By Peter Lerner: Denis Shafikov last night retained his European light welter title and cleaned up the only blemish on his record by unanimously outpointing Brunet Zamora in Ufa, Russia. These two had previously drawn over twelve in 2010, with a fair share of neutral observers feeling Zamora had been very unlucky not to get the verdict in that Saint Petersburg fight. This time round Shafikov was clearly the winner. The verdict was unfortunately only given in Russian but according to BoxRec the judges had it 117-111, 117-112 and 117-113 for the sharp southpaw. Secondsout had it a little closer at 116-112.
This was a cagey fight with the mutual respect for one another’s abilities accentuating what are already two rather careful styles. Although Shafikov likes to apply pressure at almost all times, he rarely commits himself more than he needs to or can get away with against an opponent he respects. Zamora is naturally circumspect, something of a watcher and waiter in the ring.
Shafikov was just that bit busier throughout, generally showing more initiative and variety: whereas Zamora would look almost exclusively for the right hand, Shafikov was capable not only with the left up and down but also a sneaky right hook and lead uppercut on the inside. Zamora, originally from Cuba but living in Italy since his early amateur days, had his best rounds in the fifth, sixth and ninth when he managed to get the Russian’s attention with clean right hands. Most of the time, however, he simply wasn’t urgent enough to take the champion out of his stride. Shafikov is deceptively quick and his nimble left handed raids were often the difference in the rounds.
Shafikov is now 29-0-1 (17) and this was his second defence of the title he won with an emphatic win over another Italian (Zamora holds Italian citizenship), Giuseppe Lauri. He’s ranked 8th with the WBC. Zamora lost for the first time and is now 22-1-2 (10), with the other draw on his record being a twelve-rounder in Panama last year against Alberto Mosquera for the interim WBA title.
It’s worth noting that this fight between a fur-clad man from the edge of Siberia who calls himself Ghengis Khan and a salsa-loving Cuban living in Italy was marked by a refreshing level of sportsmanship and respect. At one point Zamora was spun round and Shafikov instinctively attacked him from behind before realising that what he was doing wasn’t completely sporting. He threw his hands to his head, said sorry and seemed genuinely aghast that he had fouled his opponent. His cry of regret was more becoming of a man who accidentally treads on the family pet. It was nice to see but it never got to the levels of mutual-loving one occasionally sees and the sharp competitive edge of the fight was never blunted.