After 72 matches and 365 bouts, the World Series of Boxing (WSB) Team Finals will be concluded on this last day (Saturday May 11th) of the two-day finals at the packed Saryarka Velodrome of Astana, Kazakhstan.
The remaining five bouts – potentially six in case of an aggregate draw across the two days – will be the most exciting the boxing world has seen since the London 2012 Olympic Games Finals. Our finalists will be the star studded Ukraine Otamans and local favorites Astana Arlans Kazakhstan.
ZHAKUPOV Miras (KAZ, Astana Arlans Kazakhstan) vs. BUTSENKO Mykola (UKR, Ukraine Otamans)
Arlans’ Zhakupov has had a good debut season in WSB winning three of his four bouts (3-1). The 23 year old orthodox boxer currently holds the rank of 7th. With Ukraine’s Butsenko also having won three fights (3-0 record) and being ranked just one place higher than the Kazakh boxer, we can expect this to be a lively and closely fought affair.
DONOVAN Eric Martin (IRL, Astana Arlans Kazakhstan) vs. KYSLYTSYN Vyacheslav (UKR, Ukraine Otamans)
Ireland’s Donovan comes into this final with a 1-1 record and a WSB rank of 27. The 27 year old southpaw will be looking to cement his place in the Arlans plans for next season with a strong display against his opponent. The 27 year old Ukrainian Kyslytsyn looks to be the perfect match for the Celtic boxer. Also holding a 1-1 record the Otamans athlete will feel he has been handed a reasonable draw. Another tight match looks likely with a winner difficult to predict.
SNIGUR Konstantin (ISR, Astana Arlans Kazakhstan) vs. MYTROFANOV Dmytro (UKR, Ukraine Otamans)
Konstantin has been in great form in this season’s WSB winning four out of five. He is also on a three fight winning streak and will enter these finals confident that he can mix it with whoever is put in front of him. The WSB’s number 2 Middleweight Mytrofanov is on an incredible five fight winning streak and is now considered one of the top boxers in the category. The 23 year old will be entering the ring with high expectations from his coaches and teammates.
Light Heavyweight (80-85kg)
ROUZBAHANI Ehsan (IRI, Astana Arlans Kazakhstan) vs. GVOZDYK Oleksandr (UKR, Ukraine Otamans)
London 2012 Olympic Quarter-finalist Rouzbahani has had a stunning debut WSB season. The Iranian Light Heavyweight is on a five fight winning streak. As a former world number two ranked boxer (2011), he certainly has the experience needed to perform well in his first WSB Team Finals. With extremely fast hands along with nice slick evasion skills Rouzbahani is an absolute tank in the ring. A well rounded boxer he likes to take the centre of the canvas and control the space, distance and tempo of his bouts.
But Rouzbahani will face his toughest challenge yet in Ukraine’s Gvozdyk. The London 2012 Olympic Bronze medallist has had another good season in WSB. Currently ranked 6th in the division, Gvozdyk has four wins from four bouts this year, taking him to 8-0 in WSB across two seasons.
Stylistically the bout will be interesting as both fighters are very well rounded and opt for a more tactical approach to their boxing than most. This, Ladies and Gentlemen, will be a chess match.
MYRSATAYEV Ruslan (KAZ, Astana Arlans Kazakhstan) vs. ARKHYPENKO Rostyslav (UKR, Ukraine Otamans)
The Otamans’ Arkhypenko comes into this bout with only one win in four matches after a difficult first WSB season. But at only 21 years of age the WSB number 30 seeded boxer still has time on his hands. Nonetheless, he can expect another difficult day at the office when he competes against the more experienced Myrsatayev.
Currently ranked the number 4 Heavyweight in WSB Myrsatayev is incredibly experienced, having fought in all three seasons and holding a record of 11-4. The 2008 Olympic quarterfinalist should still have enough in the tank at just 28 years of age to out manoeuvre his significantly less experienced opponent.
Tiebreaker – Bantamweight (50-54kg)
ALIMBEKOV Bagdad (KAZ, Astana Arlans Kazakhstan) vs. RISCAN Alexandr (MDA, Ukraine Otamans)
In the event of a draw between the two teams, the Finals will be decided by a sudden death match at Bantamweight. The Otamans have lined up the Moldovan Boxer Alexander Riscan to step up to the scratch. The 23 year old southpaw will enter the ring if called upon with a 3-7 record in WSB and a rank of 29. The Arlans meanwhile have opted for a totally different strategy in 24 year old southpaw Alimbekov, who is the number 3 ranked Bantamweight boxer in WSB, unbeaten this season and with a five fight winning streak.