Today's heavyweight boxing action is pretty solid, and that's a good thing because after today the rest of March is a wasteland. But today, two top-ten boxers are in action. Later tonight, #10 Luis Ortiz takes on #43 Tony Thompson, and in just minutes, #7 Ruslan Chagaev tries to hold off a challenge from #18 Lucas Browne is Grozny, Chechnya.
Incredibly, Chagaev has been in our top ten for just over 9 years, with losses only to #2 Wladmimir Klitschko and #3 Alex Povetkin. Browne is undefeated at 23-0-0 with 20 knockouts. The two are roughly the same age but Chagaev has more wear on him, and in some recent bouts has been sluggish. Still, on a skill level only there's no comparison as Chagaev was an amateur world champion while Browne started in MMA before taking up boxing as a pro only 7 years ago.
In an action-packed run-up fight, #119 ranked Edmund Gerber stopped #205 Brian Minto in the 2nd round.
From a rankings standpoint, Chagaev will likely hold at #7 with a win, while Browne would jump to around the same if he gets the upset.
The headline fight is nearly ready to start.
- Round 1: Browne is moving a lot with Chagaev at the center of the ring. Chagaev looks a bit pudgy but appears more active than he did in his more sluggish outings. Browne is working the jab from the outside. Both fighters looking to connect first rather than counter, leading to a lot of gloves meeting. Chagaev had the only real contact of the round, but Browne held his own well. Chagaev 10-9.
- Round 2: Busy jabs from Browne to start the round and keep Chagaev at bay. Browne able to follow up with right hands against the southpaw, too. Chagaev already looking a bit flat-footed in the 2nd round. Browne's jab keeps Chagaev out, Chagaev manages a flurry that backs Browne up but no damage done. A left hand does sneak in and stumble Browne back again. Hard to score but we'll even it up. Browne 10-9; 19-19.
- Round 3: Browne lunges with a right but misses. Wrestling at center ring is broken up at the ropes. Browne pawing, circling around as Chagaev holds at center ring. Browne comes in with a few short uppercuts. Chagaev not pulling the trigger much, gets in a good jab, Browne returns fire. Flurry from both with Chagaev scoring. Late exchange. Another close round, no one in trouble. Chagaev 10-9; 29-28.
- Round 4: Browne starts the round busy again, and scores pushing the pace. Very busy through the first minute, but Chagaev comes back with shots of his own. Fight is getting much more interesting, starting to look like Gerber-Minto for a bit. Chagaev stalking more in the 2nd half of round, firing with left hooks. Exchanges late, but Browne's early agressiveness might have won a close round. Browne 10-9; 38-38.
- Round 5: Browne more measured at the stat, working short jabs and trying to move around the perimeter. Browne is fighting a smart fight, trying to negate Chagaev's advantages and wear him down. Chagaev's guard is up, blocking most of what Browne is throwing. Chagaev connects with some good shots that might have wobbled Browne but he looks ok. Browne leads with his shoulder coming in and Chagaev bounces him off and lands a few good punches. Browne gets his own in with Chagaev against the ropes. Last 30 seconds are even exchanges. Close again, but Chagaev had most meaningful connections. Chagaev 10-9; 48-47.
- Round 6: Very even fight so far, if scored wholistically. Browne jabs in, Chagaev whiffs with looping left. He gets a good left in later, however. Chagaev winning the infighting as Browne isn't circling. Browne pushes Chagaev to the ropes and connects with an uppercut. Chagaev left blocked by Browne's shoulder. Chagaev combination is effective. Chagaev left FLOORS Browne, huge punch with 30-45 seconds left. Chagaev trying to pour it on but looks tired. Another punch connects and wobbles Browne. Bell sounds and Chagaev is still punching as no one heard it in the ring. Chagaev 10-8; 58-55.
- Round 7: Browne is cut and looks a bit unsteady to start the round. Browne throws three uppercuts that connect as Chagaev gets lazy in his defense. Browne is all uppercuts but is having success as he tries to pour on his offense. Chagaev being careful and is probably tired after last round's work. Browne is hit with a left but unleashes a flurry of punches. Chagaev returns fire, but Browne survives the round, and probably won it. The bell seemed to ring early by at least 30 seconds. Browne 10-9; Chagaev 67-65.
- Round 8: With Browne the walking dead and Chagaev gassed, it's almost back to square one with the fighters looking tentative, and after last round there are a lot fewer punches thrown than last round. Chagaev gets one good left in but not much else is connecting. Browne is trying to produce some jabs. Neither fighter doing much as Browne is being evasive and has his legs back for the most part. 10-10; Chagaev 77-75.
- Round 9: Browne looks recovered and still has a real chance to win, depending on how tired Chagaev is. But he's got some work to do in the last four rounds if he wants to pull off an amazing comeback. More tentative action early in the 9th. The two mix it up a bit inside. A lot of missed jabs and arm punches from the fighters. Chagaev starting to look recovered from his gassedness, too, so maybe the 10th round will be better from both fighters. 10-10; Chagaev 87-85.
- Round 10: By our accounting Browne needs to take the last three rounds to win, but it's been a fight full of close rounds. Browne comes out jabbing, Chagaev returns fire with a straight left. Chagaev backs Browne to the ropes but can't take advantage. Browne dancing like he did early in the fight, Chagaev stalking. Short shots from Browne finding their way in past Chagaev's defenses. Browne right hand stumbles Chagaev and he is down, Browne has Chagaev in trouble against the rope, fight is stopped, with BROWNE UPSETTING CHAGAEV.
A huge, amazing comeback by Lucas Browne, who was nearly stopped in Round 6, survived, slowly came back, and stunned Chagaev with a shot that made him stumble and fall. Chagaev never quite recovered from the knockdown, and took a dozen shots without returning fire, and the ref had no choice but to stop the right.
Stunning work by Browne, who looked to have dug himself a deep hole but got out of it by employing more boxing skill than he ever had in the past, and won the fight by using his power, something he's always had.
All in all this was a great fight, something the heavyweight division doesn't have enough of these days. Lucas Browne will jump into our top ten at #7 and now holds the WBA "World" Heavyweight belt. Ruslan Chagaev falls out of the top ten for the first time since November of 2006, as Browne is only the third fighter to beat Chagaev in a pro bout.