Avtandil Khurtsidze was a short notice opponent for top middleweight prospect Antoine Douglas tonight on Showtime, replacing an injured Sam Soliman, and the 5'4" pressure fighter from Georgia lived up to the highest expectations, outworking and battering Douglas en route to a 10th round stoppage win.
Khurtsidze (32-2-2, 21 KO) started fast, forcing the taller Douglas (19-1-1, 13 KO) to fight his type of fight, a gritty war in the trenches that took away the length of Douglas. Khurtsidze set the tone in the opening round, throwing 123 punches and putting Douglas on notice.
Early in the third round, Khurtsidze dropped Douglas hard, but the prospect got up and kept on fighting. Douglas made a stand for himself in the fourth and fifth rounds, turning up the pressure a bit and landing more consistently against Khurtsidze, who did slow down himself.
But Khurtsidze didn't let the fight get away, coming back strong in the latter half of the sixth round, and then putting Douglas back on the canvas early in the seventh round. From there, Douglas didn't appear to have anything left, never really recovering his legs. He seemed to be fighting largely on instinct in the eighth and ninth rounds, at which point it appeared to be time to get him out of the fight, as he was just taking a beating.
Early in the 10th round, with Khurtsidze pouncing again, referee Benjy Esteves did jump in to stop the fight, which was the right call. This is obviously a big setback for Antoine Douglas, and in many ways reminds one of the Amir Imam-Adrian Granados fight from late last year, where a young fighter got in with a tough guy who just wouldn't stop throwing punches, and the pressure broke them down.