The first leg of the World Series of Boxing (WSB) “Clash of Champions” Exhibition extravaganza took place at the Daulet Sporting Complex in Astana, with WSB Season IV Champions Cuba Domadores claiming a 4-1 lead over Season III winners Astana Arlana Kazakhstan.
Kicking the event off was the Light Flyweights, and the 49 kg stars exhibited an exciting 25 minutes of non stop action.
Cuba’s Santiago Amador is a WSB rookie, and was competing against Kazakhstan’s Mardan Berikbayev, who was one of the stand out boxers in his weight class last season.
Berikbayev continued where he left off, as he controlled the contest from the beginning, with the raucous crowd cheering on his every move.
Both boxers were incredibly quick, but it was the Kazakh who edged the bout, despite the obvious potential of the aggressive of Amador, who finished the contest strongly in spite of his loss.
The official result was a unanimous points win for Berikbayev 49:46, 49:46 and 48:47.
More speedsters followed in the second contest, with Cuba’s London 2012 Olympic Champion Robeisy Ramírez facing off against WSB veteran Bagdad Alimbekov.
Ramírez is one of the most exciting boxing prospects in the world, and the star survived a difficult first round to claim victory in his first WSB contest since January.
Alimbekov tried hard, but Ramírez consistently seemed to be playing an eternal game of cat and mouse, as he danced around the ring mixing his reflexes with constant attacks.
The Cuban will be one to watch in Season V, and only dropped one point on one scorecard in the fight.
Next up was a clash between two top five Light Welterweights (64 kg) in Season IV, as the two-time AIBA World Championships Silver medalist Yasnier Toledo took on the underrated Askhat Ualikhanov.
Ualikhanov spoke positively of the fight beforehand, and he wasn’t overwhelmed by his decorated opponent.
The fight was very close, as each fighter dominated certain rounds as they battled through a contest which mostly took place in the centre of the ring.
It was all to play for going into the last round with each fighter capable of winning, but in the end it was Toledo who managed to win, with his more flamboyant shots impressing the judges that little bit more, winning via split decision 49:46 and 48:47 as one judge scored the fight 48:47 for the Astana Arlans fighter.
After the lower weights had fought, the hard hitting Middleweights (75 kg) took to the ring, as Cuba’s Arlen Lopez faced Kazakhstan’s Yerik Alzhanov.
Both were in good form coming into the fight, with Lopez winning two gold medals in recent months, and Alzhanov claimed a well earned silver in June’s Liventsev Memorial Tournament in Minsk.
The key component of this fight was power, with both boxers slugging it out from the first seconds of the fight, in another close 25 minutes which arguably could have gone either way.
With both boxers tiring a little towards the end of the fight, it was Lopez who managed to maintain his composure, eventually winning via split decision 49:46, and 48:47, while one judge gave the impressive Alzhanov the win 48:47.
Closing the night was WSB Heavyweight (91kg) supremo Erislandy Savon, who maintained his undefeated record in the competition with a win over Astana Arlans debutant Almat Serimov.
Savon dominated the first round as he has so many times in the past, but was given an awful shock in the second as Kazakhstan’s Asian Games bronze medallist found his range and won the round on two scorecards.
Unfortunately for the game Serimov it was to be the only rounds he would be given, as Savon went on to control the rest of the fight in his traditional entertaining way.
With the night ending 4-1 in the Cubans favour, all the pressure will be on Astana Arlans to bridge the gap, and try and win the Clash of Champions.