By Scott Gifoid: WBA cruiserweight champion in recess Denis Lebedev (32-2, 23 KOs) looked impressive in defeating Mike Wilson (19-1, 8 KOs) by a lopsided 12 round unanimous decision in a non-title fight on Saturday night at the Casino de Monte Carlo Salle Medecin, Monte Carlo. The judges scored it as follows: 117-111, 119-109, and 119-109. Boxing News 24 gave the 39-year-old Lebedev all 12 rounds in winning the fight by a 120-108 score.
There were no rounds where the little known 35-year-old Wilson appeared to win. He was over-matched by the much more skilled and experienced Lebedev. Going into the fight, some boxing fans were giving Wilson a chance of beating Lebedev based on his unbeaten record and his slight youth advantage.
If you want to give Wilson credit for anything in the fight, you must credit him for his ability to stand in there for 12 rounds and take punishment from Lebedev. However, it looked like Lebedev was showing mercy to Wilson from the earliest rounds. Lebedev looked like he didn’t want to hurt the guy, so he stayed in 1st gear the entire 12 round fight without pushing for a knockout. The way that Lebedev fought, he could have shifted into 2nd and 3rd gear at a drop of a dime to score a knockout if he had wanted to, but that wasn’t what he wanted to do. It was such a mismatch that Lebedev didn’t need to. He was able to land his jabs and left hands at will without getting hit back.
Wilson suffered a bloody nose mid point in the fight. Lebedev targeted the nose with his shots, and was able to hit him whenever he wanted. It looked like Lebedev wanted to do the minimal to get the win without taking any punishment in the fight. Wilson was fighting all out trying to win, but he didn’t have the talent to get the job done no matter how hard he tried
“I think I performed well, and overall I’m glad with my performance,” said Lebedev to Sky Sports after the fight. “There are a lot of fighters in my weight division who want to fight Usyk, and I’m one of them.”
There’s no reason for unified cruiserweight champion Oleksander Usyk to stay around the division to fight Lebedev. The money fight that Usyk wants is at heavyweight against Anthony Joshua, not at cruiserweight against a 40-ish Lebedev. There’s no money for Usyk fighting Lebedev. It would have been nice if Lebedev entered the World Boxing Super Series cruiserweight tournament recently to compete with the likes of Yunier Dorticos and Mairis Briedis, but he didn’t take part in the tournament for some reason. Fighting in the tournament would have increased Lebedev’s star power and helped increase his chances of getting a fight against Usyk. It still unlikely that Usyk would have bothered fighting Lebedev, given that he was beaten by a fighter he defeated with ease in the final of the World Boxing Super Series I cruiserweight tournament in Murat Gassiev. Lebedev could have created some waves if he had taken part in either of the WBSS tournaments to test himself against the best.
After the fight, Matchroom Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn mentioned wanting to match #13 WBA Lawrence Okolie (10-0, 7 KOs) against the 39-year-old Lebedev. It’s unclear how serious Hearn is about wanting to make the Lebedev vs. Okolie fight. But with the way that the very raw looking Okolie looked against Matty Askin in his last fight in September, it would be a bad idea for Hearn to let the lanky stork-like 6’5″ Okolie anywhere near a fighter with the power, boxing skills and experience of Lebedev. That’s a fight where Hearn would be taking a major gamble in throwing Okolie into the deep end of the pool in a sink or swim move. Even if Okolie somehow were to beat Lebedev, how long would he be able to hold onto a title. There are a lot of contenders that would see the badly flawed Okolie as food, and it would force Hearn to try and bypass those contenders one by one in the way he did when Tony Bellew briefly held the WBC cruiserweight title. Bellew was supposed to defend the WBC title against his #1 challenger Mairis Briedis after he won the belt in 2016, but Hearn worked his magic to have Bellew swerve the Briedis fight and instead take #14 WBC BJ Flores in a nice safe fight to keep him from losing his WBC title in his first defense. Okolie were to get lucky enough to beat Lebedev, he would have a big target on his chest, and the top contenders in the WBA’s rankings would be going after him to end his title reign right away. Hearn matching Okolie against Lebedev would have to be construed as him cutting his losses by throwing him in with a guy that he would have almost no chance of beating.