Russian world champ Lebedev outpoints brave Queenslander Flanagan
QUEENSLAND'S Mark Flanagan gave a wholehearted effort to last 12 rounds with the fearsome Denis Lebedev yesterday but the Russian retained his world cruiserweight title with a unanimous decision.
Flanagan was hoping to join Jeff Horn as Queensland's second world champion within a week, following the Fighting Schoolteacher's victory over Manny Pacquiao at Suncorp Stadium for the world welterweight title.
He made it a fast-paced competitive fight but the Russian left-hander was more precise with his punches.
Lebedev had the big Townsville-born Brisbane fighter briefly on the deck in Round 9 after slamming home a huge southpaw straight left to the body.
The fight took place in Ekaterinburg, Russia, 1700km east of Moscow.
Lebedev is the local hero and the crowd cheered his every punch against a determined challenger.
"Flanagan was really hungry,'' Lebedev said.
"My game plan was to keep him off balance and the plan worked from start to finish.''
Lebedev, 37, scored win No. 30 from 32 starts but he was made to work hard all the way in retaining his World Boxing Association belt.
Flanagan, 10 years younger than the champion, went in to the fight ranked the No. 6 contender. He lost for the fifth time against 22 wins.
"I didn't throw enough punches,'' he said.
"My corner was telling me to let my hands go and I should have thrown a lot more because I was hitting him when I did.''
Flanagan had some success throughout the fight.
He landed a solid straight right to the face in Round 2 but Lebedev came back with his own power shots in Round 3 and he was always a little sharper, even though Flanagan surged in the closing stages.
Flanagan always looked ominous, although he rarely let go with the savage body shots that are his trademark and which have been responsible for most of his 15 KOs.
Judges Jan Christensen of Denmark and Victor Simons of Panama scored 119-108 for Lebedev while Reina Urbaez of Venezuela had him winning every round - 120-107.
Both men weighed in on Saturday a little above 90kg.