Lionhearts enchant fans with close to perfect victory over Mexico (4-1)
Having lost only once in a very promising night at London’s York Hall, the British have taken a good option against the Guerreros in the World Series of Boxing (WSB) quarter-finals. Wins for Andrew Selby, Joe Ward, John Joe Nevin and Joe Joyce sealed the win to continue the Lionhearts strong home form.
Opening proceedings at Light Heavyweight (80-85kg), Irishman Joe Ward has not disappointed his fans who were expecting an easy way out against Albanian Mexico Guerreros Christian Demaj. Controlling the fight from the first to the last second, Ward has had absolutely no doubt during the five rounds, winning each and every one of them in the opinion of the three judges.
The Lionhearts were therefore leading 1-0 but the scenario was completed reversed in the second bout. At Middleweight (68-73kg), another Irish impressed the expert public of the York Hall with Guerreros Conrad Cummings dominating Aston Brown. If both boxers have had their best moments, Cummings speedy attacks were always more precise and thus efficient.
It was also all about speed in the Bantamweight (50-54kg) contest when ‘Welsh Wonder’ Andrew Selby confirmed he is currently the best in his division. However it hasn’t been easy for the entertaining Lionheart who was often counter-attacked by clever Aaron Alameda. Selby won in the views of each judge, but he had to wait until the fourth round to clearly get on top of his opponent.
Selby was followed by John Joe Nevin at Lightweight (57-61kg) who made it 3-1 to the host Franchise and secured the victory on the night as he cruised to a comfortable win over Fernando Alvarez Diaz.
Heavyweight (91+kg) Joe Joyce rounded the evening off with a unanimous victory over Milutin Stankovic to enhance his growing reputation and take his record for the season to five wins out of six.
“It was a great performance tonight from the team however this tie is far from over and the Mexican’s will be a very different proposition at home in next week’s second leg when we will be competing at very high altitude and the Guerreros will field their strongest boxers,” said the British Lionhearts Performance Director, Rob McCracken.
Hosting the return leg at fortress Foro Polanco on Friday 29 March, Mexico Guerreros will now put its best weapons on the ring hoping for a clean 5-0 victory. One bout won by the Lionhearts and this match will be decided by a Light Heavyweight tiebreaker. Two successes and the Brits will be in the semi-finals.
A night to remember for Ukraine against Azerbaijan (5-0)
Absolutely irresistible in front of 7,000 people at the Palace of Sports in Kyiv, the Otamans have probably secured a decisive advantage against Azerbaijan Baku Fires in the first leg of this World Series of Boxing (WSB) quarter-final. Approaching the return leg next Saturday with a lot of confidence and their team’ captain Vasyl Lomachenko, Ukrainians are on the best possible way to the Final Four.
The evening started perfectly for the host Franchise with a shock at Bantamweight (50-54kg). Despite the huge experience of Individual Champion Gairbek Germakhanov, the offensive style of Ukraine Mykola Butsenko made the difference in a very enjoyable fight. Running after the score the entire five rounds, the Azeri did not escape from a second loss in his WSB career, the first one this season.
Entertaining the crowds as much as he impresses his opponent, Denys Berinchyk however had a pretty tough second WSB bout against Hurshid Tojibaev at Lightweight (57-61kg). Clearly dominated in the first round, the London 2012 silver medallist seemed to find a better rhythm in the following minutes and imposed his aggressive style all the way to the final gong. His face was expressing relief when he was declared the winner.
Competing at Middleweight (68-73kg), facing Azeri star Khaybula Musalov, Otamans’ revelation Dmytro Mytrofanov has tonight confirmed that he is one of the best boxers in the league. Following three tactical rounds, with both fighters landing very few punches, the last six minutes offered the public an impressive and tireless battle. More precise and efficient than his opponent, Mytrofanov finally saw his arm raised at the end of the bout, offering the overall victory to his team.
Having in mind the complicated return leg next week in Baku, Light Heavyweight (80-85kg) Oleksandr Gvozdyk then stepped into the ring to compete against unbeaten Moldovan Vladimir Cheles. In the fifth round of what was so far the closest bout of the night, the Ukrainian London 2012 bronze medallist managed to land a powerful left hook that sent Cheles to the canvas and offered a fourth point to the host Franchise.
The most anticipated Heavyweight (91+kg) battle could now set the 7,000-seater venue on fire. Facing each other for the very first time in their career, World and Olympic Champion Oleksandr Usyk and World Champion and Olympic bronze medallist Magomedrasul Medzhidov started impressively. As tall as his Azeri rival, but much more mobile and quicker, Usyk managed to control the fight all the way, winning each and every round in the opinion of the three judges. This way he was confirming he is surely the best WSB Heavyweight at this stage.
With the obligation to have a perfect night, Azerbaijan Baku Fires will now host the return leg on Saturday 30 March at the Olympic Sports Center “Serhedchi” in Baku. In case of a draw after ten bouts on aggregate, the tiebreaker of this quarter-final will be a Middleweight bout.