Week 4 Group B: The Clash of the Titans
Defending Champions Astana Arlans Kazakhstan take on title rivals the Cuba Domadores in the most highly anticipated match of the year so far in Season IV of the World Series of Boxing (WSB).
The Cubans created quite a stir when they joined the World Series of Boxing. Now, three wins and 15 unbeaten bouts later, the question is can anyone stop the Cuban locomotive? Kazakhstan, currently the leading boxing nation in the world, will be hoping to do just that.
Elsewhere we have a crunch match at the bottom of the table as the Mexico Guerreros and Hussars Poland are both feeling the pressure to get their seasons underway. Meanwhile, the WSB bad boys, the Azerbaijan Baku Fires, have a key match away to the dangerous Russian team.
Astana Arlans Kazakhstan vs. Cuba Domadores
Given the importance of the match it is interesting that the tactical wizard that is Sergiy Korchynsky, the Arlans’ Head Coach, has decided to start two boxers with no previous WSB experience: Lightweight (60kg) Zhandos Momunov and Welterweight (69kg) Bakhytzan Kozhabekov. The Arlans will however also be fielding two of their remaining “Legionnaires”, the amazing group of international fighters that helped them win Season III, in the guise of Light Heavyweight (81kg) Hrvoje Sep (13-5) and Super Heavyweight (91+kg) Filip Hrgovic (16-3).
With the Kazakhstan national team’s rise to dominance on the world stage, the need for international athletes in the Arlans team has been reduced this year. It speaks volumes therefore that these two Croatians have kept their places in the squad. Sep will be stepping out against Julio Cesar La Cruz, the 2011 World Champion, whilst Hrgovic takes on 2009 world bronze medallist Jose Larduet, who makes his first appearance in the WSB.
Elsewhere Arisnoidys Despaigne, the current world silver medallist, will be back in action at Welterweight for the Domadores, making Korchynsky’s decision to start a debutant boxer against him an intriguing one. Another interesting matchup will be the Flyweight bout between the up and coming Kazakh boxer Miras Zhakupov and Cuban Gerardo Cervantes. Zhakupov comes into the bout with a 4-1 record and has wins over the likes of Ukraine Otamans star Mykola Butsenko to brag of. Cervantes however may well be in another league again to anyone he has boxed before, so this will be an intriguing bout. The real question is can the Cubans carry their unbeaten run through the most difficult away fixture in the WSB? Or will the Champions derail the Cuban party wagon?
Russian Boxing Team vs. Azerbaijan Baku Fires
The Fires are, somewhat surprisingly, handing debuts to three boxers in this match including Welterweight Yauheni Ramashkevich and Belarussian Mikhail Dauhaliavets at Light Heavyweight. The toughest start of all is handed to Rauf Agayev who lands the Russian World Champion Misha Aloian at Flyweight. Aloian is currently unbeaten in the WSB, though he has been used sparingly and has only amassed a 2-0 record over the last two seasons so far. Nonetheless the Russian is perhaps the hardest hitting Flyweight in the world at the moment and quite a formidable prospect for anyone to face, let alone a man making his debut. The Fires have brought experience however in the form of Super Heavyweight Haji Murtuzaliyev who has a 5-4 record, but who was unbeaten last season where he won two of his three bouts by TKO. At 25 years old he may now be coming into his own. He will be taking on Russian prospect Sergey Kuzmin who looked good in his WSB debut, but was unlucky to draw the Astana Arlans veteran Filip Hrgovic. Kuzmin will be hoping that this bout represents a fairer crack of the whip for him.
Elsewhere keep an eye out for Russian debutant Alexander Besputin who was very impressive at the recent AIBA World Boxing Championships, Almaty 2013 where he made it to the quarter finals.
Mexico Guerreros vs Hussars Poland
It has been a bad start to the season for both of these two teams. The Hussars were quarterfinalists last year and the Guerreros reached the semi-finals where they were finally unpicked by the Champions, Astana Arlans Kazakhstan. Yet this year in the “Group of Death” they have only managed to win one bout between them. That says more about the quality of the opposition than it does about the ability of these teams however, and one of them will now get the chance to capitalise on the other’s misfortune.
The Mexicans are taking the match extremely seriously and are unleashing what looks to be as close to a perfect first team as we have seen them select so far, with their captain, WSB boxer of the year 2013, Elias Emigdio leading the team out at Flyweight. A three season veteran with a 14-3 record, the Guerreros desperately need Emigdio to give them first blood on Saturday night over Polish debutant Mariusz Koch. Koch is just 19 years old, yet often what fighters lack in experience at that age they make up for in self-belief and energy, a combination which can make them difficult adversaries at times.
