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Saturday, March 19, 2022

Igor Lazarev Shines in Controversial Loss

Igor Lazarev, who was a smidge above the lightweight limit, lost a highly controversial decision against hometown lightweight prospect Dominik Harwankowski tonight at Hala Widowiskowo-Sportowa in Świecie, Poland. Lazarev, who completely controlled the action from the third round onwards, deserved to win.

Harwankowski, a 21 year old from a town an hour's drive from the venue, should not have been declared the winner even if the fight was held in his living room and the judges were his family members or his childhood pet. He took the first round with his snapping jabs and cupping rights.

The second round was the turning point in the fight. Harwankowski landed his quality jab here and there, but Lazarev's defense was slippery. He used tricky upperbody movement to get inside and maul the younger Pole throughout the rest of the bout. He found success with this strategy midway through the second stanza. Lazarev's body assault also began to take shape in the round.

There isn't an ethical way to score any of the next three rounds for Harwankowski. The 35 year old Lazarev boxed the best rounds of his career. He frustrated Harwankowski's smooth boxing from the outside and maneuvered his way in close. Once inside, Lazarev varied his shots beautifully. He smashed the prospect's face with a right uppercut. He landed left hooks to the head and body. A right over the top crashed down on Harwankowski. And Igor's best punch, the right to the body, found a home on the Pole's left side.

Perhaps a judge could've given Hawankowski the fourth round if only left hooks were counted. It was a nice punch for him in the round. Of course, that's not the way boxing is scored. Lazarev dominated with the same shots that helped him carry the third. He also added a little counter right that told Hawankowski, "I can hit you any time I want." While Igor's offense was punishing, his defense remained excellently awkward.

In the fifth round, Lazarev landed a left uppercut and a straight right combination that knocked out Harwankowski's mouthpiece and bloodied his nose. The young fellow spent the rest of the round running. He switched to southpaw a couple of times just to slow the coming onslaught. Lazarev probably should have pressed his attack further, but he didn't want to walk into anything and instead picked his battles. A wide smile exposed the fun he was having teaching the young home fighter a lesson.

The final round was more of the same. Igor was clearly loving it. Harwankowski possessed speed and skill but was too predictable and couldn't fight on the inside. When the final bell rang, Lazarev wore a huge grin. His team had devised a masterful gameplan. His performance was so good, they couldn't take it away from him. Could they?

As referee Krzysztof Bubak, who was very good, held both men's hands, Igor continued to smile. Dominik looked dejected, his face marked up. As the seconds ticked away, Igor became increasingly worried. His smile slowly diminished. Then, the ring announcer revealed the decision. Judges Tomasz Chwoszcz and Arek Malek scored the bout 58-56 or four rounds to two for Hawankowski. Those are horrible scorecards. Eugeniusz Tuszynski, however, outdid them both. His 59-55 card for Hawankowski was shamefully egregious.

The Jewish Boxing Blog scored the fight 59-55 for Lazarev. If the plan was to give the hometown fighter a terrible decision, they could have called it a draw. A unanimous decision victory for the local kid is inexcusable. It begs the question to supervisor and inspector Paulina Pietras, Polski Unia Boks president Jarosław Kołkowski, and the three judges Tomasz Chwoszcz, Arek Malek, and Eugeniusz Tuszynski: Was this terrible decision a matter of incompetence or corruption (niekompetencja lub korupcja)?

Because of the worst decision by far The JBB has witnessed in over twelve years of coverage, Lazarev is now 8-3 with 3 KOs. Hawankowski is laughably 8-0 with two KOs. Lazarev is scheduled to face highly touted prospect Angelo Peña in April. Hopefully, the judging is fairer in Switzerland.

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