Italia flex their muscle to beat USA (5-0)


The last match of this exciting World Series of Boxing (WSB) weekend saw Dolce & Gabbana Italia Thunder host USA Knockouts at a packed Mediolanum Forum in Group B. A sensational line-up saw the home team triumph in style with wins from Italian duo Vincenzo Picardi and Matteo Modugno, Michel Tavares, Imre Szello and the Philippines’ Charly Suarez.

Italia’s 2008 Olympic Games bronze medallist Picardi faced American Joe Gregory Perez in the night’s opening contest at Bantamweight (50-54kg) and the 29-year-old Italian had to work hard against his taller opponent. Precise with his punches in the first two rounds, Picardi was managing to pick his rival on the counter with some good shots, the left hook in particular connecting sweetly to the head and body in the second. After that, the experience of the fleet-footed Italian told as he began to find his rhythm to dominate the exchanges. In the end, Picardi won comfortably, taking each round on each of the judges’ scorecards.

The Lightweight (57-61kg) showdown between Italia’s charismatic Suarez and the Knockouts’25-year-old Tajik southpaw Anvar Yunusov had the Mediolanum Forum rocking with a large number of Filipino fans in the stands there to lend support to their compatriot. It was a pulsating affair between two top quality fighters. Suarez had to work extremely hard after trailing going into the fourth but found his range when it mattered most, winning one of the most closely fought contests in the history of WSB, with two judges scoring the bout a draw.

Classy 23-year-old French southpaw Tavares then made his way into the ring for the Thunder as he locked horns with American Clarence Joseph in the third contest of the night. These two Middleweights (67-73kg) were very evenly matched in the first two rounds but the speed and better selection of shots from Tavares saw him begin to exert his authority. From then on, it was a master class by the Frenchman, who mixed it up well and demonstrated his full repertoire of shots on his way to a well-taken victory.

It was a riveting contest at Light Heavyweight (80-85kg) between the clever and technically gifted 29-year-old Hungarian Szello and the Knockouts’ battle-hardened Bosnian Dzemal Bosnjak. The two stood toe-to-toe for most of the five rounds and there was nothing to separate them after round rounds of quality boxing. This one really lived up to its billing with the two having given their all until then. Szello found that extra reserve to dominate the final round to extend his WSB record to 8-3 with this latest win.

Bringing the show to a close, Italian pro boxer and man-mountain Modugno, replacing the injured Clemente Russo, battled the USA’s powerful Heavyweight (91+kg) Paul Koon III. The 26-year-old American was getting quite some success with the overheads, finding his target on several occasions to claim the first two rounds. Although giving away height and reach, Koon was seemingly really enjoying being in the ring, moving with swagger and showboating. But he paid the price for his overconfidence as Modugno mounted a stunning comeback to claim his maiden WSB victory.

USA will now face the British Lionhearts at historic York Hall in London on Thursday 16 January whilst two days later, Italia travel to Germany to face the Eagles at the EWS Arena.