Kiwi Robbie Berridge's boxing career suffered a major setback when he was comprehensively beaten by Russian light-heavyweight champion Vasily Lepikhin in the United States today.
Berridge was floored four times before referee Gary Rosato stepped in to stop the fight 1m 4s into the fifth round.
Berridge, ranked No 9 with the WBO and 12 with the WBA, lost his WBO belts with this defeat as he struggled to counter the height, power and class of Lepikhim.
This always loomed as a risky fight for Berridge against an unbeaten opponent his handlers knew little about other than his obvious physical advantages.
In the end they proved telling as Lipikhin dominated every round.
Berridge just couldn't find a way to get his renowned left hook near the tall Russian.
The 29-year-old Kiwi, will now have to rebuild his career somehow.
His belts are gone and his rankings will dive.
It's only the second loss of his career. But it as his first defeat by TKO and it was ugly.
Making his American debut and with a live TV audience to go with it via broadcast giant NBC, Berridge didn't showcase any of the skills that have seen him dominate his home territory and earn his nickname The Butcher.
Instead he was cut down repeatedly.
This was a reality check against a fighter who looks to be on a fast-track now with American promoters Main Events clearly liking what they saw today.
Berridge had his hopes set on fighting WBO champion Sergey Kovalev. The unbeaten Russian has a unification bout looming in November with American veteran Bernard Hopkins, the IBF, WBA and IBA champion.
That is way beyond Berridge now after the punishment in Pennsylvania.
It's doubtful Lipikhin will be rushed into that assignment, given he is in Kovalev's stable. But he is on the move - in the right direction.
The statistics were damning for Berridge.
He threw 233 punches and landed just 39. Of the 98 jabs he put out, just two connected.
In the ''power punches'' category he threw 135 and landed 37.
In contrast Lepikhin was far more economical with his output but far more accurate with his returns, connecting with 78 of his 210 punches and 58 of his 111 ''power punches''.
There was plenty of toe-to-toe action in the second round with Lepikhin showing a willingness to get into close-quarter action despite his height and reach advantage.
He had a busy left hand that kept plugging the body of Berridge and he landed a telling right to Berridge's jaw just before the end of the round that saw the Kiwi given a standing count.
The Russian's accurate right did further damage in the third round as Berridge quickly fell behind on the points tally.
He reacted well, trapping Lepikhin on the ropes early in the fourth round for his best period, landing several strong shots though the Russian rallied late in the round.
Berridge walked into another right early in the fifth that took him to his knees. He got taken down again by a left soon after and the Russian rushed in to finish him off quickly from there.
Berridge was left shaking his head in disappointment.
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