Eduardo Nunez Stops Shavkatdzhon Rakhimov In 11th Round Of IBF Title Eliminator

Boxing Scene

Eduardo Nunez was sweet as ‘Sugar’ in his most challenging assignment to date.

The ferocious punching contender from Los Mochis, Mexico traveled abroad and went the deepest in his nine-year career to pick up his most significant win thus far. Nunez applied relentless pressure to wear down and stop former 130-pound titlist Shavkatdzhon Rakhimov in the eleventh round of their IBF title eliminator Friday evening on the road in Dushanbe, Tajikistan.

Rakhimov—who fought in his birth country for the first time—put his supreme skill set to good use in the early rounds. It was required as Nunez was far more polished than was expected by the former IBF junior lightweight titlist. Rakhimov punched in combination, but often off the back foot as Nunez spent nearly the entire fight charging ahead and forced an inside fight.

Nunez found repeat success with his right hand and body shots. Rakhimov relied on his reflexes to minimize the impact on the occasions he couldn’t completely dodge the incoming.

Rakhimov began to slow in the middle rounds, a horrible prospect as Nunez was still going strong. Nunez had the local favorite pinned against the ropes and fired off body shots and heavy right hands upstairs. Rakhimov was forced to clinch at center ring as he gasped in search of his second wind.

Rounds eight and nine produced a similar pattern. Rakhimov came on strong in the early portion of those frames and fired off crisp combinations. Nunez weathered the storm on every occasion and landed the more telling blows to close out both rounds.

Rakhimov enjoyed more sustained success in the tenth round. It was once again Nunez who closed strong but after Rakhimov outboxed him for much of the first two minutes of the round.

Nunez entered uncharted territory as the bell sounded to begin the eleventh round. He didn’t need very long to pick up his deepest knockout to date. Rakhimov was forced to cover up as Nunez pummeled him along the ropes. The lack of response from the former titlist forced referee Mark Nelson to step in and intervene.

The loss is the second straight for Rakhimov (17-2-1, 14KOs), who lost the IBF title to Joe Cordina last April 22 in Cardiff, Wales. The setback that night ended his reign after less than six months from his November 2022 come-from-behind ninth-round knockout of Zelfa Barrett to win the vacant title in Abu Dhabi.

Cordina (17-0, 9KOs)—a two-time and reigning titlist—is due to next face Anthony Cacace on the May 18 Tyson Fury-Oleksandr Usyk undercard in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The show was originally due to take place on Saturday but delayed when Fury suffered a cut in sparring.

The winner of Cordina-Cacace will be mandated to next face Nunez (27-1, 27KOs), who extended his current seventeen-fight win and knockout streak.

Jake Donovan is a senior writer for X (formerly Twitter): @JakeNDaBox

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