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Week 1 World Series of Boxing Preview: Mumbai & Leipzig Teams Debut & More

With Friday being the big curtain raiser for the second season of World Series of Boxing (WSB), the Mumbai Fighters and Leipzig Leopards will make their landmark debuts at home against tough opponents in the shape of the Dolce & Gabbana Milano Thunder and the Mexico City Guerreros.

This week we preview all matches as we focus on the immense pool of talent that will be on show over the next three days. Strong teams, excellent boxers and an atmosphere unrivalled, the season is sure to start with a bang. Here we give you a teaser of what is to come.

The match of the week

Sunday we look forward to enjoying the most anticipated tie of this opening week-end with the Los Angeles Matadors team hosting the Astana Arlans in a re-match of last year’s semi-finals. A true grudge match in Group A, the Matadors will be looking to avenge the defeat they suffered last time around and please the crowds at the Music Box in the heart of Hollywood. The atmosphere is sure to be electric, especially knowing that the Kazak team came back from a 2-1 deficit to triumph on the Matadors turf last season with the final deciding bout won on a split decision. Rau’Shee Warren, Eric Fowler, David Imoesiri, Yerzhan Mussafirov, Abdelhafid Benchabla and Chouaib Bouloudinats are just a few names amongst these two impressive squads.

The fight of the week

In Group A, Irishman Patrick Gallagher, 2010 Commonwealth Games gold medallist, will make his debuts for Mumbai taking on the powerhouse Sergiy Derevyanchenko of Milan in what looks like the biggest bout of this opening week-end. The Ukrainian was simply irresistible last season, becoming the top ranked WSB Middleweight and taking the Individual World title with a record of six wins no losses. A rite of passage for the boxer drafted a couple weeks ago by the Indians.

The other matches

The first tie on Friday will see the Mumbai Fighters make their bow at their Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex in Balewadi, Pune against the huge favourites Dolce & Gabbana Milano Thunder team. The Italian outfit will be an awesome proposition for the newcomers with amongst their ranks another WSB Champion, Clemente Russo also on the bill. The Mumbai Fighters can expect a baptism of fire but this will surely be a spectacle to remember for all the supporters and viewers of ESPN Star Sports in India.

Later in the evening, the defending champions Paris United will open proceedings in Group B by taking on the Istanbulls at the Stade Pierre de Coubertin in the heart of the French capital. All eyes in this match-up will fall on the Heavyweight division as the tough and hard-hitting Croatian Filip Hrgovic, whose explosive style is a real crowd pleaser, goes head-to-head with Yusuf Acik. These two teams will be evenly matched with several boxers WSB debutants. Paris United proved last season that they have the know-how and the set-up to challenge for honours on all fronts.

Fighting from the impressive Olympic Sports Center ‘Serhedchi’, the Baku Fires will be counting on the support of the boisterous crowds with four out of the five boxers showcasing their skills being Azeri nationals. Their opponents, the Wuxi Dragons will hope to use the element of surprise having kept their preparation under wraps in the build-up to the season opener in Group B. Leading the charge for the Baku Fires will be local star Ramazan Magomedau who was undefeated in his four bouts last season, the Light Heavyweight faces unknown quantity Yunlong Shi.

The other newcomers to the competition, the Leipzig Leopards host the Mexico City Guerreros on Saturday night to close the first set of matches in Group B. This meeting is sure to set the pulses racing with both teams bringing tough competitors to the ring. It will be very interesting to see the reigning Youth Olympic Games gold medallist and Youth World Champion Artur Bril make the jump to senior level in WSB. The Guerreros will relish this challenge and have come well prepared with four of its five boxers’ veterans of the first season. Watch out for 21-year-old William Williams of the visiting team, the American is a real force in the Middleweights.

Boxer to watch

The Wuxi Dragons Heavyweight Joseph Parker from New-Zealand is one of the youngest participants this season (19). Selected in the first round of the WSB Draft held in October, the 2010 Youth Olympic Games silver medallist will have a tough first appearance against Baku Fires Abdulkadir Abdullayev who won both his bouts last season, including one by TKO. Not under any pressure, the Kiwi will hope to make the headlines by winning on the opening weekend of WSB.