Robert Easter Jr. vs Denis Shafikov Preview June 30th
Uneaten IBF Lightweight Champion Robert Easter Jr. of Toledo, Ohio will be defending his title against Denis Shafikov of Russia at the Huntington Center in the champion’s hometown this Friday, June 30th. The 12-round bout can be seen live in the U.S. on Bounce TV. Easter last fought in February when he beat Luis Cruz by a 12-round unanimous decision. Shafikov last fought in December and beat Richard Commey by a 12-round split decision. Easter won the vacant IBF crown in a close and exciting split decision over Commey last September and this is his second defence. It’s also a mandatory defence.
Easter Jr. vs Shafikov Betting Odds
Here are the winner odds from online sportsbook 5dimes.eu
- Denis Shafikov +245
- Robert Easter -335
The 26-year-old Easter was an alternate of the 2012 American Olympic Team and will enter the ring with a perfect record of 19-0 along with 14 Kos. He’s a tall lightweight at 5-feet-11-inches tall with a reach of 76 inches. He’s boxed 82 rounds since turning pro back in 2012. Easter has very good power in his fists with a current knockout ratio of 74 per cent. He likes to stay active as this will be his eighth contest since 2015. Easter has good hand speed and doesn’t mind going toe-to-toe when needed.
He’s also beaten the likes of Argenis Mendez, Juan Roman Solis, Miguel Mendoza, Daniel Attah, Roberto Acevedo, Hardy Paredes and Carlos Cardenas. He’s a good combination puncher and a fast starter as all 14 of his Kos have come before the sixth round. He’s also stopped five of his last seven opponents. If Easter has a weakness it’s his defence since he’s not the hardest guy to hit. He’ll need to make sure he doesn’t leave himself open for one of the challenger’s powerful counter shots.
The 32-year-old Shafikov has already fought for a world title twice. He lost a vacant IBF title shot to Rances Barthelemy by unanimous decision in December of 2015 and to Miguel Vasquez in February of 2014 when he lost a 12-round unanimous decision in another clash for the IBF lightweight title. He enters the fight with a fine mark of 38-2-1 along with 20 Kos. His draw came against Brunet Zamora in 2010 via a majority decision. Three of his last five wins have been by stoppage and his current knockout ratio is 49 per cent.
Shafikov is just 5-foot-5, but with a 68.5-inch reach, so he’s six inches shorter than Easter and the champion also has about as seven-inch reach advantage on him. Shafikov, who is trained by Abel Sanchez, turned pro back in 2003 and has 266 rounds under his belt since then. He needs to get on the inside and put pressure on his opponents due to his short size. However, that’s going to be a lot easier said than done and Easter should be looking to catch when he’s moving forward.
Shafikov’s best wins were a ninth-round stoppage over Rustam Nugaev in August of 2014, an eight-round unanimous decision against Miguel Angel Mendoza four months later and a third-round stoppage over Roy Mukhlis in July, 2015. His win over Commey was also impressive as well as his 10th-round stoppage of Jamel Herring last summer. Easter will try to make it difficult for Shafikov to get close to him. However, if he can get in range by evading the jab, he could punish the champ to the body and wear him down.
Shafikov is definitely a rugged customer with good experience, but he’s not really a one-punch knockout threat. This could lean towards Easter because of the size and reach advantage as well as his power and boxing skills. This should be a competitive bout and a pretty close one with both boxers having a legitimate shot at winning, but I’ll go with Easter to retain his belt.
Easter is a bit too big and skilled for Shafikov.
Play: Easter Jr. -335 @ 5dimes.eu
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