By Ian S Palmer
WBA Super World Cruiserweight Champion Denis Lebedev of Russia will be taking Mark Flanagan of Australia over in Russia this Sunday, July 9th. Lebedev last fought in December when he lost his IBF title to fellow countryman Murat Gassiev. Meanwhile, Flanagan’s last fight was a fifth-round stoppage of Isileli Fa in March. This will be Flanagan’s first shot at a world title after holding various regional belts and the Australian championship.
The 37-year-old Lebedev is an awkward, but effective southpaw who has a record of 29-2 along with 22 Kos. He was on a nine-fight winning streak until losing to Gassiev in December. Other than losing to Gassiev le’s also been beaten by Marco Huck on a split decision in 2010. Lebedev likes to brawl and he’s pretty good at it as he owns a knockout ratio of 69 per cent in his 183 pro rounds. He’s got a solid chin even though Jones stopped him.
Lebedev stands 5-feet-11-inches tall with a 71.5-inch reach. He’s beaten some good boxers since turning pro in 2001 such as Roy Jones Jr, James Toney, Pawel Kolodziej, Lateef Kayode, Victor Ramirez and Enzo Maccarinelli. He also fought Guillermo Jones in 2013 and was stopped in the 13th round, but the result was later changed to a no-contest after Jones failed a post-fight drug test. Lebedev was the WBA Cruiserweight Champ at the time and was given his title back.
Lebedev is a good combination puncher, but isn’t interested in hearing the judges’ scorecards at the end of his fights. He knows he has a lot of dynamite in his fists and isn’t afraid to let them go and initiate a slugfest. Eight of his past 10 victories have been by knockout and will be looking to do the same against Flanagan. The challenger will have a decent chance though if he can stand up to Lebedev’s power and land some telling blows of his own, but that might be easier said than done.
The 27-year-old Flanagan will climb into the ring with a record of 22-4 with 15 Kos. He turned pro back in 2009 and has fought 128 rounds since then. He’s also got good pretty power in his fists as his current knockout ratio stands at 58 per cent. Unfortunately, Flanagan’s height and reach are both unlisted at the moment. He’s been stopped once in his four losses, which came at the hands of Manny Vlamis in the sixth round of their bout in April of 2011.
Flanagan has also lost on points to Ben McCulloch in 2011, Philip Maley in 2010 and Daniel MacKinnon in 2013. He’s definitely lacking in experience since he’s been fighting a steady diet of Grade B and C opponents. He’ll certainly be taking a big step up in class against Lebedev. However, he should have a bit of momentum on his side as he’s on an 11-fight winning streak with nine of those victories coming by KO.
Lebedev is slowing down with age, but s still one of the best in the division. Flanagan is fighting outside of Australia for the first time. However, he has the edge in age and mobility. He also has decent power and has a puncher’s chance. I think his lack of quality opposition will hurt him though and expect Lebedev to keep his title.