Lindolfo Delgado is a new Guerreros fighter who looked fairly handy at the recent World Boxing Championships, and he will need to stay sharp against Dawid Michelus at Lightweight. The Pole comes in with a 2-2 record, but that includes a win over World silver medallist Mohamed Flissi of the Desert Hawks, making him extremely dangerous when on form. Risky though it is to say in advance, he represents Poland’s best chance of a win, and if he were to achieve one, it could come early enough in the bout to have a psychological impact on the rest of his team. But we can expect Mexico to battle back hard through Marvin Cabrera at Welterweight. He was ranked number one last year in the old Middleweight category and was unbeaten through the whole season to amass a 6-1 record. His team have missed him so far this year, and his return could not be better timed.
Week 4 Group A: Giants Collide
With Group A beginning to take shape in this year’s World Series of Boxing (WSB), the top two teams are, as expected, Season III runners-up the Ukraine Otamans and Season II winners the Dolce & Gabbana Italia Thunder. But who will top the table following this weekend’s clash between the group’s big boys?
As the best two teams in this half of the draw, this is an important match, which could have serious implications on the WSB pecking order going forward. With Group B containing so many top teams, the difference between taking first and second place in Group A could be significant in terms of drawing a marginally preferable opponent the first round of the Playoffs. It is likely that the winner of Group A will have a far easier route through to the semi-finals compared to the runner up, making this an important match indeed.
Ukraine Otamans vs. Dolce & Gabbana Italia Thunder
Given the importance of the event it is no wonder that both teams have selected star-studded line-ups. Patrick Barnes of Ireland for instance makes his long-awaited WSB debut at Light Flyweight (46-49kg). The Italia Thunder new boy is a double Olympic bronze medallist and was the 2010 European Champion. He will be taking on the Otamans’ only debutant of the night in Ovanes Danielian of Armenia, which should be a tough bout for the latter on paper. The Thunder meanwhile are also sending three of their big guns out in the guise of Branimir Stankovic from Serbia, Michel Tavares of France and the team’s talismanic captain, World Champion Clemente Russo at Heavyweight (91kg). Light Welterweight (64kg) Stankovic is a two season veteran with a record of 7-2 and has wins over the likes of John Joe Nevin on his CV. He takes on Vyacheslav Kyslytsyn who only has a record of 2-1 in the WSB, but that includes a win over talented Irishman Eric Donovan in last year’s Finals and his only loss came to world bronze medallist Domenico Valentino. This will be an interesting match to study the Otamans’ star’s potential going forward.
A more serious clash however will be the bout between the Otamans’ veteran Dmytro Mytrofanov who has a record of 8-2 and has only ever lost to two boxers: the WSB’s most successful ever fighter Sergiy Derevyanchenko of the Astana Arlans and none other than his opponent for this weekend’s bout: Michel Tavares. Mytrofanov took revenge for the loss against Tavares last season, so the record between them currently stands at 1:1, making this bout a particularly interesting contest. Finally of course we will get to take a look at current World Boxing Champion Clemente Russo. With a record of 17-1 he has one of the best records in the WSB and will be taking on Siarhei Karneyeu of Belorussia. Karneyeu returns to the WSB with a 3-0 record after missing last season. While Russo will be the favourite in the bout, nonetheless Karneyeu, who was a 2011 world bronze medallist, has enough class to potentially cause an upset.
Argentina Condors vs. Algeria Desert Hawks
The Desert Hawks have performed well so far this season and are currently defending a spot in the Playoffs from the teams that are following them. The Argentinians meanwhile have yet to win a bout. However they will feel that this home draw against Algeria will be a winnable affair and have deployed some of their key fighters in response to that opportunity. The most exciting of these will be Heavyweight world bronze medallist Yamil Peralta, who was last season’s surprise Light Heavyweight number one ranked WSB boxer. Boasting a 6-0 record, including a win over Astana Arlans Kazakhstan veteran Hrvoje Sep, Peralta will nonetheless have his work cut out for him with talented Desert Hawk Chouaib Bouloudinats in the opposite corner. The Desert Hawk has an excellent record himself with the ten wins and four losses he has amassed across three seasons while boxing for three different teams, (Pohang Poseidons, Astana Arlans and Algeria Desert Hawks). That should be the bout of the match on paper, and with the others potentially very close affairs, it could be an important one.
Elsewhere Abdekader Chadi at Light Welterweight will be one to watch for the Desert Hawks. He takes on Alberto Palmetta who has had a difficult start to his WSB career. Losing to Jose Alday Jr of the USA Knockouts in his first bout; and with the experienced Chadi this weekend, things won’t get any easier for the Argentinian. Condors’ Bantamweight (56kg) Alberto Melian (4-1) will also need to take advantage of his experience against debutant Abdelhalim Ouradi to help his team get some points on the board. It could be a close one.