ESPRIT arena, Düsseldorf, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany – Ola Afolabi (19-2-3, 9 KOs), originally from Nigeria but now representing the United Kingdom, is once again the “interim” WBO world cruiserweight champion. It became clear after Afolabi, 31, had taken the Russian contender and former interim titlist himself Valery Brudov (39-4, 28 KOs) to school in devastative fashion. Referee Gino Rodriguez saved Brudov from his own bravery after the fifth round and rightfully so.
Brudov, who accepted the fight two weeks ago, was rusty but willing to bring some heat to WBO #1 Afolabi, who was also ranked #4 by the WBA and #7 by both the WBC and the IBF (Brudov was rated #8 by the WBO in advance and he was also WBA #14). He marched forward and threw looping shots but the British Nigerian easily slipped them with his supreme defense. He kept Brudov at the end of his jab, while adding stinging right swings on ocassion and left hooks to the body to make Brudov’s diet a bit more diverse.
In round three, Afolabi went after Brudov and landed two right hammering shots to put him down on his knees. Brudov, 35, refused to surrender and continued to fight on. The fourth stanza was also in Ola’s favor. He wasn’t very active but when he opened up he tagged the Russian once again. Punishment continued to accumulate in the fifth. Midst into the round, Afolabi landed several left and right hand bombs, and Brudov went down for the second time. He got up and went on, trying to harm Afolabi at all costs. Costs were cheap, however, as the Nigerian landed several huge right hand bombs at the bell. Brudov didn’t go down but he was too wobbly, and referee Rodriguez did a right thing by bringing a halt to the contest.
Next up for Afolabi could be a showdown with WBO full champion Marco Huck, if the champion decides to stay at the cruiserweight limit.
By Alexey Sukachev