Lucasz Rozanski claimed the vacant WBC bridgerweight title with a devastating first-round stoppage of Alen Babic in Poland.
Babic and Rozanski promised a collision of unbridled ferocity when they met at the G2A Arena in Rzeszow, the latter’s hometown.
They did just that, though the fight ended even more quickly than expected.
Both men flew out from their corners at the first bell, looking to unload their heaviest punches and it was Rozanski who landed first.
They met head on in the centre of the ring, but Rozanski stung ‘The Savage’ with a right cross.
He barrelled into the Croatian, moving forward even as Babic fired furious punches into his body.
Rozanski, though, was throwing and landing hurtful punches, imposing his physicality from the start. He doubled his left hook, snagging Babic’s chin and shaking him.
Up close again Rozanski’s left hook swept in to Babic’s chin and nearly knocked the Croatian off his feet. The Savage was struggling to get his legs back under him, looking to hold for a moment before trying to throw punches back.
It left him open for a further onslaught and Rozanski knocked him down to the canvas.
Babic rose, determined still. But he could not stem the frenzied salvoes Rozanski slung through.
A right hit him flush and the Pole was pummelling him on the ropes. Babic tried to raise his gloves, tried to block the shots but those punches were flying through and the referee intervened after two minutes and 10 seconds of mayhem.
The G2A Arena erupted as the hometown hero won the vacant WBC bridgerweight title.
Bridgerweight is a weight class created at 224lbs, to fill a gap between cruiserweight and today’s gargantuan heavyweights. The WBC created the division and is the only sanctioning body to recognise it.
It named the division after American schoolboy Bridger Walker, who saved his younger sister from a dog attack in Wyoming in 2020 and subsequently suffered bite wounds himself.
It is a novel championship but it creates opportunities for the winner. The big-name cruiserweights, maybe Richard Riakporhe, perhaps even the Lawrence Okolie vs Chris Billam-Smith winner, could consider moving up to fight for it.
It also opens up possible options for future fights at heavyweight as well as further title defences for Rozanski now.
For Babic, he must rebuild. He delivered the action he promised, but not the result he longed for. He was beaten at his own game, a cruel one sometimes even if it is undeniably exciting to watch.
‘Like a bar brawl’
Spencer Oliver, speaking to Sky Sports:
“There was no boxing technique or finesse, it was going to be a bar brawl and that’s exactly what we got. I am gutted for Babic but the right man won.
“Rozanski landed early and never let Babic off the hook. Babic tried to rally but Rozanski got a brilliant finish. It was unbelievable while it lasted.
“Babic came out and tried to box but Rozanski was flying, went wild straightaway. Babic usually comes out like that but tonight he met his match.
“He came unstuck against a guy who wanted it so bad. He was not going lose in front of his home crowd. Rozanski landed first and that was the difference.”
Jonny Nelson, speaking to Sky Sports:
“Babic was stuck betwixt and between – does he fight, does he box?
“I think Babic expected to walk through Rozanski and beat the fight out of him but once he got clipped, you could see he was befuddled, discombobulated.
“It was a shock to Babic, feeling the power he usually puts on everyone else. It was a rough way to learn a harsh lesson. He met another little Tasmanian devil and he wasn’t prepared for that.
“If ever there was a time for Babic to be Babic, it was tonight. The worst thing he could do was try to box this guy, especially if it was new to him. How does he move forward from here?”
Dan Azeez, speaking to Sky Sports:
“If that was going to happen, I thought Babic would do it. That was a statement from Rozanski. Brutal!
“It’s about how Babic comes back. Will he stay with his trainer? Will he try to box more or will he go back to being The Savage?”