With one of the finest boxing venues set to host the mouth-watering showdown between British Lionhearts and USA Knockouts, World Series of Boxing (WSB) fans will be treated to a real pugilistic feast when the two teams meet on Thursday 17 January (20:00 local time). With a long-standing sporting rivalry, expect this encounter to be up there with some of the best the competition has to offer. The electric Bantamweight (50-54kg) contest between Andrew Selby and Michael Conlan as well as the battle of the 2008 and 2012 Olympic Lightweight (60kg) silver medallists are sure to capture the imagination of spectators worldwide.
Starting the evening’s proceedings, Estonian bull Kaupo Arro will make his debut for the Lionhearts versus the USA’s 23-year-old southpaw Jeffrey Camp at Middleweight (68-73kg). The American is unhappy with his last outing so will be looking for a big performance on the night whilst the stocky Arro was part of several AIBA ‘Road to Dream’ training camps in recent years and will see this opportunity as his big chance to impress.
The Lightweight (57-61kg) contest will see the Lionhearts’ current Olympic silver medallist battle his predecessor as John Joe Nevin is pitted against Frenchman Daouda Sow. Both have already suffered defeats this season so both will be gunning for victory here. It promises to be an electric fight between two of the division’s toughest customers.
Great Britain’s 2011 AIBA World Championships silver medallist Selby will then be locking horns with the Knockouts’ 2012 Olympic bronze medal winner Conlan. The two met at the quarter-final stages of the World Championships in Baku two years ago with Selby edging it by one point. However the 21-year-old fledgling Irish star will be high on confidence for his maiden WSB appearance after his exploits at the London Games. This one will see two world class fighters going head-to-head in one of the most highly anticipated bouts of the weekend.
Conlan told WSB, “Selby is a top class boxer; he has been very impressive in the competition so far. We know each other very well and have fought each other before; he has incredible speed and fitness. I am feeling great at the moment and know I can win on Thursday. I really enjoy the professional style of WSB, it suits my style better. I also really enjoy not wearing the headgear and vest”.
Reigning European Champion and now unbeaten in his two WSB appearances, the classy Joe Ward will once again be gracing the ring when he faces the Knockouts’ Croatian Light Heavyweight (80-85kg) Marko Calic in the penultimate fight of the night. Both an AIBA Junior and Youth World Champion, Ward has quickly put behind him the disappointments of 2012 to re-affirm his status as one of the biggest talents in world boxing today. The odds are stacked in favour of the Irishman here with Calic yet to win in the competition.
Ward was keen to give his thoughts on the competition, declaring, “I am thoroughly enjoying WSB and I really like the five round format. I feel it suits my style as you do not have to rush to a fast start and it gives me time to establish my authority on the bout”. On team spirit, he added “I enjoy boxing as part of a top level team in an exciting and competitive league. There is a bit of added pressure and excitement knowing that you are boxing not only for yourself, but also for the team. As a team we hope to go all the way this year. The support has been really good so far and improving with every match. York Hall is an iconic boxing venue and I look forward to boxing there”.
Bringing the show to a close, tall and powerful British Heavyweight (91+kg) Joseph Joyce will be up against Avery Gibson. 27-year-old orthodox Joyce is undefeated in his two fights this campaign but has yet to really convince, so he will view this match-up as the chance to really impose himself. The American lost to Joyce’s teammate Uaine Fa is his only WSB appearance but his experience of the pro ranks should make for a very interesting contest here.
With Italia away to Germany on Friday, the British Lionhearts will be going all-out for victory against the team rock bottom of the table in order to reclaim second spot in Group B.