Any hopes of qualifying for the quarter-final stages from Group B have all but evaporated for the USA Knockouts. However with pride at stake, the American team is sure to be going all-out for victory against the visiting German Eagles at the Eldorado Hotel and Casino in Reno this Saturday 9 February (19:00 local time). Shawn Simpson, Eric Fowler, Clarence Joseph and Paul Koon III will be carrying the hopes of their nation as World Series of Boxing (WSB) debuts in Nevada.
Promising teenager Simpson will be getting the action underway when he faces in-form Bantamweight (50-54kg) Veaceslav Gojan. The two met in week three with the Eagles’ explosive Moldovan dominating that fight, and the 29-year-old 2008 Olympic Games bronze medallist will be further buoyed by his last performance when he sent Jahyn Vittorio Parrinello to the canvas twice within the first round. Simpson will be counting on the fervent backing of the crowd and a big performance to overcome the odds in this one.
At Lightweight (57-61kg), it will be Fowler versus German 20-year-oldKastriot Sopa in another repeat of one of the fights of week three. The orthodox American has competed in WSB for three seasons now and after impressing in his first campaign, has since lost his way with six defeats on the trot. After losing to Sopa earlier this season, he will know what to expect and must raise his game. The fledgling Eagles star has shown his quality in his previous two outings and has all the attributes to overpower his smaller opponent.
With both going for their first win of the season, it will be intriguing to see who, between the Knockout’s 30-year-old Joseph and Germany’s Stefan Härtel, comes out on top in the Middleweight (68-73kg) clash. The American was given a tough introduction to life in WSB by classy Frenchman Michel Tavares but after that baptism of fire, will look to stamp his authority on a bout that he knows he has the attributes to dominate. The German London Olympian will have a big height advantage which he will try to capitalise on.
Fan favourite Kennedy Katende will then lock horns with undefeated 24-year-old German Kevin Künzel at Light Heavyweight (80-85kg). This is by far the bout of the night with the Knockouts’ Swedish southpaw one of the competition’s great entertainers. Künzel boasts an impressive 5-0 WSB record and will be doing his upmost to extend his winning streak. Both have some devastating punches in their arsenal so it promises to be a riveting contest.
After letting a two round lead slip and suffering defeat in his last outing for the USA, Koon will be desperate to put things right when he battles the Eagles’Philip Grüner from Germany. The 26-year-old American Heavyweight (91+kg) is a muscular beast who packs a lot of power in his punches and enjoys dictating the pace of his fights. He will be relishing the prospect of facing Grüner who is durable but not very mobile.
The USA will be keen to lift the crowds in Reno with victory whilst Germany needs maximum points in order to stay in touch with play-off places.