Denis Lebedev announces retirement
Lebedev ends his 18-year career at 32-2 (23 KO)
After negotiations for his mandated title defense against Arsen Goulamirian fell through, longtime cruiserweight champion Denis Lebedev took to social media to announce his retirement from the sport after 18 years as a professional.
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Пришло время расставаться с большим спортом. Как настоящий мужчина, муж и отец я обязан сконцентрироваться на своей большой семье и постараться как можно больше уделить внимание своим самым родным людям. Но жизнь не стоит на месте и вместе с вами мы будем делать большие и малые добрые дела для своей страны, для нашей молодёжи. Ведь это тоже моя семья И у нас все получиться! С большой любовью к вам Денис Лебедев!
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Lebedev made his first bid for a world title in his 22nd bout, challenging the venerable Marco Huck for the WBO belt in 2010 and coming away with a controversial split decision loss. Two fights later, he took a decision over James Toney to claim the interim WBA title, which was ultimately upgraded two fights later for his vicious uppercut finish of Santander Silgado.
Then came his infamous battle with Guillermo Jones, which saw Lebedev suffer some of the most grotesque eye damage you’ll ever see over 10 grueling rounds. Jones, among the most legendary wastes of talent in recent memory, wound up testing positive for the diuretic furosemide, resulting in a no contest, and the rematch fell through when he failed for the same substance again.
Lebedev picked up four more victories, winning a brutal brawl with Youri Kalembri Kalenga and claiming the IBF belt by knocking out Victor Emilio Rodriguez, before losing a razor-thin decision to Murat Gassiev. Because boxing is dumb, only the IBF belt changed hands, though Lebedev soon became WBA “champion in recess” due to inactivity.
A pair of tune-up wins over Hizni Altunkaya and Mike Wilson heralded his return to action, and though he missed the Super Series, the sanctioning body made him Oleksandr Usyk’s mandatory challenger. When Usyk moved to heavyweight instead, Lebedev regained the “super” belt and was ordered to face “regular” champ Arsen Goulamirian.
And now here we are. He retires at 32-2 (23 KO).
Lebedev was a gutsy, entertaining, and extremely capable fighter whose only official career losses were questionable split decisions against some of the division’s best. We wish the 39-year-old luck in whatever he decides to pursue next.