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Spend Abazi


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Probably the best Albanian-born boxer so far, Spend Abazi fought out of Denmark as a pro and won the European bantamweight title, making two defenses of it, and also fought unsuccessfully for the IBF title, losing to Robert Guerrero by corner retirement. Standing 165 cm or 5'5, Abazi was short but powerfully built and had a high punch output, even though not a very hard hitter but he could stop you down the stretch if he landed enough. He was also obviously tough, since his only stoppage loss came due to a cut against a guy who could hit at 126. What's also an interesting coincidence is that both his pro losses came on the same date: 23 February.

 

Spend Abazi (pronounced "Shpend Ah-baazi") was born in Kucove, south-central Albania, on 7 May 1978. He moved to Copenhagen at some point where he started training boxing. As amateur, he won the 1997, 1998 and 1999 Danish championships. He turned pro in March 1999. At first he fought mainly as a featherweight and won his first 15 fights, but in the 16th he was upset for the first time against a Kenyan called Athanas Nzau, losing to him by SD 6. In September 2001, he fought for the European bantam title against Alexander Yagupov of Russia and won by TKO 5 in Vejle, Denmark. In 2002, he made 2 defenses of it, first by stopping Jose Antonio Fuente by TKO 2 and then beating the far better known Dmitry Kirillov by UD12 in Viborg, Denmark, thus giving the 20-0 Kirillov his first loss. Kirillov would later go on to win the IBF super flyweight title. He then vacated the title to move back to featherweight. In September 2002, he won the IBC title by stopping Giovanni Andrade by TKO 7 and before that, in May, he beat Nikolay Eremeev by UD to win the European Boxing Association title. In November same year, he avenged the loss to Nzau and beat him by UD 8. Next year in April, he beat the 13-0 Algerian-French Samir Laala by TKO 8 in his first defenses of his titles and Laala would retire after that. His best win came on 11 June 2004, when he defended his European title for the fourth time against former IBF super bantam champion Lehlo Ledwaba and beat him by a rather wide unanimous decision. He would make his fifth and final European title defense against Evgeny Strausov in November that year and he won by UD.

 

After winning 20 straight fights, he was finally given a chance to win the IBF title which became vacant in November 2006, after its previous holder Robert Guerrero had lost it to Orlando Salido, who then tested positive for a banned substance. Abazi therefore faced Guerrero for this title on 23 February 2007, in Frederiksberg, Denmark. 5\8 Guerrero was taller and a slick and clever fighter who also hit hard at 126. Abazi began the fight aggressively as usual, but Guerrero countered him well and was also able to tie him up whenever he came close. After a close first round, Guerrero began to assert himself and land hard clean punches. Abazi was down in the third from a counter left but came back in the fourth to land some good punches, before again getting dropped in the fifth by a counter left. At some point in that same round, he developed a cut over his right eye and it started to bleed, which eventually brought an end to the fight after round 8. He was behind on all scorecards and had to face the truth-the IBF belt went to Guerrero. He retired after that fight, with a record of 35 wins, 10 inside the distance, and only 2 losses, 1 inside the distance.

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