Home Amateur & Olympic Ukraine & Kazakhstan to meet in WSB team finals

Ukraine & Kazakhstan to meet in WSB team finals

Credit: World Series of Boxing

Ukraine first in Team Finals with massive blow over Italian defending Champion (5-0)

Led by superstar Vasyl Lomachenko, the Otamans have sent shockwaves to World Series of Boxing (WSB) by coming back from a 1-4 loss last week in the first leg and eliminating last season’s winner Dolce & Gabbana Italia Thunder in the semi-finals. Offering an impressive clean sheet to the 7,000 spectators of the Palace of Sports in Kiev, Ukraine reaches the WSB Team Finals for their very first participation in the competition.

Credit: World Series of Boxing
Credit: World Series of Boxing

With Italian Bantamweight (50-54kg) Daniele Limone unable to make the weight and therefore to face Mykola Butsenko in an official bout, the match started at Lightweight (57-61kg) with two-times Olympic and World Champion Vasyl Lomachenko going toe-to-toe with tough and experienced 2009 AIBA World Champion, Domenico Valentino of Dolce & Gabbana Italia Thunder. The two had already met in the semi-finals of the AIBA World Boxing Championships Baku 2011 where Lomachenko had eliminated the Italian on his way to his second World title. This time around, Valentino did not seem to be at his best level and left the Ukrainian superstar with the best options to attack. Lomachenko could therefore make the most of his powerful left jabs and secure an already large advantage against a bleeding opponent after six minutes. Much better than Valentino all the way until the final gong, the Otaman easily gave a 2-0 lead to his team on an unanimous 50-45 victory.

Coming up next at Middleweight (68-73kg), Dmytro Mytrofanov has demonstrated a lot of motivation against Dolce & Gabbana Italia Thunder’s Michel Tavares. The 23-year-old Ukrainian started the bout by getting as close as possible from the taller Frenchman to land some precise hooks and take a short lead after the first round. Between a physically stronger Tavares and a quick Mytrofanov, the show was good and the contest very even. The decision finally came from some serious uppercuts landed by the Ukrainian in the last three minutes of the fight.

The second most anticipated bout of the night was scheduled at Light Heavyweight (80-85kg) between undefeated Otaman Oleksandr Gvozdyk and 2011 WSB Individual Champion Abdelhafid Benchabla. The last time those two met was in the quarter-finals of the London 201 Olympic Games and the Ukrainian had won on a close decision to then secure a bronze medal. For this re-match, the Algerian landed more punches in the opening round before Gvozdyk equalized in the following three minutes. Benchabla then tried to control the rhythm of the contest but was too tired in the fourth round to contain the precise Ukrainian’s attacks. Gvozdyk finally won this narrow battle on a split decision, giving the lead to his team at 5-4 on aggregate.

It was then time for the Palace of Sports of Kiev to land its full support on Heavyweight (91+kg) Rostyslav Arkhypenko facing Youth Olympic Champion and London Olympian Tony Yoka. That was probably not the most beautiful bout of the evening and despite Yoka’s longer arms, Arkhypenko managed to find the right distance to fight. However the battle was only decided in the last round when the Ukrainian was in a better shape to secure his first ever WSB success. His career highlight resulted in the qualification of the Ukraine Otamans for the WSB Team Finals scheduled for 10-11 May 2013 at the 9,000-seater Saryarka Velodrome of Astana, Kazakhstan.

Kazakhstan impresses once more to reach WSB Team Finals (5-0)

Amazingly focused and strong throughout the entire night at the Almaty Towers Business Center, Astana Arlans Kazakhstan has had absolutely no worry against the Mexico Guerreros. Considered since the beginning of this World Series of Boxing (WSB) season as one of the favourites for the title, the Kazakhs have won eight of the ten bouts of this semi-final. Their Team Finals against the Ukraine Otamans promise to be an extraordinary spectacle.

Arlans No.1 Bantamweight (50-54kg) Bagdad Alimbekov had the tough task to open the curtains as the clear favourite against 19-year-old Mexican Aaron Alameda, who had only won a contest in Season III. Despite some similarities in the styles of the two southpaws, it turned out to be an easy one for Alimbekov whose strong punches had badly hurt Alameda in the first two rounds. The Kazakh’s dangerous left jabs ended the job and offered a precious 1-0 to the Arlans.

Whilst Kazakhstan Lightweight (57-61kg) Samat Bashenov had won all of his fights this season, Belarusian Vazgen Safaryants had done the exact opposite. Bashenov started pretty well, trying to use his longer arms as much as he could to find the best possible attacking positions. As of the third round, Safaryants added some speed to his precise combinations and forced the Kazakh to adapt his style and put all his strength in the fight to keep the lead and offer a second victory to his team. That was for sure the closest bout of the night, the turning point.

Coming back in the spotlight just a few weeks after his first ever WSB defeat, Middleweight (68-73kg) supremo Sergiy Derevyanchenko was motivated enough to face Mexico Guerreros’ Irish rising star Conrad Cummings. As expected, the Arlan tried to keep his opponent under pressure from the first to the last second of the bout. Cummings, whose footwork is excellent, stood as a very competitive rival but Derevyanchenko’s experience was enough to control the rhythm. This third victory in the night was officially offering Astana Arlans Kazakhstan its qualification for the WSB Team Finals, no matter which results would come from the last two fights.

Next up at Light Heavyweight (80-85kg), Iran’s best boxer Ehsan Rouzbahani left no hope to Mexico Guerreros Bojan Miskovic after a number of powerful combinations forced the referee to stop the contest before the end of the first round. Rouzbahani was declared the winner – by TKO – for the quickest of his four successes in a row.

Astana Arlans Kazakhstan’s team captain and Best Asian WSB Boxer of 2012, Heavyweight (91+kg) Ruslan Myrsatayev was then offered the opportunity to finish the work with style. Confronted with Milutin Stankovic, the 28-year-old Kazakh controlled this last contest from the very first seconds. In the end Myrsatayev was just too strong for the Serbian who conceded his fourth defeat this season.

Reaching their second WSB Team Finals in three seasons, the Arlans will face Ukraine on the 10th and 11th of May 2013 at the Saryarka Velodrome. After 11 matches (out of 14) and 49 bouts (out of 70) won this season, the Kazakhs will be looking at confirming their status of favourites. But with a team made of amazing boxers such as Denys Berinchyk, Vasyl Lomachenko, Dmytro Mytrofanov, Oleksandr Gvozdyk and Oleksandr Usyk, the Otamans are not yet ready to say their last word. Tickets are already available here http://worldseriesboxing.com/index.php/team-finals/2012-2013-wsb-team-finals-vip-packages.