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17 NOVEMBER 2018


Haapoja, Shafikov win EBU belts in Helsinki

By Mikko Salo: Juho Haapoja is the new European cruiserweight champion and Dennis Shafikov the new light welterweight European titlist. The entertaining co-featured main events in P3 Boxing`s ”Double Trouble” card were held in Helsinki Ice Hall, Helsinki, Finland on Friday.

Haapoja (16-2-1, 10KO) scored a hard-earned unanimous decision over game Frenchman Faisal Ibnel Arrami (13-3, 9KO) capturing his first title in the European scene. The Finnish heavyweight-turned-cruiserweight stepped in the ring to fight for the vacant EU title with only two previous contests at the lower weight class.

Haapoja started the bout strong behind his left jab, cutting off the ring and dictating the pace in the early going. Arrami was mainly relying on his fairly effective counter-punching and combinations, but couldn`t connect with anything major as Haapoja pressed the action and scored the bigger shots. Haapoja floored Arrami with a right in the fourth round, but the Frenchman was not visibly hurt by the punch.

From the sixth round onwards Arrami began to pick up the pace and started to throw more combinations. Haapoja still had the initiative, but the reigning French cruiserweight titleholder was able to connect and score regularly. The pace of the fight remained active through rounds eight and nine with some fierce exchanges, Arrami finishing the rounds stronger than Haapoja.

In the tenth, Haapoja was able to move away from Arrami`s punches while scoring with crisp shots to the body and head. Towards the end of the fight Haapoja seemingly tired with Arrami being able to finish the eleventh strong and laying it all on the line in the final round. Haapoja withstood the Frenchman`s assault and landed some of his own while being completely exhausted in the end of the contest.

The scores were 117-110, 114-113, 116-111 in favour of the 30-year-old Finn. Haapoja, trained by the experienced Briton C. J. Hussein, has his sights set on a European title fight in the near future.

In the co-featured main event, 26-year-old Dennis Shafikov (27-0-1, 16KO) of Russia captured the vacant light welterweight European title by scoring a dominant RTD 8 victory over 35-year-old Italian veteran Giuseppe Lauri (52-8, 31KO). From the onset Shafikov was much faster than his two inches taller opponent, scoring at will with hard shots from different angles. Lauri wasn`t able to establish his left jab and had enormous trouble with the Russian southpaw`s bobbing and weaving style.

Lauri kept absorbing huge blows throughout the fight and was in trouble several times before the end came after the eighth round. Shafikov floored Lauri in the eighth with a hard left hand and the Italian seemed ready to quit at that moment. He did rise on the count of nine and survived the round, but was not willing to continue.

After the fight Shafikov stated that he feels ready to challenge for a major world title belt in the light welterweight division, having his eyes set on Amir Khan, Marcos Maidana or Timothy Bradley.

Also on the undercard, the home-ring fighters prevailed. 24-year-old Finnish lightweight prospect Edis Tatli (15-0, 3KO) scored a routine 8-round unanimous decision against 36-year-old former olympian John Nolasco (18-7-4, 8KO) of Dominican Republic. 23-year-old super middleweight Niko Jokinen (14-0, 4KO) was in surprising trouble against 37-year-old Belgian journeyman Mike Algoet (31-38-1, 13KO), getting knocked down in the third but squeezing out a 6-round unanimous decision. Former amateur star Eva Wahlström (6-0-1, 3KO) added to her unbeaten record by TKOing Marisol Reyes (6-5-1, 1KO) of Dominican Republic in the seventh stanza after a convincing performance. Heavyweight Jarno Rosberg (11-0, 4KO) scored a unanimous decision over Briton Paul Butlin (12-16, 3KO).

September 23, 2011

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