Dmitry Pirog retained his WBO middleweight title today in Moscow, defeating a very tough and very game Nobuhiro Ishida by wide unanimous decision scores. The three judges ringside scored the bout 119-109, 117-111, and 120-108. Bad Left Hook scored the fight 118-110 for Pirog.
Pirog (20-0, 15 KO) didn't have it easy today, as the Japanese veteran showed up for more than a paycheck. Ishida (24-8-2, 7 KO) came to win this fight, but after a very tight first four rounds, the fight just started going Pirog's way. The Russian was able to use his superior overall skill set to outclass Ishida, who kept charging until the very final bell, even though he was hurt in the late rounds.
It was a better-than-expected fight, an entertaining affair with little to no clinching and plenty of punch output from both guys. Ishida's downfall was mostly a result of his very leaky defense and his complete lack of punching power, but both were to be expected. His going toe-to-toe with Pirog and not backing off probably wasn't what most had in mind, though.
While the fight itself was fun to watch and deserves praise on that front, let's not forget, though, that this is the same Nobuhiro Ishida who was blown out by Paul Williams less than three months ago. Frankly, he had no business fighting for a world title today. That's nothing against Ishida -- he got his shot and treated it like the chance of a lifetime. And it's nothing against Pirog, either, who fought well and won as he should have, and didn't come off as surprised that Ishida was no easy out today.
Pirog's team, however, has got to get serious if they want him to be more than a local attraction in Russia. If that's what they want to do, that's fine, but they should probably stop hounding the media with stories of Pirog being ducked by this guy or that guy, since when it comes time to make their own fights, they've taken opponents who posed little threat for three straight fights now.
All that can be put aside if the deal comes through for Pirog to unify with IBF titleholder Daniel Geale of Australia this fall on HBO. There have been legitimate talks about putting that fight together with the network. Geale is promoted by Gary Shaw, and Pirog has American reps, too, at Banner Boxing. It's a good fight for both guys -- outside of fighting Felix Sturm, it's as good a fight as either of them are going to find. Right now, they're both holding belts hostage and fighting fairly easy opponents. Against each other, they'd be facing true measuring sticks.
Here's hoping it happens. The one thing missing from this division, for the most part, is the best fighting the best. There are so many guys who seem to be on about the same level, because it's hard to tell how good Pirog is when he fights Ishida and Gennady Martirosyan, and hard to tell how good Geale is when he fights Osumanu Adama and Eromosele Albert. Let's see who's better. Let's see who the real contender might be.
Vyacheslav Glazkov TKO-7 Gbenga Oloukun
Oloukun (19-8, 12 KO) continues in his role as stepping stone, as the Nigerian heavyweight gave a decent effort before being broken down. Glazkov (12-0, 9 KO) is a bit old for a prospect in some ways at 27, but the former Olympic bronze medalist got a late start as a pro because his amateur career was lengthy. He's got the fundamentals and has some pop, and at 6'3" he's neither too small to go far nor a lumbering behemoth who totally sucks to watch. I'm still a bit lukewarm on him, but anyone with an Olympic pedigree who isn't Deontay Wilder is worth following at least a little bit.