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Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Lazarev to Fight in July in Albania

Lightweight Igor Lazarev is scheduled to fight Kristian Bejko on July 25 in Vlore, Albania. Of course a global pandemic, coronavirus-2019, continues to impact sporting events worldwide. Currently, Albania has about 2,500 cases of the virus and 62 people have died as a result. Daily infection rates have increased in the country in the last two weeks.

Lazarev (6-0, 2 KOs) is a 34 year old resident of Ashdod, Israel. A pressure fighter who attacks the body, Lazarev has fought in Albania twice before. In his last fight, he defeated Stefan Nicolae by majority decision in Kashar, Albania.

Bejko (3-4) is 20 year old  native of Tirana, Albania. He has quicker feet and hands than one might suspect of a 3-4 fighter. Bejko is a counter puncher who looks to land big punches. He doesn't display a lot of nuance in his game. Defensively, he keeps his hands low and relies on his foot-speed to avoid incoming fire. Occasionally he'll try to slip and duck under the punches, but his preferred method is to pull straight back in a haste. That could play right into Lazarev's hands. Igor doesn't possess the fastest hands, but if he follows Bejko when the Albania flees backwards, Lazarev could be in for a big night.

All of Bejko's seven fights have gone the distance. He has power, but doesn't have much imagination when it comes to initiating offense. His best idea thus far has been to try to land a loaded shot from the outside using his foot and hand speed. He rarely jabs and doesn't focus on the body much. He has shown a good chin.

All three of Bejko's wins have come in Albania. In his pro debut, he beat Leandro Xhelili by majority decision in 2018. Lazarev beat Xhelili by split decision last October although the one card that favored Xhelili smelled like home cooking. All four of Bejko's losses have come outside of Albania. Two took place in Italy, one in Denmark, and the other in the Netherlands. His opponents were a combined 4-0 when he faced them with two making their debuts against the young Albanian.

Bejko's flaws seem to play into Lazarev's strengths, but he's no pushover. He has the quickness to land big counters. This contest is slated for four rounds.

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Kaminsky Loses Bruising Split Decision

Super middleweight David Kaminsky lost a bloody six-round battle to Clay Collard tonight inside "The Bubble" at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada tonight. Collard, an awkward pressure fighter, outworked the more skilled southpaw.

Both fighters established their game plans in the opening round. Collard rushed forward with his left leg often crossing in front of his right. He fired punches without concern for proper technique or aesthetics. Meanwhile, Kaminsky kept his hands down, aspiring to showcase his blazing hand speed. Even when the 19 year old Israeli-native landed his quick counters, Collard brushed them off and kept charging. Late in the round, Collard threw a straight right, and the wrist of the glove scratched the skin near Kaminsky's left eye drawing blood in the process.

In the second, Kaminsky managed to time Collard's rushes a bit better and Clay's nose oozed out blood. It was a close round as Kaminsky's hard blows may have overtaken Collard's sheer work-rate. Collard inexplicably stayed on the outside for much of the third round, and Kaminsky shrewdly began attacking the body of the 27 year old from Utah.

Collard snatched the fight back in the fourth. His pressure was relentless, and he managed to punctuate many of his unorthodox combinations with his hard skull. As a result, Kaminsky's face looked like that of an automobile accident victim. Referee Vic Drakulich should have warned Collard about the butts. Kaminsky managed to land an effective body shot in the round, but if an indomitable will determined success, Collard would be a world champion. The fifth and sixth rounds were more of the same. Kaminsky slipped in a nice body shot  here and there and threw eye-catching head punches, but Collard's offense was unceasing.

Two judges saw the fight 58-56 for Clay Collard while one judge saw it Kaminsky's way by the same score. The JBB scored the bout 58-56 for Collard.

The JBB mentioned that this was a potential trap fight for Kaminsky, who falls to 6-1 with 3 KOs. Collard, who is now 7-2-3 with two KOs, has everything in an opponent a young fighter should avoid. He is a winning MMA veteran who fought in the UFC; he is very awkward, very tough, and unrelenting; and he has beaten or drawn with a number of prospects, including southpaws.

