The World Series of Boxing has played host to four seasons of exceptional boxing, and months before the start of Season V, a special match is taking place tonight and tomorrow at the Daulet Sporting Complex in Astana. Season IV Champions Cuba Domadores will take on Season III titlists and Season IV semi-finalists Astana Arlans Kazakhstan with ten bouts scheduled across two nights of the “Clash of Champions”.
Cuba Domadores won the WSB title in their debut season, while Astana Arlans Kazakhstan have consistently achieved great results in their WSB history. This contest will be a chance for both Franchises to gain a mental advantage over other teams before Season V officially begins.
The first fight of leg one is at Light Flyweight 49 kg, with Cuba’s Santiago Amador competing against Kazakhstan’s Mardan Berikbayev.
22-year-old Amador won the silver medal at June’s Roberto Balado Cup in his native Cuba, and also has experience of competing in Kazakhstan, as he took part in May’s Serik Konakbayev Boxing Tournament in Pavlodar.
His opponent, 24-year-old Mardan Berikbayev won the Issatai Taimanov & Makhambet Utemisov Memorial Tournament in May, and was one of the most exciting Light Flyweights to watch last season.
The experience is with Berikbayev in this fight, but Amador will be looking to make an early statement for Cuba.
Following up the speed merchants are the as quick Bantamweights (56 kg) with a mouthwatering clash between London 2012 Olympic Champion Robeisy Ramírez, and WSB veteran Bagdad Alimbekov.
Ramirez teams both dashing offence with a slick defence, and won his two WSB matches last season against Mexican Brian González and Azerbaijani Magomed Gurbanov.
Alimbekov has a 7-2 record in his WSB career, and also defeated Magomed Gurbanov last season.
This match is a big test for Ramirez who hasn’t fought for Cuba Domadores since January. Many will expect the Cuban, who won an Olympic gold medal at just 18 to win this match, but the crafty Alimbekov will be looking to upset his younger rival.
Yasnier Toledo was one of the most impressive Light Welterweights (64 kg) in WSB last season, and the 24-year-old has two AIBA World Championships Silver medals, and a Bronze from the London 2012 Olympic Games. The Cuban amassed a record of 5-2 in his debut WSB season.
His opponent, Askhat Ualikhanov was ranked in the top five Light Welterweights last season, and won three of his five fights over the course of the season.
Toledo performed better last season, but Ualikhanov is confident ahead of the contest, telling the official WSB website:
“We haven’t met in the ring before, and therefore I am eagerly awaiting this bout.
Especially as I have always wanted to box against an Olympic medalist!”
Middleweight (75 kg) Arlen Lopez went into the WSB Finals of Season IV having lost his only prior WSB match, but his victory in Baku against Khaybula Musalov was sensational, and he showed his developing skills magnificently.
Kazakhstan’s Yerik Alzhanov struggled a little in Season IV, but won a silver medal in June’s Liventsev Memorial Tournament in Minsk, and will fancy his chances against Lopez, who has won two gold medals in Cuba over the past two months.
The final fight of night one sees perhaps the best fighter of Season IV, against an intriguing young prospect making his WSB debut.
Erislandy Savon was one of the standout Heavyweights (91 kg) of Season IV, winning all seven of his contests in dominating fashion. The Cuban star mixes power, speed, poise and athleticism in the ring, which makes him a dangerous opponent for anybody.
Kazakhstan’s Asian Games bronze medallist Almat Serimov reached the semi-finals of May’s Konakbayev Tournament, and the Heavyweight has power in both hands.
Savon may well be the heavy favorite, but expect it to be a competitive contest.