Kold Wars: Post Show Review
By Oliver McManus
Al Siesta’s Kold Wars bonanza rounded out its four card run on Tuesday evening with two British fighters out in Belarus. The card was opened by explosive Asian heavyweight Zhan Kossobutskiy in a ten rounder against, Polish born but Devon based, Kamil Sokolowski.
Southpaw Kossobutskiy has impressed since turning professional to rack up 13 wins with 12 inside the distance. In truth the quality of opponents have left something to be desired and Sokolowski was guaranteed to be one of his toughest tests to date. That proved to be the case early on with Kossobutskiy looking sheepishly relaxed and bizarrely tucked up in the centre of the ring: Sokolowski easily the more mobile opponent and bouncing around.
The Kazakh has built a reputation on a more laid-back style of operating so perhaps his causal mannerisms were to be expected. There was good work from Kossobutskiy by way of a padding jab whilst he looked for openings with his lurching left hands. Sokolowski, trained by Gavin Lane, looked wise to that and kept circling to his left in order to keep his opponent cautious.
Kossobutskiy’s work-rate was deceptively sluggish but when he did loosen the hands he generally found shots to flow quite nicely. Sokolowski, for his part, looked to close the distance and work away at the body. Into the third and fourth round Kossobutskiy began to turn the screw and target the tattooed torso of his opponent with more menace.
Sokolowski, 9-17-2, is known as the ultimate underdog for good reason with his habit for upsetting the applecart when shown have a chance; he made sure to keep Kossobutskiy on his toes with a whole range of crafty tactics. The Barnstaple boxer changed his levels to ensure Kossobutskiy had to reach and work for effective shots: by enlarge his unbeaten opponent managed to do just that without inflicting extensive damage.
That proved to be the case until the latter stages of the fifth when a couple of pounding shots pushed Sokolowski back before a downwards left with the Pole on the ropes forced Sokolowski into taking a knee. A 10-8 round and Kossobutskiy easing into his stride.
Despite that Sokowloski responded well in the sixth with some good work on the inside to keep Kossobutskiy honest and in the seventh he, again, had bright spells with the jab. Kossobutskiy had his nose ahead at this point so wasn’t desperate to increase his workrate and seemed content with walking his way around the ring and just ticking over. The 10th round saw exhaustion rush over the resurgent Sokolowski who, with a minute to go, was caught with the heavy hands of Kossobutskiy in fairly innocuous fashion but, clearly the cumulative damage had taken its toll.
The Pole lay spread eagle on the canvas as he looked to capture his breath with the fight promptly waved off.
Zhan Kossobutskiy (now 14-0, 12KOs) defeats Kamil Sokolowski (9-18-2) with a tenth round stoppage.
Former Southern Area champion, and British title challenger, Asinia Byfield was back in the ring for the first time since October 2018 for a ten rounder with Ismail Iliev. Iliev, 12-2-1, is a former WBC International champion (2017) but had been handed two losses in his last three fights.
Byfield looked in good nick as he made his way to the ring – a more toned physique than that of Iliev – and his long limbs served him in good stead early on. It was Iliev that took to the centre of the ring but was made to track his opponent who moved well yet perhaps pop the jab quite often enough. It opened up as quite a tit-for-tat encounter but Iliev seemed eager to impose himself on his agile counterpart.
There were good flurries from the Russian who, when managing to pin Byfield down, was energetic in his workrate and fervent with the left hooks. After a feeler first three minutes it was definitely the ‘home’ corner that was looking to push the pace of the fight and really force Byfield to look at a Plan B.
That enthusiasm continued as the rounds progressed with a really fluid left jab constantly in the eyeline of Byfield who just couldn’t click into business of his own. Short combinations were plentiful from Iliev who threw for volume more than precision and power but kept prodding away and halting any incoming attacks.
Byfield did look to bounce into action and really lean on that front leg to disrupt the rhythm of Iliev with a lurching jab from distance. It was still the home fighter who remained the busier boxer without really winding up. Fidgety footwork from the Russian had the British boxer hesitating for a half second but Byfield kept the upper body moving, changing the levels, and landed accurate punches of his own. They were more infrequent than those of Iliev but the Brit was definitely limbering up.
Unfortunately for Byfield it seemed that Iliev, too, had kept reserves in the tank for the latter stages of this content. The older Russian kept on trudging forwards with no less enthusiasm and a very resilient body of work. Whilst the punches weren’t, in isolation, doing much damage it overwhelmingly pre-occupied the mind of Byfield who was constantly being peppered with punches.
The seventh saw Byfield launch a HUGE assault of his opponent to force Iliev into hiding yet Byfield ended up worse for wear having punched himself out. The Reading fighter had produced the most eye-catching 30 seconds of the fight but couldn’t finish the job and roles reversed with Iliev looking to punish a tiring yet game Byfield.
That spell seemed to conclude any real hope of a dream comeback (if you can call it that) after two years away from the ring. Ismail Iliev applied cruise control and saw out a relatively comfortable ten rounds without much fuss.
Ismail Iliev (now 13-2-1, 3KOs) defeats Asinia Byfield (14-3) with a ten rounds points decision: 98-92, 99-92, 99-92.