This loss could be a turning point in David's career. The fear is that the loss could damage his confidence. In reality, it was just the wrong fight for him, and it presents an opportunity to learn. Making weight appeared to be an issue, understandable considering the limitations created by COVID-19. In the ring, David needed to move subtly to either side when Collard rushed in, instead of trying to time him or moving straight back. At that point, Collard would be out of position and Kaminsky could land with out worrying about Collard's head. Kaminsky also started his body attack too late in the fight. Collard is now 6-1 in his last seven fights; that lone loss was to Olympic medalist Bektemir Melikuziev, a southpaw who established center ring early and then finished Collard with a body attack in the fourth round. Kaminsky seemed to try to follow Melikuziev's path, but once it wasn't working in the first round, he needed to shift his strategy.

In defeat Kaminsky would do well to remember something an old Jewish trainer, Whitey Bimstein, once said, "Show me an undefeated fighter and I'll show a guy who's never fought anybody." Kaminsky now has fought someone.

Monday, June 15, 2020

Kaminsky to Face Collard on Thursday

David Kaminsky is scheduled to battle Clay Collard on Thursday, June 18 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada. There will be no fans in attendance as a measure to stop the spread of Coronavirus-19.  The bout will air on ESPN as part of the Jose Pedraza-Mikkell LesPierre undercard.

Collard is not your average 6-2-3 boxer from Utah. The 5'11" 27-year old is a veteran MMA fighter with a winning record in that sport who has participated in the UFC. Since becoming a professional boxer three years ago, Collard has been in tough. Counting Kaminsky (6-0 3 KOs), his last eleven opponents will have entered the ring against Clay sporting a combined 65-3 record, which reveals his 6-2-3 mark to be quite impressive.

Collard only won one of his first five boxing matches, but he has improved a ton since. His balance is better and he found his identity as an iron-faced volume puncher. He has won five out of his last six boxing fights. His most impressive win came last September when he hurt and knocked down Gerald Sherrell in the first round on his way to capturing a six-round unanimous decision victory over the Pittsburgh prospect. Sherrell had participated in the latest version on The Contender and KOed Quatavious Cash in the competition. Sherrell was coming off of a win over veteran Morgan Fitch.

Kaminsky is a southpaw, but Collard has faced several quality lefties. In his last fight back in February, Collard hurt hot prospect Raymond Guajardo, a southpaw, in the first round with a sneaky counter left hook, the same punch that floored Sherrell in the opening round of their bout. After Guajardo was counted down again when his gloves touched the canvas, he came back with a snapping left that put Collard down. Collard rose and in the second stanza kept landing to the head and body. With blood pouring out of Guajardo's nose, the fight was stopped and Collard had his second career stoppage victory.

The 19 year old Kaminsky hasn't fought anywhere near the level of competition as has Collard. This will be the eleventh fight for Clay since May 18, 2019 while Kaminsky has fought only twice in that span.

Collard is an awkward fighter. As is common among MMA fighters who switch to boxing, Collard's stance is a bit square and his right foot comes forward in front of the left when he shoots the right hand, an indication of poor balance. Collard will often stay as a southpaw when his right foot comes forward and is as effective from either stance, though he prefers fighting orthodox. Despite this flaw, his balance has improved since he started boxing for money. Collard throws a lot of arm punches just meant to keep on the pressure. He's adept at varying his punch speed and power.

Collard's defense consists of blocking punches with his cheeks. But Collard shrugs off head shots as if they're a summer's mist. 2016 Olympic medalist Bektemir Melikuziev,a southpaw, set the template for how to beat this improved version of Collard. The two-time World Championship medalist controlled center ring with his precise powerful pot-shots for the first three rounds. Then he went to the body and scored two knockdowns before the fight was stopped in the fourth. Collard was the heaviest of his career by far for the Melikuziev fight last November, which didn't help Clay.

Kaminsky didn't experience anywhere near the level of success as an amateur as Melikuziev did, but he has a similar style. This bout will be a true test for the Israel-native who lives in California. It is somewhat of a trap fight. With the unusual circumstances brought on by COVID-19 and Collard's unassuming record and awkward style, this bout seems like a bit of a high-risk low-reward endeavor for Kaminsky. But a win will show that he is a prospect with a very bright future.

The fight will take place at super middleweight, which is an advantage for Kaminsky. It's scheduled for six rounds, a distance in which Collard has fought three times. Kaminsky has never seen the fifth round as a pro as of yet.