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World Series of Boxing week 7 match previews

Credit: AIBA

Week 7, Group A: Battle of the Americas

With the match between the table topping Ukraine Otamans and third placed Team Germany postponed to Friday 14th, the Dolce & Gabbana Italia Thunder have the chance to close the gap on the group leaders. Meanwhile, both the USA Knockouts and the Argentina Condors will be meeting in a crunch match at the bottom of the table. Should the Condors win, they will find themselves back in third place, meanwhile the Knockouts could also scrape into a Playoffs slot should they grab a surprise win away from home.

Argentina Condors vs. USA Knockouts

This looks set to be an intriguing match with both teams fielding some excellent talent. The hosts will be looking to Super Heavyweight (91+kg) Luis Bravo to lead the team with his 2-2 record. His opponent, Mohamed Sallah from Sweden, is not likely to be a pushover however as he is making his second WSB appearance, after having won his debut against the Ukraine Otamans. One to watch out for is Lightweight (60kg) Brian Nuñez.

His 0-3 WSB record doesn’t look that special on paper, but when you see who the 20 year old Argentinian has had to face in his first few bouts, you may forgive him. His debut was against former World Champion and current World silver medallist Robson Conceição of Brazil and the Italia Thunder, his second bout was against the 2012 Olympian and up-and-coming Otamans star Pavlo Ishchenko, and his most recent bout was against four-season veteran Irish boxer David Oliver Joyce.

Moreover to give Nuñez credit, he pushed them all hard. His opponent this week, Luis Arcon of the Knockouts, is making his WSB debut this weekend and may find Nuñez a real handful. On the Knockouts side, keep an eye out for Welterweight (69kg) Gabriel Maestre who was extremely impressive in the AIBA World Boxing Championships in Almaty last October where he took a bronze. He was an excellent find for the USA talent scouts and makes his WSB debut this weekend.

Dolce & Gabbana Italia Thunder vs. Algeria Desert Hawks

With the Italia Thunder having such a strong team this season, it is interesting to note which young boxers they are offering experience to in their line ups. Typically the Italians are sending three top boxers and two up-and-coming young guns to the Regular Season matches this year, in a bid to keep the squad fresh and nurture the talent that is coming through. This week Welterweight Riccardo Pintaudi gets a second bite of the cherry after losing his WSB debut against the dangerous former pro-boxer Brian Castaño of Argentina.

His opponent Sofiane Tabi is 0-2 in the WSB and will also want to improve his record. Light Heavyweight (81kg) Dutchman Peter Mullenberg has got off to a better start in his WSB career and looked very good in his debut against the Argentina Condors. His opponent Hichem Kaalaour however lost his debut match in Week 1 against Team Germany and hasn’t made the cut for the team since. Thus he will be looking to prove a point and there could be some fireworks in both these bouts.

The real excitement of course comes from the appearance of star Italia Thunder boxers Vincenzo Picardi (9-2), Domenico Valentino (10-4) and Joseph Joyce (6-1). The English Super Heavyweight Joyce was something of a sensation for the British Lionhearts last season but has only been given one opportunity to box so far this year for the Italia Thunder. He is competing for a place in the team with the likes of the great Mihai Nistor.

Consequently, he will want to cement his place in the team’s plans against Algerian debutant Fateh Touahar. Lightweight (60kg) Valentino also has a debutant in Reda Benbaziz, while Picardi has Amine Khentache who has the unfortunate record of 0-3 at Flyweight (52kg). On paper you would expect both Desert Hawks to struggle against two of the best boxers in the WSB, but you never can tell in boxing.

Week 7, Group B: Opportunity for Fires?

With third placed Russia facing a tough away match against defending champions Astana Arlans Kazakhstan, the Azerbaijan Baku Fires have the chance to draw level with the European giants on points; but only if they can muster a win in Mexico.

