This Friday evening at the Luzhniki Sports Complex in Moscow, WBA World Cruiserweight Champion Denis Lebedev defends his belt against Congolese fighter Youri Kayembre Kalenga (21-1). Heading into the match, the books are favoring Lebedev to the tune of (-550), with the comeback on Chalemba at (+400). There is no over/under posted. Chalemba has been an active fighter who went (3-0) in 2014 and (4-1) in 2013. Last year he captured an interim piece of the WBA World title when he defeated Mateusz Masternak in Monaco. He then travelled to Canada and defended the interim belt against undefeated Denton Dailey (12-0). The lone loss on his record is back in September of 2013 when he lost to Latvian fighter Arturs Kulikaukis in Latvia. Since then, he has won five in a row, four of those by way of stoppage. At 27 years old, Chalemba is still in his athletic prime, and he sports some power with 14 stoppages in his 21 wins. Lebedev on the other hand is now 35 years old and he has been largely inactive, logging just one fight in the last 23 months. In that fight, he stopped undefeated Pawel Kolodziej (33-0) in the second round, but in his prior outing back in May of 2013, he received a one sided beating at the hands of Panama’s Guillermo Jones that had many observers thinking he may have permanent damage to his eye. Now, Jones tested positive for a banned substance afterwards, and an April of 2014 scheduled re-match fell by the wayside when Jones blew hot on a test again, and that led to him being restored to having a piece of the WBA title. Chalemba is going to have to challenge Lebedev, and he needs to take a page out of Jones book. Despite the failed drug test, Jones beat on Lebedev looking for the stoppage. The Russian Boxing Federation seemed to let Lebedev’s fight with Jones go long, and Chalemba is going to have to end the fight before it gets to the judges. In a Cruiserweight 10 round bout, veteran Rakhim Chakhkiev (-2575) is a solid favorite over rival Valery Brudov, who is returning at (+1300). Chakhkiev competed in the amateurs as a Heavyweight, and the Olympian collected a slew of regional belts at Cruiserweight since turning professional. At (21-1) ovrall, his lone setback came in a WBC World title bid against Krzystof Wlodarczyk where he was stopped in the 8th round back in June of 2013. He has gone (5-0) since and is looking to get back in the world title picture. For his part, the 38 year old veteran Brudov (42-5) has been in with a lot of solid names, including, Guillermo Jones, Virgil Hill, Firat Arslan and Tony Bellew to name a few. But he is a known quantity, and Chakhkiev is expected to come out on top. The card also features several other fights that may appear at the sport books as we approach fight time. In Heavyweight action, France’s Manuel Charr is making his third appearance overall in Russia, and he is facing Johann Duhuapas (31-2) who has been French Heavyweight champion as week as having collected regional titles. Charr is head and shoulders the better fighter, and his competition level is much higher than Duhuapas. The WBA International Cruiserweight title is on the line as undefeated Dmitry Kudryashov (16-0) defends his belt against Francisco Palacios (23-2) in a twelve rounder. Lastly, the vacant IBO World Super Lightweight title is on the line as Eduard Troyanovsky (20-0) faces Aik Shakhnazaryan (15-1).
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