It was a fantastic show at the packed Acco International Exhibition Center in Kiev as the Ukraine Otamans powered past British Lionhearts at home to move provisionally up to third in Group B. Olympic Champions Vasyl Lomachenko and Oleksandr Usyk entertained the crowds with two sumptuous displays as Olexandr Stretskyy and Oleksandr Gvozdyk also recorded wins to make it a comprehensive victory on the night.
Opening up proceedings was diminutive Ukrainian Ivan Ilnytskyy against exciting British talent Sean McGoldrick. It was the Lionhearts’ 21-year-old who began on the front foot, using his jab well to apply the pressure on Ilnytskyy in the Bantamweight (50-54kg) contest. With his slight height and reach advantage, the accomplished McGoldrick was able to dominate and although he let his guard down in the latter stages and was caught a couple of times, he went on to record a split decision win.
Double Olympic Champion and boxing superstar Lomachenko then made his big entrance to the WSB ring. The Lightweight (57-61kg) southpaw faced 24-year-old Samuel Maxwell and took his time to get a into his rhythm but it was worth waiting for as he came alive in the fourth, unloading some punishing body shots, with a great hook followed by a straight left seeing Maxwell having to take a standing eight count in that round. Lomachenko from then on was on a different level, showing his class on his way to a thunderous victory. Maxwell should take heart however from the performance, standing tall against the best pound for pound boxer in Open boxing.
It began tentatively between 26-year-old Ukrainian southpaw Stretskyy and flamboyant Scot Aston Brown. These two solid Middleweights (68-73kg) were evenly matched, both looking to use the jab before throwing the one-two combinations. Stretskyy though enjoyed more success and showed more endeavour, landing cleaner punches throughout, his compact style working well. 21-year-old Brown did show flashes of what he can do but was inconsistent and in the end it was a deserved victory for the home boxer.
Unbeaten Gvozdyk was sublime in the first round against the Lionhearts’ experienced Swede Babacar Kamara of their Light Heavyweight (80-85kg) bout, with the classy 25-year-old Ukrainian sending his opponent crashing to the canvas with a huge left hook. After that, the savvy Kamara worked hard to get himself back into the contest, using his height to repeatedly thwart the attacks of the home boxer. Gvozdyk re-assessed to come up with the goods that ensured the overall victory for his team.
Usyk entertained the crowd with his sensational boxing and true showmanship in the night’s final contest. Fast and powerful, the crowd were chanting the Ukrainian’s name midway through the third following a flurry of thunderous punches that rocked the Lionhearts’ undefeated Tongan Uaine Fa. Grimacing and playing to the fans, Usyk was connecting with some hard shots but the tall Tongan was still managing to land some punches of his own to ensure it was an entertaining contest. These two Heavyweight (91+kg) colossi put on one hell of a battle but 25-year-old southpaw Usyk was just too good, proving he is one of the very best at this level with a classy victory
Great Britain next host the USA Knockouts on Thursday 17 January at the legendary York Hall whilst Ukraine travel to Almaty to face Astana Arlans Kazakhstan the day after.