Denis Lebedev vs. Mark Flanagan – Results
By Jim Dower: WBA Super World cruiserweight champion Denis Lebedev (30-2, 22 KOs) pounded out a rather easy 12 round unanimous decision win over #6 WBA Mark Flanagan (22-4, 15 Kos) on Sunday night at the DIVS in Ekaterinburg, Russia.
The judges scored the fight 119-108, 120-107 and 119-108. Boxing News 24 gave Lebedev the ‘W’ by the score 120-107. Lebedev dropped the 27-year-old Flanagan with a left to the body in round 9. There were 4 close rounds in rounds 1, 2, 6 and 10. The only round of the fight that you could make an argument for Flanagan winning was the 6th and that was a toss-up round that could have gone either way.
This fight showed Lebedev’s age to a certain extent. He wasn’t impressive despite winning a one-sided decision. A younger version of Lebedev would have made it easy beating a limited fighter like Flanagan. Lebedev is getting up there in age at 37, and he took a lot of punishment in his last fight against Russian Murat Gassiev, who has one-punch power. Lebedev took a lot of massive shots from Gassiev in their fight last December. Grueling fights like that have a way of aging a fighter.
Flanagan was getting worked over by Lebedev all night long. The southpaw Lebedev was catching Flanagan with hard left hands to the head, right hooks and jabs. Lebedev looked very good. He didn’t have to worry about Flanagan’s power, because he’s not much of a puncher. It would have been a different story if Flanagan could punch like Lebedev’s last opponent Murat Gassiev. Lebedev would have been in trouble of that were the case.
As the fight wore on, it was clear that Flanagan was tiring and he was taking of shots. After Flanagan was dropped in the 9th, he came out quickly at the start of the 10th and landed a big right hand to the head of Lebedev. However, Lebedev calmly went back to work, hitting Flanagan with lefts, and big right hooks to control the round. Flanagan didn’t have the talent to do much despite his eagerness to try and rally to get back into the fight.
Flanagan needed more than just motivation for him to beat the superior Lebedev. He needed talent, and he was short on that. In the midpoint of the 10th, Flanagan walked into a tremendous left hand from Lebedev that stopped his momentum entirely in the round. From that point on, Lebedev was just teeing off on Flanagan for the remainder of the 10th. Flanagan wanted to try and make something happen, but he kept getting hit by Lebedev’s big power shots. Lebedev was able to load up on his uppercuts and hooks to get the better of Flanagan.
In the 11th, Lebedev started to throw more shots. Flanagan couldn’t match Lebedev’s work rate. He was trying, but he didn’t have the engine to get the job done.
The Russian boxing fans at ringside weren’t going crazy during the fight. There was no point, as the fight was one-sided. it was too one-sided for any drama. Lebedev was putting in a workmanlike performance in pounding the over-matched Flanagan and making it look easy. Flanagan couldn’t come back with much to answer Lebedev back, because it would have meant putting his own chin on the line to land his shots, and he was unwilling and unable to do that.
The Australian Flanagan didn’t do much to earn his title shot against Lebedev. In looking at Flanagan’s resume, there were no talented fighters of note on his entire eight-year resume. It was mostly journeyman and lower level 3rd tier opposition. The WBA still gave Flanagan a high ranking with their organization despite the lack of quality opposition.
It’s too bad Lebedev didn’t fight Flanagan in Australia. He might have been able to take advantage of the huge interest in boxing in that country. We just saw Australian Jeff Horn fight WBO welterweight champion Manny Pacquiao last weekend in front of 50,000 boxing fans in Brisbane, Australia. Horn didn’t do much other than use his size advantage over Pacquiao to rough him up for 12 rounds to win a controversial decision. Flanagan might have had a chance of winning if he could have fought in Australia in front of large crowd of supporters.
Lebedev, 37, was fortunate to even have his World Boxing Association title, since he had lost his last fight to Murat Gassiev by a 12-round split decision on December 3 in Moscow, Russia. Instead of both of Lebedev’s titles being on the line, he was able to fight Gassiev with just his IBF belt up for grabs. For some reason, the WBA didn’t strip Lebedev of his title after the loss. Some sanctioning bodies would have done that. You don’t see that too often with champions only putting up one of their titles but not all of them for their title defenses.
It’s difficult to imagine Lebedev holding onto his WBA title for much longer. Of course, if he can continue to make voluntary defenses like tonight’s mismatch, he might be able to hold onto his WBA title for another 3 to 4 years. The WBA’s top 15 rankings at cruiserweight are woeful. There are a lot of weaker guys that lack the talent to beat Lebedev. Never the less, Lebedev would struggle against each the guys the WBA ranked.
If Lebedev can keep making voluntary defenses, he might last a good while longer. I don’t see him beating a good contender right now. It’s a good thing Lebedev isn’t completing in the World Boxing Super Series with the other top cruiserweights in the tournament. The last thing Lebedev needs right now is for him to have to get back in the ring with the likes of Gassiev a second time. Lebedev also would have problems against guys like Mairis Briedis, Oleksandr Usyk, Marco Huck, Mike Perez and Dmitry Kudryashov.
In other results on the card, undefeated Quadratillo Abduqaxrov 12-0, 8 KOs) defeated Dmitry Mikhaylenko (22-2, 10 KOs) by a 12 round unanimous decision to capture the WBC silver welterweight title. Abduqaxrov was too busy for Mikhaylenko to deal with in the fight.