By Derek Bonnett
Premier Boxing Champions on Bounce featured two world championship bouts at the Huntington Center in Toledo, Ohio, USA. Rau’Shee Warren and Robert Easter looked to make the first defenses of their titles in bantamweight and lightweight bouts respectively. Each contest went the twelve round distance, but there was a huge contrast between the action which unfolded in each thirty-six minute bout.
Robert Easter dominated Luis Cruz from the opening bell to the final second of their twelve round bout. Easter looked to win eleven of twelve rounds, mostly with a stiff jab early on and some heavier artillery late in the contest as he sought a KO victory. Cruz struggled early on to cut the distance and remained on the end of Easter’s punches, which looked like the makings for an early evening. Cruz endured, however, and found his way inside to throw and sometimes land hooks to the body and head of the champion. Although dominant, Easter failed to put together the right offense to finish of Cruz in the early or mid-rounds. Late in the fight, Cruz could barely keep his footing as Easter dropped him in the tenth, eleventh, and final rounds.
Easter won the bout 119-106 on SecondsOut’s unofficial scorecard. The official judges saw it 119-106, 118-107, and 117-108. Easter retained his title and lifted his ledger to 19-0-0 (14). Cruz fell to 22-5-1 (16), going 1-3-1 in his last five efforts.
In the co-feature, Rau’Shee Warren looked to have an early night ahead of him as he twice dropped challenger Zhanat Zhakiyanov in round one. Warren hurt Zhakiyanov with an uppercut and put him to the canvas with a left hook. "ZZ", as he is known, rose, but was again felled by a right hand. Warren continued to use good footwork for the next couple of rounds, but the Ricky Hatton-trained Zhakiyanov rebounded well and began pressuring the champion to the ropes and staying on his chest. Reckless at times, Zhakiyanov’s plan was still working as Warren’s offense slowed when crowded. Warren’s speed showed in spurts, but the challenger did the better work from round two on. Warren began holding excessively after the midway mark and appeared lucky to get the nod from one judge en route to losing a split decision.
SecondsOut saw the bout 116-111 for the challenger. Two judges agree giving Zhakiyanov the title by margins of 116-110 and 115-111. The third saw it for Warren 115-111. Zhakiyanov improved his dossier to 27-1-0 (18). Warren fell to 14-2-0 (4).