Agit Kabayel maintained his unbeaten record as he scored a comfortable unanimous decision win over tough American Kevin Johnson in Germany on Saturday night.
Kabayel improved to 21-0 (13 wins inside distance) by punching his way to scorecards of 118-111 (twice) and 119-110, though he did have to come through a few uncomfortable moments in the process. He retained his WBA Continental Heavyweight title.
Johnson (now 35-18-1) is very much an opponent these days, but a tricky one at that, having taken a number of elite heavyweights the distance in the second half of his pro career to date. And he was always going to give Kabayel a stern examination.
Kabayel aggressive early
Agit (237lbs) was content to let Johnson control centre ring in the opening session and moved around nicely looking for openings. As the round wore on he produced a real show of intent, producing slick combinations to score repeatedly.
Kabayel is ranked in the top 15 by all of the major sanctioning bodies at heavyweight – including #6 with the IBF. He had been lined up to face Tyson Fury for the WBC title in London last December before that date fell through.
He came in here knowing there was a need to both increase his activity and the level of his opponents as he looks to rekindle those world-title dreams. Before Saturday he had only fought three times since probably the best win of his career so far – a decision against Dereck Chisora back in 2017.
Kabayel was backed by a passionate home crowd in Seebühne Elbauenpark, Magdeburg, and they roared him on throughout – cheering every landed punch by the German star.
The second again provided plenty of action with Johnson, talking constantly to his opponent, trudging forward and trying to land big shots. Kabayel was again on his toes and mixing in chopping right hands with an occasional left hook and uppercut. He clearly offered the greater volume, but his punches were not testing the granite chin of Johnson.
Agit was again the aggressor in Round 3 with Johnson content for long parts of the round to lean back on the ropes and dodge whatever the German was throwing. Kabayel again landed some nice shots, particularly a couple of straight rights, but they had little impact on the wily American.
‘Kingpin’ threatens a turnaround
Rounds 4 and 5 followed a similar script though Johnson did start to offer more offensively, and in the sixth ‘Kingpin’ threatened momentarily to turn the tide. Just over a minute into the session he landed two big left hands with Kabayel on the ropes, and had the German operating on very wobbly legs for a few seconds.
Kabayel though recovered swiftly with Johnson not apparently having the energy to follow up his initial assault with more flurries. By the end of the round Agit appeared to be back on an even keel and showing more aggression.
Round 7 saw Kabayel back to his sprightly best, bouncing on his toes and landing nice combinations off the back foot as the ponderous Johnson trudged forward to try and cut off the ring. Kabayel’s shots again though had little impact against the immovable American object.
Kevin used up considerable in Round 8 trying to raise the tempo. He was more aggressive in his movement and threw a steady stream of big left hooks, but the majority of them would miss the target. Kabayel had to be on his toes for most of the session but was still able to hit back with the odd sweet combination.
Johnson again started Round 9 fast, looking to cut off the ring and open up opportunities to land that big left hook. Kabayel though was too fast and whatever the American threw, the Germany responded in kind. His punches were faster and more accurate – if not venomous enough to really hurt Kevin.
The 10th followed that now familiar script of Kabayel moving sweetly and landing punches in bunches while Johnson just continued to stalk and wing those big left hands. Mostly to no avail.
Agit finishes strong
Kabayel was in confident mood in the 11th, dancing and hammering home swift combinations with Johnson and his granite chin content just to eat the punishment. It was clear to most observers by now that Johnson needed the knockout to prevail, but while he did land occasionally, his punches lacked the power of the lefts which had rocked Agit in Round 6.
Kabayel, roared on by the home crowd, came out for Round 12 knowing he only needed to stay upright to get the win. But he was in offensive mood early as he looked to put on a show for his adoring fans. The pair traded in centre ring with Agit landing at will against the tired defence of Johnson.
‘Kingpin’ did land a lovely quick combination off the ropes in the final minute to keep Kabayel honest, but by the time the bell sounded the German was very much back in the ascendancy.
The result was never really in doubt, and the scorecards (118-111 twice and 119-110) only confirmed what we already knew.