Latvian lion Ricards Bolotniks scored two standing eight counts in the ninth round en route to a surprisingly clear points win over tournament favourite Hosea Burton in the first MTK Golden Contract 175lbs semi-final at Studio 69 in Riga on Saturday night.
Scores were 100-90 and 98-90 (twice), which flattered the hometown favourite somewhat, but his ceaseless pressure was always likely to catch the eye of the three Baltic judges.
After a solid start behind the jab, the more cultured Burton (25-2, 11 KOs) simply didn’t do enough as Bolotniks assumed centre ring and walked him down with waves of aggression. Bolotniks (17-5-1, 7 KOs) wasn’t remotely troubled by Burton’s return fire and gradually started to punish the Mancunian with stifling body blows.
Burton’s legs slowed and he seemed to lack conviction in his work whereas Bolotniks was a grinning, relentless, ever-present menace. Every Bolotniks shot, scoring or missing, was cheered by the Latvian fans in attendance, but a reversing Burton tired demonstrably as the contest passed the midway point.
The visitor’s nose was bloodied in the eighth but worse was to follow in the ninth as Burton twice wilted on the ropes under duress where the referee administered two standing counts, deeming the ropes kept him upright. Bolotniks detonated a volley of right hands as Burton held on grimly to survive a torrid session.
Burton regrouped in the final round, but the damage was already done though the wide nature of the cards was something of a surprise.
The surging Bolotniks will now meet the winner of Wednesday’s semi between Liam Conroy and Serge Michel in the Golden Contract 175lbs final. Few would bet against him on this form.
Main image: Bolotniks prevails on the cards. Photo: MTK Global.