Artem Lobov is once again a winner in combat sports. “The Russian Hammer” outlasted former two-division boxing champion Paulie Malignaggi in a five-round bare knuckle boxing match on Saturday in Tampa, Florida, to score a unanimous decision win 48-47 on all three judges scorecards.
Despite a lack of action in the first two rounds, Malignaggi appeared to be in control with his speed and distance, keeping Lobov at bay, while the Russian stayed tentative and unwilling to engage in a brawl. Malignaggi landed a couple of strong jabs on Lobov and a pair of right hooks that wobbled his opponent.
Can’t get enough MMA? Subscribe to our podcast State of Combat with Brian Campbell where we break down everything you need to know in the Octagon.
But in the third round, the tide started turning for Lobov. The Team SBG Ireland product turned the fight into a brawl, throwing Malignaggi into the ropes and using his dirty boxing and clinch work to score points on the judges scorecards.
“It was an emotional fight. I came in on the back foot a little more than usual,” Lobov said. “I still pressed, it was a nice decision win for me. Being in there with a professional boxer, it was my first time. The whole fight, more or less, was boxing. We clinched very little. He was good at defending and I wanted to box myself as well. Without gloves, the punches are much faster, so it’s harder to time them and slip the, but we got the job done.”
After the third round, Lobov continued to press forward and appear to land a few shots on Malignaggi, who after the fight, said that wasn’t really the case. No matter, the judges still scored the awkward bout three rounds to two for the Russian, who is now 2-0 in Bare Knuckle FC.
“Honestly, I got hit with one clean punch all night. I think he got me with two little punches in the clinch, and that was it. Other than that, it was little grazing shots that hit my face. I thought I pretty much outboxed him the whole way. I’ve broken my hand several times, I’m pretty sure when I threw that jab to the stomach and right hand to the head in Round 2, I’m pretty sure my right hand is broken. I felt a pain that I’m pretty familiar with,” Malignaggi said. “But nonetheless, I thought I outboxed him pretty well. I hit with jabs on the way in and check hooks. Maybe, just maybe, this wasn’t meant to be. Maybe this was just something that a lot of people in boxing told me ‘you’re above this, you shouldn’t do this, you’re a two-time world champion, this is beneath you,’ and I thought I’d give this sport a shot because I think it’s a cool sport and there’s a built in rivalry that I think the fans would really love to see.”
After the whole build up to the fight that involved Malignaggi shoving, spitting and smacking Lobov on the head with a microphone, the two seem to have put the animosity behind them, sharing an embrace in the ring after the fight. There is still some lingering frustration from the Malignaggi camp for the McGregor sparring session video, but that’s a conversation for another day.
“To me, there is many people out there who talk a lot of s—, and then they don’t show up,” Lobov said. “You know, Paulie, he shows up. You can like him or hate him, but he shows up. I will always respect a fighter for that. The show goes on.”