Shafikov fended off a mid-rounds rally from Richard Commey to fight back and claim a split decision win on Friday evening in Moscow.

Commey came out ahead 116-112 on one card, but was overruled by scores 115-113 and 116-112 in favour of Shafikov.

Shafikov (38-2-1, 20 KO) used relentless pressure, high volume, and ridiculous durability to consistently force Commey (24-2, 22 KO) to the ropes and open up with hard left hands. Commey landed his fair share of solid punches, but never managed to budge the aggressive Russian and ate several solid body shots and booming lefts to the head along the way.

He is now the mandatory challenger for Robert Easter Jr.’s IBF title, which he won by scraping past Commey in September.