Cuba Domadores vs. Hussars Poland

The Domadores look set to delight their 14,000 home fans in Cuidad Deportiva, Havana, again this weekend with a display of force against the bottom placed Hussars Poland. The Hussars performances, which have always been robust displays of determination, have been improving of late, with them snatching a point in their last match against arch rivals Russia. It will be interesting to see how the underdogs now hold-up with the pressure of competing against the stand-out team of the season, and in the most challenging away venue in the World Series of Boxing (WSB).

World bronze medallist Yosbany Veitia, who is the number one ranked Light Flyweight (46-49kg) this year, will lead his team out in the night’s opening bout against Dawid Jagodzinski. The Pole has yet to win a bout this season. Life will be no easier for his team mate Lukasz Zygmunt. The 31 year old Pole will have his work cut out for him against the number 1 ranked Heavyweight (91kg). Erislandy Savon, who is the nephew of one of the greatest boxers of all time, three time Olympic Gold medallist and six time World Champion Felix Savon. Elsewhere, Ramon Luis, who lost his last bout against the Fires will want to improve his 2-1 record against Piotr Gredke (0-1) at Light Welterweight (64kg). Luis’ search for redemption means that this should also be a bout worth watching.

Mexico Guerreros vs. Azerbaijan Baku Fires

The Guerreros have had a tough season this year, but have also shown signs of a late revival. However they can expect a serious test this weekend against an ambitious and aggressive Baku Fires, who have the chance to pull level with Russia on points. Should they manage to secure an away win. Mexico City, which was a veritable fortress for the Guerreros last season has been breached on several occasions already this year.

The prize for successfully storming the proverbial ramparts for the “Bad Boys” isn’t just third place, it is the hope of avoiding Season III finalists the Ukraine Otamans in the quarter-finals. The Fires seemed to have sensed that an opportunity lies in the Foro Polanco and have sent an extremely strong team to Mexico. They will be lead out by 2012 WSB Individual Champion Gairbek Germakhanov at Bantamweight (56kg), who is 11-2 across three seasons in the WSB.

Support will be on hand for him via Heavyweight Vladimir Cheles (4-1) and Soltan Migitinov at Middleweight. Both boxers make their first appearance of the season with Migitinov making a return to the WSB after a two season absence. Despite that he comes to the ring with six bouts of experience and his only losses were to WSB superstars Michel Tavares (Italia Thunder) and Sergiy Derevyanchenko (Astana Arlans). The Guerreros meanwhile will be relying on the experience of Juan Romero at Light Welterweight (64kg) who has a 9-2 record to lead home side and to stem the assault.

Astana Arlans Kazakhstan vs. Russian Boxing Team

The defending champions Astana Arlans, respectful of the threat posed by the enigmatic Russian team lined up some of their best boxers for the match this weekend. This season’s Heavyweight sensation Vasilii Levit is so far unbeaten across three bouts making him the number two ranked athlete in his weight category. He will face an interesting challenge this week in the guise of WSB debutant Aleksei Egorov. We don’t know much about the young Russian, but with the European boxing super-power talent rich, you never know what they may be bringing to the ring in Egorov; which is a comment we made in Week 1about Levit himself.

At Middleweight, the WSB’s most successful boxer of all time, the Ukrainian Sergiy Derevyanchenko will be once more gracing the canvas for the Arlans. He will be putting his 20-1 record on the line against Russia’s up-and-coming Petr Khamukov. The Russian will be making his first appearance of the season but he successfully won both his bouts last year. At just 22, is energy levels may pose a threat to the great Ukrainian. But being 28 years old, Derevyanchenko is just coming into his prime so we can expect this to be a difficult night in the office for the Team Russia boxer.

We may have a more tightly contested battle in the Light Flyweight category as 2-0 Mardan Berikbayev of Kazakhstan takes on Belik Galanov of Russia who is 1-0 in the WSB. The real question will be: can the Russians do enough to take a point from the Arlans this week or will they find themselves on an equal pegging with the tough Azerbaijan Baku Fires come Sunday?