Ukrainian fights his way to European Kickboxing crown
The reigning two-time WBKF heavyweight champion of the world, Pavel Zhuravlyov, has to find a little more space on his waist, after he battled his way to the European Kickboxing crown in Moscow on Thursday night.
The event was also celebrating the 9th birthday of the most popular martial arts arena in Russia – Moscow's Arbat Fight Club.
And with the WBKF European championship title at stake, it was gearing up to be an anniversary not easily forgotten.
Four fighters would be given the opportunity to take ownership of the belt.
The club favorite – two time world champion Pavel Zhuravlyov – was the first one to step in the ring.
The 26 year-old Ukrainian, nicknamed the Kayman, took on the 2007 European champion, Elvin Abbasov from Russia, in the first semi-final.
It turned out to be the most spectacular fight of the night, mostly due to Zhuravlyov. His explosive style of punching and kicking found little resistance early on.
It was only Abbasov's renowned fighting spirit and strong will which kept the Saratov native in the contest.
It was Abbasov's bravery that allowed the crowd to witness all three rounds.
“The first seconds of every fight are very important – You have to get off to a good start, and prove your dominance in the ring – I did, and that's what gave me the edge…However, Elvin deserves a lot of respect, he's very strong mentally, and never gives up the fight," Pavel Zhuravlyov said.
Meanwhile, the other semi-final was a much tougher affair.
After three cagey rounds of a very close fight, it was WAKO World champion Evgeny Angalevich, who finally booked his place in the final on a split decision.
However, his ten-years older rival, Aleksey Gonchar, perhaps could have gotten the nod quite easily himself.
In the decider, the Kayman went against the man nicknamed 'the Angel.'
Despite lacking an overwhelming divine power, Angalevich turned out to be a hard nut to crack for the reigning world champ.
Zhuravlyov's hits connected just that bit more crisply enough to take the win, but he confessed afterward that his Belarusian adversary was certainly not someone to take lightly.
“I didn't expect my opponent to be so tough, and put me under pressure like that… I felt like I wasn't focused enough at the beginning… Fortunately, I managed to collect myself. And I learned a lot from this fight for the future,” Zhuravlyov said.