Alexander Povetkin's hopes of securing a world title fight with WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder have been boosted by a stoppage victory over Mariusz Wach at the TatNeft Arena in Kazan.
The Russian, defending his WBC silver heavyweight title, commanded the centre of the ring from the first bell and landed with firm combinations in the second and third rounds, which had Wach back-pedalling onto the ropes.
Povetkin (30-1 KO22) continued to dictate proceedings, but his dominance was momentarily halted towards the end of the fourth round, suffering a cut above his left eye following a fierce overhand right from Wach (31-2 KO17).
The fighters came into the bout in Russia with only one career defeat to their name – both against current IBF, WBO, IBO, and WBA champion Wladimir Klitschko – but Povetkin's superior power and footwork began to tell as the rounds wore on, with Wach suffering a cut below his left eye in the tenth.
Povetkin remained firmly in the ascendancy as the fight entered the final round and as a tired Wach failed with a late attempt to claim an unlikely knockout victory, the cut above his eye worsened causing the referee to step in to end the contest.
Denis Lebedev retained his WBA cruiserweight title with an eighth-round stoppage of Lateef Kayode.
The Nigerian challenger posed some fairly unique questions to the 36-year-old champion with his showboating, but Lededev stayed disciplined and moved to 28-2-KO21 with what proved an emphatic victory in the end.
Kayode (21-1 KO16) insisted he had slipped to the canvas in the seventh, but the fact he had been hurt was clear in the next session when Lebedev began landing big left hands at will – prompting the referee's intervention with Kayode swaying on the ropes.
Cesar Rene Cuenca saw his dream of joining Floyd Mayweather Jr and Rocky Marciano on 49-0 ruined as he suffered a bizarre sixth-round stoppage defeat to Eduard Troyanovsky.
The Argentinian was fighting away from home for only the second time in his career and found the going tough with the home fighter (23-0-KO20) using his superior reach to good effect before landing a heavy left hand in the sixth.
Troyanovsky had just landed another sharp uppercut when the two tangled and Cuenca was pushed to the floor. He rose amid protests from his corner and appeared reluctant to continue, resulting in the Russian becoming IBF super-lightweight champion.
London-born cruiserweight Ola Afolabi (22-4-4) shrugged off a nasty cut above his left eye to record another shock – knocking out Rakhim Chakhkiev (24-2-KO18) in the fifth with a shuddering right-left combination.
Chakhkiev piled on the pressure in the early stages and both fighters came away bloodied from several head clashes, but Afolabi produced a well-timed right to send Chakhkiev stumbling forward in the fifth session – finishing the job with a left.
Light-heavyweight prospect Dmitry Bivol continued to impress as he battered Jackson Junior to a halt in the fourth round courtesy of a substantial overhand right.
The 24-year-old has stopped all five of his professional opponents to date.
Cruiserweight knockout artist Dmitry Kudryashov was the victim of the upset of the night as he suffered a second-round stoppage defeat to unfancied Nigerian Olanrewaju Durodola (22-2 KO20).
The home fighter went about his business with the usual purpose in the first session as he nearly knocked Durodola down with a big left, but he was left stunned by two rights in the second and the referee was left with little choice but to stop the fight as Kudryashov continued to take shots on the ropes.