and facing Shafikov for the right to challenge Easter for the belt again,” Commey said. “That’s what I’m after, another shot at Easter.”

This is going to be tough for Commey to come into Russian to fight Shafikov in front of his own Russian boxing fans. Shafikov fights well when he’s being cheered. Shafikov wants to turn the fight into a war against Commey, because that’s the type of matches that he does well in. Shafiko thrives when his opponents are slugging with him. Commey knows only one style of fighting and that’s to slug with his opponents.

This is Shafikov’s big chance to get a title shot of his own by beating Commey. This would be a big deal if Shafikov could beat Commey in order to get a title shot. Most boxing fans see Commey as winning this fight. However, Shafikov is catching Commey at the right time with him coming off of a grueling fight each Easter Jr. Shafikov will be testing Commey’s chin from the 1st round to see if he can still take a shot without getting staggered or dropped.
“I’ve seen Shafikov fight,” Commey said. “He’s very aggressive and I’ll need to use my boxing skills and be smart to win.”

For Commeys’s sake, he definitely needs to focus on his boxing skills for this fight against Shafikov, because he didn’t do that against Easter Jr. in his last fight. Commey was slugging way too much, and getting hit a lot. In the end, Commey got tired and got nailed with a big punch that hurt him. If Commey could use his size and reach, he could make this an easy fight for him.

Shafikov is coming into this fight on a high with his win over the 2012 U.S Olympian Herring in his last fight. Shafikov will have that confidence, and he’ll have the Russian crowd backing him. Commey is going to need to fight really well for him to get the win. Shafikov has never been knocked out in his 13-year-old pro career, so Commey won’t be able to count on getting a knockout in this fight like he’s done in most of his others. Before Commey’s last fight against Easter, he hadn’t had one of his fights go to a decision since 2014.


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