There was simply no stopping Azerbaijan Baku Fires as they recorded their seventh win of the season and consolidated their position at the top of Group A with a imposing victory over Algeria Desert Hawks in their World Series of Boxing (WSB) encounter. Magomed Kurbanov, Albert Selimov, Mahamed Nurudzinau and Vladimir Cheles were the chief instigators in another sensational display by one of the favourites for the WSB Team crown this season.
There were a lot of punches thrown in the opening round of the night’s first contest between Azerbaijan’s 22-year-old Russian Bantamweight (50-54kg) Kurbanov and French southpaw Vincent Legrand as the action got underway in spectacular style. Kurbanov’s unrelenting style often had his opponent pinned to the ropes as he unleashed a string of deft combinations to also claim rounds two and three as the former Youth World Champion dominated the exchanges. The 21-year-old Frenchman, who has an impressive unbeaten 11-0 record in the pro ranks, played his part in a riveting fight but could not get to grips with the slippery Kurbanov. It was exhibition stuff from the Russian in the closing stages as he sealed his second win of the season to extend his unbeaten WSB record to 5-0.
The Fires’ 2007 AIBA World Champion and two-time European Champion Selimov cemented his position at the top of the Lightweight (57-61kg) individual rankings after the 26-year-old Russian southpaw overcame the stern challenge of London Olympian Mohamed Amine Ouadahi. Selimov’s selection of shots were excellent as he buzzed around his rival, throwing some precise punches throughout the five rounds. The Algerian boxer battled valiantly but Selimov was too fast, too accurate and simply too good as he notched up his fourth win of the season to put Azerbiajan 2-0 up on the night. The impressive Russian has yet to lose a round in his debut WSB campaign.
Experienced Belarusian Middleweight (68-73kg) Nurudzinau then took on Algeria’s 26-year-old 2011 African Championships gold medallist Abdelmalek Rahou. It was as predicted a very tight affair between two intelligent operators but Nurudzinau’s tactics were spot on as he expertly dealt with the threat posed by a taller opponent with some classy penetrating uppercuts and some quality counterpunching. The Fires orthodox fighter moved well, threw some solid combinations and showcased his quality footwork as he dominated each and every round to ensure the overall victory for Azerbaijan Baku Fires.
There was great anticipation around the Light Heavyweight (80-85kg) contest between Algeria’s 23-year-old French southpaw Matthieu Bauderlique and Azerbaijan’s tall Moldovan Cheles and it began in spectacular style as Cheles sent his rival crashing to the canvas towards the end of the first round with a bit left hook. Cheles’s confidence was sky-high after that as he launched wave after wave of attacks to stamp his authority on proceedings to claim round two. It was a powerful display by the 24-year-old Moldovan but Bauderlique came back to win the third round with some classic straight one-two combination scoring vital points. The fourth saw both go toe-to-toe in the centre of the ring, which played into Cheles’ hands as he dominated the exchanges against the young Frenchman on his way to another win.
With the Heavyweight (+91kg) contest declared a walk-over in favour of Azerbaijan Baku Fires following the late withdrawal of Algeria’s Chouaib Bouloudinats, the host were left celebrating another resounding victory that cemented their position at the top of Group A.
Azerbaijan host Russia at the Olympic Sports Center ‘Serhedchi’ next Saturday 9 February with a win guaranteeing them top spot in the Group whilst Algeria welcome Mexico Guerreros at the Salle Hocine-Chaalane the day before.