Following the postponement of several matches, Team Germany is playing catch up this weekend facing two teams in two days in the World Series of Boxing (WSB).
With a single point being enough for them to pull level with the USA in the table, the question on everybody’s lips is: can Team Germany cope with the pressure of a double billing this weekend against the Ukraine Otamans and the USA Knockouts?
Ukraine Otamans vs. Team Germany
This match has certainly brought more hope for German fans than may initially be imagined. With the Ukraine Otamans certain of a top two finish, their focus has visibly shifted to preparing for the Playoffs, where they look likely to meet either the Azerbaijan Baku Fires or the Russian Boxing Team. Resting their star boxers for that clash, whilst offering development opportunities for some of the fringe members of their squad, is now their priority. Consequently their team selection is weaker than might otherwise be expected. Indeed, the entire five man team has only amassed three WSB wins and seven bouts worth of experience between them.
However, before the Eagles fans get too excited, it turns out that Team Germany are following a similar strategy themselves and their selection has ensured that things will remain completely unpredictable tonight. Again, the Germans feel that they are in a solid position to qualify for the Playoffs with three matches in hand and two points on their nearest rivals, Argentina. Thus they are also facing the need to rest their star boxers for a probable quarter-finals match with either the defending Champions, the Astana Arlans, or group leaders Cuba and with a heavy competition schedule over the next few weeks as they make up for postponed matches, the Germans have elected to send some of their own fringe boxers to what will now be a very close match.
One to watch out for will be Robert Harutyunyan at Lightweight (60kg). An aggressive front foot boxer, Harutyunyan impressed at the AIBA World Boxing Championships Almaty 2013 and despite his 0-3 WSB record, he will be a handful for Oleg Prudkyi (1-0).
We could have another close bout at Welterweight (69kg) when the Otamans Ievgenii Barabanov goes toe to toe with Germany’s Vjaceslav Kerber. The twenty year old Ukrainian had a rough first season, losing all three bouts (though one was notably to the WSB’s most successful boxer ever Sergiy Derevyanchenko in the Finals). Now a year older and wiser, he has picked up his first WSB win against the Algeria Desert Hawks and will go into the match desperate to improve his 1-3 record. Twenty seven year old Kerber meanwhile is 1-1 across both two seasons and has similar motivations in his bid to ensure more regular selections for the German outfit.
The question then is whether Team Germany can pick up two away wins somewhere to level the score in the table with the US, which would set up an enthralling head to head match tomorrow.
Team Germany vs. USA Knockouts
If that wasn’t interesting enough, Germany will then go head to head against the USA at home on Saturday. This match could be critical in determining who has the mid-table bragging rights as the season winds up. The USA have had an excellent run of form of late and have taken at least a point in their last five matches, including a 4-1 win away to Argentina last weekend. So this could be a tough home match for Team Germany.
Both teams are putting faith in their up and coming stars. Team Germany’s Artem Harutyunyan looks set to make his long awaited WSB debut the day after his brother fights in Kiev. Artem is perhaps even more aggressive than Robert and really loves going after his opponents. He did exceptionally well at the AIBA World Championships in October with it requiring former World Champion and eventual Bronze medallist Everton Lopez of Brazil to stop him from progressing to a medal at Light Welterweight (64kg). The impressive Carlos Adames of the USA Knockouts will have to deal with a one man riot when they meet if that performance was anything to go by.
On the US side, keep an eye out for star Indian Boxer Shiva Thapa at Bantamweight (56kg) who will make his second outing after a baptism of fire in his debut against the Ukraine Otamans. He will be facing Edgar Walth who is 1-3 and keen to improve his record.