Australia's Lucas Browne won the WBA "world" heavyweight title today in Grozny, Russia, stunning the favored home fighter Ruslan Chagaev by rallying to a 10th round TKO victory, having climbed off the canvas himself earlier in the bout.
Browne (24-0, 21 KO) trailed 88-82 on our unofficial card after nine rounds. Though he was putting up a very tough fight and proving himself a gritty challenger, he was often somewhat outclassed by Chagaev (34-3-1, 21 KO), a more solid all-around fighter, with much more experience.
Chagaev, 37, dropped Browne late in the sixth round, and had the big Aussie in some real trouble. That round went 10 or 15 seconds too long, as well, with Chagaev landing shots after the bell. Chagaev came out looking for the stoppage in the seventh, but didn't find it, and Browne continued to stand his ground and do his best to push Chagaev back in bits of aggression, largely relying on a right uppercut and plenty of movement to try and prevent Chagaev from getting set for his own offense.
In the ninth round, both fighters looked clearly tired, with Chagaev maybe having expended too much energy in the seventh round in particular, looking for the finish. With about a minute left in the 10th round, Chagaev was caught with a hard right hand that put him on the canvas, clearly dazed. When he got up, there just wasn't much left, and Browne pounced, firing off a massive assault that had Chagaev careening around the ring, held up by the ropes, it seemed, more than anything else. Eventually, referee Stanley Christodoulou was forced to step in.
Browne, 36, turned pro seven years ago, when he was just shy of his 30th birthday. Though the WBA "world" heavyweight title won't get him legitimate respect as "world heavyweight champion" -- after all, the WBA's "super world" champion is Tyson Fury, considered the true champion of the division -- it still represents him beating the odds and becoming a legitimate professional heavyweight boxer and contender. And even if the belt doesn't mean a lot, it's hard not to like the story.