Iran’s Ehsan Rouzbahani claimed the inaugural AIBA Pro Boxing (APB) light-heavyweight title in Sofia, Bulgaria last night.
The top Persian fighter beat Joe Kennedy St Pierre of Mauritus on a unanimous decision in the Bulgarian capital.
Rousbahani edged Ireland’s Joe Ward, who was just 17 at the time – although his young age didn’t stop him winning a European Elite title that year –,on a countback after a 15-15 tie in the last 16 at the 2011 AIBA World Elite Championships in Baku, Azerbaijan.
Ward was also in action on the Sofia APB card last last evening, the Irish southpaw improving to three wins from four after taking five of the six rounds against Bulgaria’s Spas Genov, who has returned to fight in APB after racking up an unblemished pro record of seven straight wins, six by way of KO.
Meanwhile Kazakhstan’s Berik Abdrakhmanov beat Uzbekistan’s Hurshid Tojibaev in Astana, Kazakhstan on Friday to improve to 4 and 0 and secure the inaugural APB lightweight crown.
Abdrakhmanov, with home advantage, shaded David Oliver Joyce on a majority decision (58-56,58-56,57-57) in APB last October. Joyce (2-0-2) lost on a majority decision to Russian southpaw Dmitry Polanyskiy on last evening’s card in Astana.
Both Joyce and Ward, regardless of last night’s results, now have two APB fights each remaining. If they win both outings, which are effectively quarter and semi-finals, they will qualify for the 2016 Olympics Games and the APB light-heavyweight and lightweight finals. France’s Mathieu Bauderlique will almost certainly be the opponent for Joe Ward’s next fight, although this has yet to be confirmed by AIBA.
Either way, and with the opponents and venues to be decided, Joyce and Ward, who were desperately unlucky not to qualify for London 2012, are heading into the biggest fights of their careers this year.
Billy Walsh and Eddie Bolger were working Joyce’s and Ward’s corners in Bulgaria and Kazakhstan last night.