Zhanat Zhakiyanov upsets Rau'shee Warren, while Robert Easter Jr retains IBF title
Last Updated: 11/02/17 9:12am
Kazakhstan's Zhanat Zhakiyanov survived two first-round knockdowns to upset Rau'shee Warren by split decision on Friday and claim the WBA bantamweight title.
On the same card in Ohio, unbeaten Robert Easter Jr retained his IBF lightweight title with a unanimous decision over Puerto Rico's Luis Cruz.
Warren, making his first defence of the title he claimed with a majority decision win over Juan Carlos Payano, looked as though he was heading for a short night when he put the challenger down twice in the first three minutes.
However, Zhakiyanov, who is trained by Ricky Hatton, steadied and gradually seized control of the bout.
He hurt Warren with a pair of right hands in the third round and the champion was on the canvas moments later, although referee Gary Rosato ruled he had been pushed rather than knocked down.
For the rest of the fight Zhakiyanov attacked relentlessly, his punishing body blows particularly effective against the American southpaw.
While one judge saw it 115-111 for Warren, Zhakiyanov got the nod from the other two by scores of 116-110 and 115-111.
Zhakiyanov, 33, was fighting for the first time since a split decision victory over Yonfrez Parejo in Monte Carlo in November 2015. He improved to a record of 27-1-KO18 while inflicting Warren's second defeat.
Easter knocked down Cruz three times in the 10th, 11th and 12th rounds en route to victory.
He won by scores of 119-106, 118-107 and 117-108 to improve to 19-0-KO14 in what was Cruz's fifth career defeat.