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Friday, November 1, 2019

Four Jewish Boxers Fight in Boxing Event to Help Kids with Special Needs

Four Jewish boxers were featured on a four-fight card at the Jewish Cultural Center Beit Grand in Odessa, Ukraine last Sunday. Igor Lazarev, Miroslav Kapuler, Yotham Shalom, and Aki Azrael Mishaev competed in separate bouts for a charity event. The night raised funds to help kids with special needs. To make a donation to this worthy cause, please follow this link.

British Jewish boxer Tony Milch, who was originally scheduled to fight on the card, but suffered a cut in training, opened the night with an in-ring introduction, and he worked Shalom's corner. In addition to this event, Milch is working on another positive project. He founded Gloves and Doves, which is focused on contributing to peace through boxing in the Middle East.

In the main event, Igor Lazarev outworked Dmytro Kostenko to win by unanimous decision. Igor, a 33 year old lightweight from Israel, is fun to watch. He constantly throws punches and is aggressive from the opening bell or, in this case, gong (the timekeeper had a gong with Chinese kanji on it). In the past, the Ashdod resident had been too wild while pressuring, but he displayed impressive control while mounting his offense in this one.  Lazarev is a ferocious body puncher with either hand and showed it in this bout.

Kostenko is a 41 year old from Ukraine who sports a poor record- only two wins in 19 previous fights. However, 17 of his 20 fights have taken place in the past two years, and he's never been stopped. He fought like a man with that track record. Dmytro was a competent counterpuncher who amazingly withstood Lazarev's sustained body assault.

Kostenko landed some nice left hooks to the head in the second round. He connected with some straight rights in the fourth. He was feeling so good, he taunted Lazarev in the fifth. Lazarev didn't take kindly to the taunts, and after taking some more body shots Kostenko soon spit out the mouthpiece to buy some time. The Ukrainian lost his mouthpiece twice more, in the sixth and in the eighth, and both times he absorbed body blows. Referee Vadym Lavrenets probably should have been more proactive in curtaining Kostenko's mouthpiece spitting.

Make no mistake though, Lazarev wont he first five rounds handily with pressure, body punches, and a sprinkle of counters for good measure. This was the first time Lazarev has seen the seventh round in his career and he did get touched more in the sixth and seventh, but he finished strong. He may well have been the first fighter to stop Kostenko had the veteran not intentionally lost his mouthpiece those three times.

Lazarev improves to 5-0 with two KOs after the judges scored the bout 80-72, 79-73, and 79-74 in his favor. Kostenko is 2-17-1 with all of his fights going the distance.

Miroslav Kapuler, a 22 year old Israeli junior middleweight made his debut on the card. He defeated another debuting fighter, Stanislav Davydenko a 23 year old from Ukraine. Kapuler, a southpaw, took control of center ring from the outset. Davydenko was defensive-minded even though the fight started slowly. Midway through the round, Kapuler landed some hard lefts to the body. A bit later, he landed a perfect straight left to the body. Davydenko folded and stayed down for the ten count.

Kapuler is now 1-0 with one KO and Davydenko is 0-1.

Yotham Shalom controlled the action against Piotr Ghilas with his speed and his hit-and-don't-get-hit style to win a unanimous decision. In the first two rounds, Ghilas, a 29 year old from Moldova, looked like an angry pedestrian chasing a speeding car that just swiped him. He hopelessly followed Shalom, who landed head-snapping shots from the outside with impressive speed and got out of harm's way just as fast.

Shalom, who hadn't fought in a professional boxing match in nearly two years, slowed a bit in the third. He was still too fast for Ghilas who only managed to touch Shalom's gloves on occasion. Shalom switched to southpaw for a bit in the stanza and landed eye-catching lead lefts from range.

Shalom attacked to start the fourth but quickly reverted to his typical style of stick-and-moving. Ghilas, who was badly outclassed in the first three rounds, did have moments of true success in the final round, but he paid the price. Shalom had landed countless punches that staggered Ghilas all fight and in the last period, the Moldovan's was hit cleanly so many times, he looked like a bobblehead doll.

Shalom's speed and boxing ability were impressive, but he could have followed up his stagger-inducing shots and perhaps earned a knockout. He always chose to box instead. He also circled to his left, directly into an orthodox fighter's strong hand. Against this particular opponent, it didn't matter, but it might be a different story against a better foe.

Notably, Shalom weighed in as a featherweight while Ghilas was a lightweight. Shalom rightly swept the three judges' scorecards, 40-36 to advance to 2-0-1 with one KO. Ghilas is now 0-2 and has yet to win a round in his professional career.

In the opening bout of the evening, Aki Azrael Mishaev defeated Gheorghi Croitor by unanimous decision. Mishaev, a 33 year old junior middleweight from Israel, entered with a menacing camouflage headscarf. Both fighters jabbed, moved, and bounced in the first round. Mishaev landed several heavy rights to the body and a left hook up top during the round. Croitor, a 22-year old from Moldova, retaliated by throwing left hooks to the body.

In the second, Croitor decided to pressure, abandoning the jab. It didn't work and Mishaev threw a double jab-right uppercut combination that was the best rally of the round. He potshotted and used his slick yet awkward movement to avoid Croitor's attempts.

Mishaev felt more confident in the third and began walking down the game Moldovan. The Israeli even switched to southpaw briefly. Mishaev went for the knockout in the final round, throwing huge power shots while grunting loudly. Some landed, but none put Croitor in any real danger. Croitor did seem tired by the time the final gong rang.

Mishaev, whose first name is listed as Arkadi on BoxRec, won with scores of 40-36, 40-37, 39-37. He is now 1-0. Croiter is 0-3, but exhibited far more skill than his record suggests. The problem for the Moldovan was Mishaev seemed to have a game plan whereas Croitor didn't.

The fights can be watched here.

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