Shakur Stevenson shines but British Lionhearts steal the show on WSB’s big night in Miami
Thursday evening’s World Series of Boxing Season VI Group B curtain-raiser in Miami between two great boxing nations was always going to be an emotional affair, but at the final bell it was the British Lionhearts who took a morale-boosting first away win and left USA Knockouts reeling.
The Lionhearts got off to a strong start with European Confederation Championship silver medallist Harvey Horn managing to jab his way past US National Olympic Trials champion Nico Hernandez. Horn dominated the opening exchanges of their light flyweight bout and Hernandez’ late rally wasn’t enough to sway the judges, giving the visitors a 1-0 lead.
It wasn’t long before the Knockouts had drawn level on the night, their 2014 Youth Olympic Games winner Shakur Stevenson putting in an incredible display on his WSB debut to defeat rival Peter McGrail. Unbeaten at Youth and Junior level, the 20 year-old American bantamweight’s confidence was running high, landing a series of left hooks and uppercuts for which McGrail could find no answer.
The third contest of the night between another US Olympic Trial champion, the light welterweight Gary Russell, and Lionhearts’ Pat McCormack was a gripping affair, with Russell looking by far the more composed in the opening rounds. In a spectacular turnaround, McCormack was able to frustrate his opponent’s attacking instincts and took the final three rounds, lifting his team into a 2-1 lead.
Again the US got back on level terms, with Troy Williamson winning his middleweight bout against Charles Conwell and setting up a nail-biting heavyweight decider between Knockouts’ top boxer Cam F. Awesome and Lionhearts’ newcomer Lawrence Okolie, who only put his gloves on for the first time in 2010.
Awesome looked to have adjusted well to his move down from super heavyweight and was too fast for WSB debutant Okolie in the first round but the young British talent grew in confidence as he stopped Awesome’s waves of attacks, and eventually his heavy-hitting style gave a sensational Technical Knockout win to the British Lionhearts.
Astana Arlans Kazakhstan kick off WSB title defence against Azerbaijan Baku Fires in Karagandy
Saturday night sees last season’s World Series of Boxing champions Astana Arlans Kazakhstan begin their journey towards what would be an unprecedented title defence with a tough home tie against Azerbaijan Baku Fires. The two giants of WSB will go toe-to-toe in the Kazakh city of Karagandy in the first match of Group D.
The Arlans are again the team to beat after finishing Season V undefeated, but Baku Fires won’t shy away from the challenge following a strong campaign of their own that included ten wins in fourteen Group B matches.
Kazakhstan’s light flyweight star Temirtas Zhussupov was peerless last season, and the 2013 ASBC gold medallist will have the crowd behind him for the evening’s opening bout against Baku Fires’ upcoming 20 year-old talent Javid Dadashov. The Azeri put himself on the map last year defeating EUBC Champion Salman Alizada at the Great Silk Way Tournament in Baku, and will need to be at his very best once again to overcome Zhussupov.
Arlans’ bantamweight Meirbolat Toitov, heavily involved in both the home side’s championship-winning seasons, meets Iarash Magomedov, while Askhat Ualikhanov will have an added incentive to overcome Azerbaijan’s London 2012 Olympian Gaybatulla Gadzhialiyev following his defeat at his hands in Season V.
Kazakhstan National Champion Meirim Nursultanov faces Baku Fires’ Georgian boxer Badri Khardzhiani in the evening’s middleweight contest, before the super heavyweights take to the ring to round off the match. The home side won’t be able to count on the talismanic Vassiliy Levit, with last season’s hero replaced by 21 year-old WSB debutant Yerkin Mukhametzhan. The youngster will need to keep his cool against Baku Fires’ Russian-descent southpaw Haji Murtazaliyev in what could be the deciding bout of the match.
Morocco Atlas Lions get WSB season underway against Mexico’s mighty Guerreros
The Unidad Deportiva IV Centenario in Aguascalientes, Mexico, hosts another enticing evening of WSB action on Saturday as Mexico Guerreros take on Morocco Atlas Lions, with the home side looking to build on their semi-final surge in Season V. The Atlas Lions also looked strong during last year’s debut campaign, and will be eager to go one step further and qualify for the knockout phase.
Mexico’s U21 National silver medalist Elwin Soto will be hoping to utilise his small frame and aggressive style against Moroccan southpaw Imad Ahayoun in the opening light flyweight bout as both sides seek the early advantage. The AMBC Bantamweight silver medalist Sergio Chirino will have more of a physical advantage over the Lions’ Azzedine Madjoubi, who makes his WSB debut on Saturday night.
Mexico Guerreros’ third boxer, Raul Curiel, qualified for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games following his unbeaten record in Season V, and as such can afford to take a patient approach against Morocco’s dangerous southpaw, the experienced AIBA African Olympic Qualification Tournament winner and London 2012 Olympian Abdelhak Aatakni.
Colombia’s AMBC American Confederation Champion Jorge Luis Vivas was drafted in to the Mexico squad in December to strengthen their middleweight category, and he will be the favourite against Said Harnouf who joined the Moroccan national team in 2013. Rounding off the night is a heavyweight southpaw battle between the former AMBC American Confederation Champion Julio Castillo and Abdeldjalil Abouhamada, with the home crowd sure to get right behind their man and make a tough task even harder for Abouhamada.
Uzbek Tigers prepare for tough WSB debut in the eye of the Puerto Rico Hurricanes
A busy Week Two of the World Series of Boxing Season VI continues in San Juan, Puerto Rico on Saturday night as the hometown Hurricanes take on Uzbekistan Tigers at the Coliseo Pedrin Zorilla stadium. The hosts embark on their second season of WSB action after a confident first campaign while their Central Asian opponents will be hoping to make a big impact in their debut season.
Uzbekistan’s boxers claimed an impressive haul of six medals at the 2015 AIBA World Boxing Championships to go with their nine podium finishes at the 2015 ASBC Asian Confederation Boxing Championships, showing the strength in depth of the squad. One of its stars, southpaw Hasanboy Dusmatov, will be hoping to get the Tigers off a winning start when he takes to the ring against 20 year-old Anthony Ortiz.
Puerto Rico Hurricanes’ fresh bantamweight boxer, 19-year-old Edgardo Rolon, faces the equally young but more experienced southpaw Abdulkhay Sharakhmatov in the second bout of the day, followed by WSB debutant Jorge Martinez against Uzbekistan’s talented 19 year-old national champion Fazliddin Meliboev in the light welterweight confrontation.
Puerto Rico drafted in Raul Sanchez, a member of the Dominican Republic national side since 2010, to their squad in December, and he will face 2014 World University Championships gold medalist Ulugbek Khakberdiev in what could be the bout of the day before the evening wraps up with the heavyweights Jose Rosado and Uzbekistan’s AIBA Junior World Champion, Mirzobek Khasanov.