Astana Arlans Kazkahstan’s strong performance in Ukraine last weekend saw them take three points in a fixture that could have a real influence on final Group positions come the end of the regular season. They are now brimming with confidence as they prepare to welcome USA Knockouts at their Daulet Sports Complex on Friday 23 November (20:30 local time), with local boxers Miras Bairkhanov and 2012 Individual Championships’ finalist Ruslan Myrsatayev set to lead the lines for the tough Kazak outfit.
Speedy 24-year-old southpaw Bagdad Alimbekov will be first in the ring, facing the American Joe Gregory Perez in the night’s Bantamweight (50-54kg) contest. Kazak Alimbekov, who has one victory from two fights in World Series of Boxing (WSB), should have the experience and ring-savvy to gain the upper hand over the Knockouts’ 22-year-old Perez.
AIBA World Boxing Championships Baku 2011 bronze medallist Anvar Yunusov, who made the switch this summer from Russia, will then go head-to head with Kazak southpaw Samat Bashenov at Lightweight (57-61kg). The 25-year-old Tajik won four out of his five bouts last season but failed to perform after being seeded at the London 2012 Olympic Games. He will want to put on a big performance on the night.
Middleweight (68-73kg) Bairkhanov has really matured as a boxer over the last year and is starting to flourish into a potent force. He will have the opportunity of showcasing his talent to the home fans when he battles American newcomer Clarence Joseph. The Kazak southpaw will however have to be on his guard against the competition newcomer, the USA Knockout 30-year-old is a seasoned professional who knows his way around the ring.
The fourth contest of the night will see the all-Croatian match-up between Astana Arlans Kazakhstan’s Hrvoje Sep, formerly of Paris United, and Marko Calic, who was with the Indian Fighters up until last season. 26-year-old Light Heavyweight (80-85kg) Sep has an eight win four losses record in WSB over two seasons but it was his form at the back end of the last campaign that caught the attention of his new team. Calic is much taller than his rival so his range could put his compatriot at a serious disadvantage. It will be a real clash of styles in this one.
Sep was confident about facing his adversary, declaring, “I know him well and I already have a game plan to unsettle him, I am looking forward to getting in the ring with him. He is taller so it will be a challenge but I know what to do”. On his team, he then added, “After the victory last weekend, we are keen to get another three points, the challenge for us is to finish top of the group. We have the talent within the squad to do just that”.
Ruslan Myrsatayev, the 27-year-old Kazak Heavyweight (91+kg), will be tasked, in the final contest of the night, with bringing down USA Knockouts’ Hungarian orthodox fighter Istvan Bernath, who was with the Astana Arlans Kazkahstan the previous two seasons. This will be an intriguing bout between two hard-hitting orthodox boxers who know each other’s styles very well after having trained side-by-side for so long.
‘We know each other well. I used to consider him my friend by Friday that is all forgotten once we are in the ring together. All that will matter is the victory”, said Myrsatayev, before adding, “Our team is fantastic this season, we have the experience and the boxers to go all the way this season”.
It will be tough to call, however with home advantage, Astana Arlans Kazkahstan are expected to make their experience count.