By Jake Donovan
Kamil Szeremeta was viewed as taking a considerable risk in traveling to France to defend his European middleweight title versus local contender Andrew Francillette.
Given the current movement in the middleweight division, his winning performance on the road could very well make him a rich man in his next ring outing.
The unbeaten middleweight from Poland put together a sustained attack over 12 rounds retain his perfect record and regional title Saturday evening at Palais du Littoral in Grande-Synthe, Nord, France.
Scores were 117-112 (twice) and 118-111 in favor of Szeremeta, who is now in prime position to parlay the win into a lucrative payday with any given top middleweight.
Poland’s Szeremeta was fighting on the road for just the second time in his career, his lone other occasion resulting in his winning the very title he just defended in scoring a 2nd round knockout of Alessandro Goddi last February in Rome, Italy.
He showed no concern of fighting in hostile territory versus Francillettee, who enjoyed a visible size advantage but was proven to be the lesser of two modest-hitting middleweights. Szeremeta forced an aggressive pace early, sticking his jab and charging in with straight right hands against an opponent constanty on the retreat.
By the time Francillette thought to stand his ground and fight back, he’d already dug a considerable deficit on the scorecards. Worse, he lacked the type of neutralizing power to turn the tide, instead having to wade through the storm in hopes that Szeremeta would eventually tire.
The visiting titlist showed signs of slowing down in the later rounds, but continued to fight far more assertive than would normally be expected of a boxer with a sub-30% knockout rate. Francillette stood his ground down the stretch, with enough early close rounds taking place to where he felt genuinely jobbed once the final cards were announced.
Already armed with home region advantage, Francillette ultimately let a golden opportunity slip away simply by not letting his hands go in so many close rounds. He loses for the second time in his past three starts as a result, falling to 21-2-1 (5KOs).
Meanwhile, Szeremeta’s future never looked brighter. In cruising to 19-0 (4KOs), he remains firmly close to the top of the WBC and WBA middleweight rankings. The only fighter ranked above him in each set of rankings is Golovkin, who just recently inked a lucrative contract with sports streaming service DAZN and is on the hunt for an opponent in June.
Szeremeta couldn’t better fit the bill of an approvable opponent—an unbeaten record, TV-friendly style, lofty ranking and modest hitting enough to where opposing promoters aren’t the least bit threatened about his upsetting the apple cart.
Even if Golovkin decides to go another route, WBO beltholder Demetrius Andrade and WBC interim titlist Jermall Charlo are both in search of opponents for their next respective fights. Both titlists are also eyeing separate dates in June for their ring return.
Whichever direction his career next heads, Szeremeta’s future never looked any brighter than the moment his hand was raised in an otherwise random European title fight in France.
The bout aired live on RMC Sport in France, as well as streaming live on its website. Opening the telecast was a savage super middleweight scrap drawing early accolades for year’s best round, fight and knockout.
Gustave Tamba scored his second consecutive 1st round knockout, having to climb off the deck in order to get rid of Shamil Ismailov in a battle of France-based super middleweights.
Ismailov (16-5-1, 13KOs)—a 32-year old Russian transplant whose career has struggled as of late—literally came out swinging, flooring Tamba with a right hand shot seconds into the contest and seemingly on his way to a career-resurrecting upset.
Tamba (12-1, 9KOs) beat the count but was under siege against an overzealous opponent. The 27-year old used that aggression to his advantage, shaking loose the residual damage from his earlier knockdown to catch Ismailov with a perfectly timed counter left hook. Ismailov managed to rise to his feet, but the ensuing volley of shots forced the stoppage.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox