In Elk, Poland this afternoon, Rafal Jackiewicz scored a unanimous decision over Delvin Rodriguez in a relatively entertaining fight, making himself the mandatory to face Isaac Hlathswayo. Jackiewicz has eight losses in his career, and at one point looked like a standard European journeyman, but has now gone undefeated for the past four years, with good wins in each of his last four fights.
The fight itself was one of those that was tough to score, although the rowdy pro-Jackiewicz crowd certainly helped the judges make their decisions. Almost universally through the fight, Rodriguez kept up a much higher workrate than Jackiewicz, but he wasn't particularly accurate, and the punches that did land mostly didn't do a ton of damage. On the other hand, Jackiewicz had a very low workrate, but he was relatively accurate on the occasions when he did throw punches, and even his jabs that landed seemed to snap Rodriguez's head back. The judges came back with a very unusual set of official scorecards, scoring the fight 117-116, 115-112 and 114-112, all in favor of Jackiewicz. Bad Left Hook officially scored the fight 117-111 for Rodriguez, with an acknowledgment that the final scores could look very different due to the style differences between the two fighters.
The early rounds of the fight were all very close, with Rodriguez controlling the distance with jabs and occasional combinations, but Jackiewicz landing the more solid shots when he threw. In the fifth round, Jackiewicz buzzed Rodriguez with a right hand in what was his most convincing round of the night. In the sixth, Rodriguez came right back, landing a perfect 1-2 jab-straight combination that landed square on the nose, badly hurting Jackiewicz and eventually leading to a knockdown. Despite having nearly two minutes to put Jackiewicz away and Jackiewicz being on wobbly legs the rest of the round, Delvin's inaccuracy failed him, and he was unable to knock out the sturdy Pole. This ended up being his downfall, as it appears that if there was any argument to give Jackiewicz a round, the judges did so (and it seems like one of them decided to score any round that was even remotely close as 10-10).
This sets up a title shot for Jackiewicz, which he will likely get to have at home in Poland. Hlathswayo isn't a major draw anywhere, and Jackiewicz has been getting good support from Polsat in Poland. Based on what I've seen of him, he'll have a good shot at defeating the South African, especially if he has a home crowd behind him. For Delvin, it's back to the drawing board. He's suffered a bit of tough luck lately, losing tonight's fight that could have been a victory, and only getting a draw in a fight against Hlathswayo in South Africa where the decision (initially a decision for Hlathswayo, but later changed to a draw due to scoring error) was booed by the crowd. Two things really hurt him in this fight, and maybe he can work on these. One was that he was just very inaccurate with his punches. Had he landed more, he might have won more rounds, but very little that he threw landed cleanly. The second was that pretty much every punch that hit him snapped his head back. If he works on neck strength, then maybe it would look less like he's hurt by every punch, and he'd be more likely to win rounds.
On the undercard, Krzysztof "Diablo" Wlodarczyk scored a wide and easy decision over Konstantin Semerdjiev. The former titlist is a mandatory for the cruiserweight belt that Zsolt Erdei won last weekend. Also on the undercard, Tomasz Hutkowski improved his record to 16-0 by winning a unanimous decision over Ismail Abdoul in a deathly boring and thoroughly unimpressive fight.