Ismayl Sillakh has been considered the future at 175 pounds by many knowledgeable boxing people, but tonight in Austin, Texas, the blue chipper was stunned by unheralded prospect and ex-kickboxer Denis Grachev, trying to coast to decision and winding up stopped in the eighth round.
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Grachev (12-0-1, 8 KO) was a massive underdog here, with many already considering Sillakh (17-1, 14 KO) a top ten light heavyweight. But Sillakh was drawing poor live reviews despite rather easily winning most of the fight, with many saying they weren't impressed, as Sillakh's lack of killer instinct pleased no one. He had Grachev down in the third round, but didn't finish him, and in the end, the inability to dispose of what really was an inferior opponent wound up biting him hard.
It's a pretty enormous setback for Sillakh, who recently claimed that both Jean Pascal and Zsolt Erdei ducked fights with him. A real examination of his record reveals a guy whose best win came over Yordanis Despaigne, which was followed last year by two crap fights in Russia, as he went over on the Roy Jones and James Toney flights when those two lost to Denis Lebedev.
This is certainly not to say that Sillakh, 27, will never make it as a top fighter. He's got talent to spare, but he makes a lot of mistakes, and fights with an arrogance that now doesn't look like it matches his overall physical package. He seems to sometimes not really know how to get the most out of his tools.
Grachev, meanwhile, has power and didn't get discouraged. He had big disadvantages in technique and speed, but he kept looking for a way to win, and ultimately found it. He may not have the biggest upside, but he earned his victory and shot down a real deal prospect tonight.