ATLANTA – Batyr Akhmedov didn’t do anything flashy Saturday night.
The southpaw from Uzbekistan simply pressured Argenis Mendez for eight rounds and wore down his 35-year-old opponent. Mendez said he suffered an injury to his right hand and couldn’t answer the bell for the start of the ninth round on the Gervonta Davis-Mario Barrios pay-per-view undercard at State Farm Arena.
The 30-year-old Akhmedov, who represented Turkey at the 2016 Summer Olympics, improved to 9-1 and recorded his eighth knockout in this WBA super lightweight championship elimination match.
Mendez (25-7-3, 12 KOs, 1 NC), of Yonkers, New York, lost by technical knockout for just the second time in his 14-year pro career. The Dominican veteran, a former IBF junior lightweight champion, is 2-4-2 in his past eight fights.
Akhmedov has won each of his two fights since losing a controversial unanimous decision to Barrios in September 2019. Barrios dropped Akhmedov twice in that bout, once in the fourth round and again in the 12th round, fended off an aggressive Akmedov during the second half of their bout and won the then-vacant WBA world super lightweight title Barrios was set to defend versus Davis later Saturday night.
His victory Saturday night kept Akhmedov in position to get a shot at the title he felt he should’ve won when he battled Barrios. The WBA ordered an immediate rematch following Barrios’ questionable win nearly two years ago.
Akhmedov’s volume won him the eighth round and apparently did enough damage to dissuade Mendez from coming out of his corner to start the ninth round.
Akhmedov turned Mendez’s head with a left hand with about 1:15 to go in the seventh round. Akhmedov kept pressing the action in that round and the slower Mendez had difficulty dealing with his pressure.
Akhmedov landed to Mendez’s head and body during the sixth round. Mendez was comparatively inactive during those three minutes.
Mendez landed two body shots with about a minute to go in the fifth round.
Mendez’s right hand moved Akhmedov backward with about 1:15 to go in the fourth round. A right hook by Akhmedov later in the fourth round made Mendez reset his feet.
Akhmedov landed a straight left hand with about a minute to go in the third round. They fought on the inside for most of that round, yet Mendez again didn’t land many clean punches.
Mendez stood his ground more during the second round than he did during the opening round. Akhmedov still had trouble landing clean shots on him, though Mendez didn’t completely commit to many punches during those three minutes.
A clash of heads opened a cut above Akhmedov’s left eye during the second round as well.
Akhmedov pressed the action throughout the first round, but Mendez defended himself well and remained out of Akhmedov’s punching range.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.