The Cruiserweight division takes center stage in Moscow tonight, as WBA World Champion Denis Lebedev (25-2) faces undefeated (33-0) Pawel Kolodziej. Right now, 5Dimes Sportsbook has Lebedev a (-1200) favorite over Kolodziej, who is returning at (+600). Lebedev has been away from competition since May of 2013, when he was knocked out by Guillermo Jones of Panama. To re-cap the Lebedev-Jones saga, Lebedev was beat up, cut badly and dispatched in the 11th when he was face down and the fight was finally stopped. Since then, however Jones, who is 41 years old, tested positive for a banned substance, and the WBA has returned the belt to Lebedev. The WBA have not overturned the official decision on the match, so it still sits as a loss on Lebedev’s record. Lebedev suffered damage to his eye in the first fight that was described as permanent, and he was sent face down in the 11th when Jones realized he would probably lose on the scorecards. Lebedev was nearly blind and bleeding from both eyes. After that bout, the WBA ordered him to defend his belt again against Jones, scheduling the fight for April of 2014. Jones, who is promoted by Don King, supposedly tested positive again and the April match was cancelled just three hours before the contest was to take place. Lebedev’s promoter in Russia sued Don King over the matter, and this is Lebedev’s first fight back since. Lebedev took too much punishment in his last fight with Jones because the Russian Commission apparently was giving him every chance to win, and no one knows what would have happened if the fight had gone to the scorecards, as Lebedev was largely ineffective against Jones. Kolodziej is probably going to have to knock out Lebedev to win this fight. The WBC World Cruiserweight Title is also on the line as Krzysztof Wlodarczyk takes on Grigory Drozd in a match that is nearly a pick ’em at the sport books. At the time of this writing, Drozd sits at (-110) while Wlodarczyk is at (-130). Wlodarczyk is a long-time champion of the weight class who sports a fine (49-2-1) record. but this is his first time going to fight in Russia. Drozd was described by Andrey Ryabinsky, his poromter as not ready for this fight a year ago, however his improvements over the last year have the promotion confident he will walk out with the title. Wlodarczyk is armed with 35 KO stoppages in 49 wins, so he brings enough power to get the stop, which he will likely need to do if he wants to keep his belt. The card also features a WBA World Light welterweight title fight in the female division between Svetlana Kulakova and Ana Laura Esteche. With the heightened attention being received by women’s boxing these days, a line on this fight could potentially pop up at the sport books. If it does, look for Kulakova to be heavily favored over the light hitting Esteche, who likely has to box to win as the KO is not frequently in her repertoire.
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