This Thursday via Top Rank on ESPN, Vlad Panin, 7-1 (4 KOs) of Belarus, faced off against Benjamin Whitaker, 13-3 (3 KOs) in a welterweight contest. Panin, a UCLA English and Creative Writing graduate, started things patiently as he worked behind his jab on the 36 year-old Whitaker. Panin landed a nice left hook midway through for which Whitaker answered with a right hook of his own. Panin, though, was able to get in another clean left shortly thereafter.
In the second the broadcast replay showed the two fighters landing an uppercut simultaneously in the first. Panin remained poise in the second but it was Whitaker who had the higher output as he looked to engage Panin at any chance, often getting the better of the exchanges. Whitaker chose to bounce around on the outside to start the third as Panin stalked forward, looking to gain control. Panin was able to get the better of Whitaker on exchanges when the to did meet up. Whitaker was able to get off a two punch combination near the end of the round followed by a clean right, making things interesting.
Panin stepped up his output in the fourth round of the six round contest and was able to catch Whitaker with a solid three punch combination cleanly near the midpoint of the round. Both fighters had their moments to close the round. Both fighters fought evenly through the midway point of round five but as the round continued Panin got the better of Whitaker as he was able to land his left hook as Whitaker shot from a distance.
In the sixth and final round, Whitaker got off two nice left hooks at the opening of the round as he stepped up his aggression. Both men continued to jockey for position but Whitaker was pressing Panin as he simply looked to counter. Panin stepped up his jab output as the round wore on and was successful in thwarting Whitaker’s attack.
Both fighters remained on their feet as the final bell rang sending the fight to the judges. When the scores were read it was a majority decision victory for Vlad Panin with scores of 58-56 twice, and 57-57.
Photo Credit: Mikey Williams/Top Rank