It was nothing short of a real life Rocky Story on Friday night in Cairo, Egypt, when late substitute Lasha Gurguliani stepped in to face local hero Andreas Valavanis for the vacant World Boxing Federation (WBF) World Super Welterweight title.
A genuine road-warrior. Gurguliani (28) has continuously taken short notice assignments all over the world, fighting in Kazakhstan, Ukraine, Latvia, Belgium, Italy, Hungary, Germany and Russia with mixed results, besides his native Georgia.
Despite beating Nuhu Lawal (25-3) in Germany and Arif Magomedov (18-2) in Russia in two of his previous three outings, Gurguliani travelled to Egypt as the underdog, a natural consequence of accepting the fight not much more than a week ago.
But the visitor proved his actual class by thoroughly dominating Valavanis, scoring six knock-downs along the way to secure a unanimous decision despite being knocked down once himself, and having two points deducted for fouls. Valavanis had one point deducted for a foul.
Judge Eddie Marshal from South Africa scored the fight 116-103, while judges Adesanya Olusegun Ayodele from Nigeria and Emmanuel Mlundwa from Tanzania had it much too close at 110-107 and 110-109 respectively.
The new WBF World Champion improved his professional record to 18-6 (6), while former WBF All Africa, International and Intercontinental titlist Valavanis drops to 13-2 (11). Still only twenty-seven years old, the Egyptian showed tremendous courage to last the distance and has time to improve and come again.
Promoter of the fight was Richard Nwoba and Louaa Boxing Promotions.