Once again, WBA ‘Super’ and IBF champion Murodjon Akhmadaliev looked like the menace of the super-bantamweight division, but his fifth-round win over former IBF king Ryosuke Iwasa was marred by an early stoppage from trigger-happy referee Yury Koptsev at the Humo Arena in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, on Saturday.

Akhmadaliev (9-0, 7 KOs) largely bossed proceedings from the opening bell, threatening to overwhelm the loose and rangy Japanese with his sheer volume and a persistent, punishing jab.

But fellow southpaw Iwasa (27-4, 17 KOs) gamely hung in there and had his successes, catching the champ with a flush left hand in the fourth. The Uzbek began the fifth like a freight train, forcing Iwasa into reverse with a feverish volley of punches. Iwasa dug in and reversed to the ropes, not throwing back enough but seemingly in full control of his faculties, when referee Koptsev jumped in too soon.

The impressive champion seemed on his way to victory but the ending was early, unsatisfactory and would not have happened had the roles been reversed.

On the undercard, fast-rising super-lightweight Shakhram Giyasov (11-0, 9 KOs) shrugged aside Mexican Patricio Lopez Moreno (28-5, 20 KOs) in three rounds. Southpaw Moreno looked decent early on, but capitulated under escalating pressure. After being cut on the forehead in the first, the outgunned visitor was dropped by the ropes from a barrage at the end of the second. In the third, Giyasov closed the show with a right hand upstairs and a thudding left to the body. Former World Amateur champion Giyasov is currently rated No.6 by the WBA.

Israil Madrimov, the WBA’s No.1 contender at 154lbs, saw off the previously unbeaten Emmany Kalombo (14-1, 14 KOs), prevailing 100-89, 99-90 and 98-92 on the cards. Uzbek Madrimov (7-0, 5 KOs) was defensively lax at times, but scored an official knockdown in the eighth round after a left hook sent the Congolese fighter into the ropes and referee Sergey Litumov issued a count. 

Main image: Ed Mulholland/Matchroom Boxing.