Unbeaten Easter downs Shafikov to defend lightweight crown

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Undefeated American Robert Easter retained his International Boxing Federation lightweight title Friday with a unanimous decision over Russian southpaw Denis Shafikov in his hometown of Toledo, Ohio.

Easter improved to 20-0 by judges’ scores of 120-108, 120-108 and 116-112, while Shafikov fell to 38-3 with one draw, his defeats all coming in IBF lightweight world title bouts, reports BSS.

“I rate myself a B-minus,” Easter said. “I could have done a lot more better. Shafikov is a tough opponent, but we got the job done.”

Easter made the second defense of the crown he won with a split-decision victory last September over Richard Commey of Ghana. He also took a unanimous decision over Puerto Rico’s Luis Cruz last February in defending for the first time.

Easter, 26, landed hard right uppercuts in the early rounds while the smaller Shafikov worked the body as the fighters stayed close to each other to trade numerous blows.

Shafikov, 32, pressed the attack in the fifth and sixth rounds, connecting with his left hand time and again to frustrate the champion while setting the tempo.

“I started off inside,” Easter said. “My team was telling me to box. Later on we got to the boxing.”

Easter connected on several combinations in the 10th round as both fights traded flurries to the 12th-round finish.

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