Erik Skoglund (23-0, 11 KOs) retained his IBF Intercontinental Light Heavyweight title tonight in Nyköping, Sweden with a comprehensive points victory over Oleksandr Cherviak (15-5-1, 5 KOs).
The show signalled the return of big-time boxing to Sweden, with Skoglund’s fight being the first over championship distance since Jimmy Ellis defended the World heavyweight title with a controversial fifteen round decision over Floyd Patterson in September 1968.
In front of a sell out crowd of 5,232 people, the 24 year-old Swede delivered, continuing his world title charge with a dominant display against the tough Ukrainian.
Cherviak attempted to upset the hometown fighter in the early rounds, but Skoglund soon found his rhythm, and took control of the bout. In round five, Skoglund looked close to stopping the 34 year-old, pushing him back on to the ropes and landing heavy shots to the head and body.
The final round started at a frantic pace, as Skoglund, roared on by his loyal supporters, looked to bring the contest to a premature end, but Cherviak dug deep and was able to take the fight to the judges’ scorecards. After twelve entertaining rounds, Skoglund was ahead 120-108, 120-108 and 119-109.
‘’It was a fantastic feeling to be able to fight and defend my title on Swedish soil,’’ said Skoglund. ‘’It really was a historic night, and I want to thank everyone who came out and supported me. I love each and every one of them.
‘’It was indescribable to walk into the arena to such an amazing reception. It’s the best audience I ever had, and probably the best I will ever have. I’m proud to fight in front of these people, and to represent Sweden and Nyköping on such a big stage. This was a gigantic step forward for me and for Swedish boxing.
‘’Cherviak was tough, as I expected him to be, but I stuck to my game plan and I got the job done. He is a good boxer, but I was clearly the better boxer with the better tactics.’’
Cherviak, who more than played his part in evening’s action, was humble in defeat, admitting he had a loss to a superior opponent.
‘’Erik is a very talent boxer,’’ said Cherviak. ‘’And he has a lot of experience for someone of his age. He made it difficult for me, and executed his game plan well. He was the better man on the night. Obviously, I’m disappointed, but I’m thankful for the opportunity, and I wish Erik every success in the future.’’
Promoter Nisse Sauerland admits he was blown away by the support shown for Skoglund from the Swedish fans, and believes the young fighter has a bright future ahead of him.
‘’What a spectacular show,’’ said Sauerland. ‘’The fights, the fans, the atmosphere – nothing could have gone better. This was a great advert for boxing, and the perfect night to announce the return of boxing to Sweden. Erik was sensational, he shows a maturity far beyond his years. No doubt about it, we are looking at a future super star.’’
In an undercard stacked with talent, the Swede’s shone brightest. Anthony ‘Can You Dig It?’ Yigit proved why he is one of the most exciting fighters in Europe with an action packed eight-round unanimous points victory over former EBU-EU title challenger Chaquib Fadli.
‘’It was an entertaining fight,’’ said the Stockholm fighter. ‘’Fadli is a tough guy. He belongs with the best in Europe, but so do I. It was wonderful to box in Sweden, nothing beats boxing at home. The audience here were simply fantastic.”
Further down the card, heavyweight hope Otto Wallin scored an impressive points victory over former Russian Champion Vladimir Goncharov, Sven Fornling overcame his Norwegian opponent Simen Smaadal, who absorbed a lot of punishment, with a one sided points victory, amateur star Hampus Henrikkson starting his pro career in style with a first-round KO win over Ivan Sakic, Simon Henriksson claimed his fourth victory against Jakub Horvath (UD4), and Johanna Rydberg outworked her Russian opponent Evgeniya Zablotskaya to remain undefeated (UD4).