British cruiserweight Ola Afolabi has stopped Rakhim Chakhkiev in the fifth round of their IBO title bout in Kazan. Afolabi had been the underdog against the hard-hitting Russian, who had been beaten just once in 25 outings, but after absorbing punishment inside the opening three rounds, he brought the contest to a stunning conclusion.
Chakhkiev had come out firing at the start of the fight and several sustained assaults suggested that he had every intention of ending the fight inside the distance.
Afolabi, who failed to claim the interim IBF belt in April, had done well to withstand what was thrown at him, but in the third, he suffered a cut above his eye after an accidental clash of heads, something, which was a common occurrence during the opening stages.
However, Chakhkiev slowed down considerably in the fourth, and in the next round, Afolabi landed two right hands that sent his opponent to the canvas, only for the referee to rule against the knockdown.
The decision was harsh on Afolabi, but as Chakhkiev began to come forward, the British fighter landed a combination that sent the Russian crashing face first to the floor.
The referee started a count, but after five, the bout was correctly waived off as Afolabi catapulted himself into contention for a fourth opportunity to fight for a world title.