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Sunday, December 24, 2023

Sagiv Ismailov Continues to Improve

Sagiv Ismailov won by decision against Evghenii Shabazov at Chisinau State University of Physical Education and Sports in Chisinau, Moldova last night. Ismailov's intelligent jabs and slippery defense controlled the super middleweight+ contest in his first career six-rounder.

Ismailov, a 21 year old Israeli, has developed impressively this year. Against Shabazov, his jab was particularly effective. He used it as a rangefinder, but also had a sneaky jab that he landed often off upper body movement. He shifted in the pocket and fired it when Shabazov least expected. Sagiv also utilized a stab jab to the midsection and even threw double jabs.

Meanwhile, Ismailov put to rest any questions about his stamina. He moved his upper body constantly and showed fleet feet throughout the fight. He slipped punches beautifully; Shabazov had a frustrating time finding the target. At one point in the third round, Ismailov resembled Yuri Foreman, using movement to set up his well-timed attacks from the outside. Sagiv Ismailov transforming into Yuri Foreman was unexpected to say the least.

Though Ismailov lost the first round, there were many good signs. He unveiled a double jab-straight right combination; it missed its mark, but it was a shrewd tactic. He seemed a bit tight early and was tagged with a one-two and several crisp Shabazov jabs. But Sagiv boxed smartly and patiently.

Between each round, the younger man sat down and received a muscle-waking massage to each of his limbs from trainer Evgheni Boico while Shabazov, a 43 year old from Chisinau who has worn a brace on his left elbow in each of his fights, stood up every time. The Moldovan got a towel waved in his face, but no water. The corner work was partly responsible for Ismailov's ascendance and the disappearance of Shabazov's offense down the stretch.

As the fight went on, Sagiv unleashed two-punch combinations to the body while punctuating with head shots. Shabazov was very tough and never in real danger, but he threw less and less as the fight progressed because Ismailov was too elusive.

Sagiv opened up his attack more in the sixth and final round. He sat down more on his punches, and his right found a home on Shabazov's body. He landed a big left hook. Shabazov finally woke up with ten seconds to go and went for broke, but Ismailov couldn't be touched.

Sagiv won by decision (60-54, 60-54, 59-55) to improve his record to 7-0 with 2 KOs. The Jewish Boxing Blog scored the fight 59-55 for Ismailov, giving Shabazov only the first. He is now 1-4. After the fight, Sagiv put on his kippah and enjoyed some well-deserved catered kosher food, a welcome change from last fight when he had to bring his own food with him.

Ismailov has improved tremendously this year. His fight in February against a tall southpaw was a tad ugly. He looked much better in April against an opponent with limited pro experience. He shook off the rust last month, showing he can win a fight with just the jab. Last night, his defense was terrific and his offense was very creative. His next step is to counter after slipping punches. Against the Moldovan, Ismailov made him miss, but he didn't really make him pay.

Next year should be another development year. Hopefully, he is active and continues to face opponents with different styles and slightly more pro experience than Shabazov.

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