LIVERPOOL’S Liam Smith left Russia frustrated at the unanimous decision that went to Magomed Kurbanov after the two fought in Ekaterinburg on Friday (May 7).
The judges scored 117-112 and 115-113 twice to Kurbanov, who was in his actual hometown.
“Will watch it back but feel I definitely did not lose that fight,” Smith stated afterwards.
Smith had applied consistent pressure through their 12 rounder. Though Kurbanov had successes at times and was competitive throughout, the Liverpudlian appeared to have done enough to deserve a result. Certainly the refereeing should have been stronger. The Russian tied up Smith in clinches over and over again, from the first to the last round, denying the Briton the opportunity to work on the inside and not receiving any penalty for the infractions. In the first round Kurbanov even hit the deck. Smith did land a left hook and Kurbanov lost his footing, but the referee ruled it a slip.
The Russian boxed like the hometown fighter, backing off, flipping up jabs from his waist, which did land with surprising frequency, and manoeuvring away once he had managed to land a right.
Smith rarely attacked the body too, which has been one the hallmarks of his past successes. But he rolled well under Kurbanov’s shots and opened up with combinations, dashing his cross into the Russian’s jaw. A final right staggered Kurbanov just before the final bell.
Smith, a former WBO 154lbs champion, had hoped to use this fight in Russia as a route back to another world title shot. That path to a championship fight, for the time being, has been blocked.