With World Series of Boxing (WSB) having opened its doors to fighters from the pro ranks in its third season, many pundits expected them to dominate the league, but instead saw them struggle to get to grips with the speed and ferocious nature of the world’s foremost team boxing competition. After having asked several of these boxers about their opinions on the level of WSB, the conclusion was the same, the competition is underrated in the professional world and is much faster, tougher and more intense that anything else out there.
The first candidate we quizzed was the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games Bantamweight (56kg) silver medallist Daouda Sow from France. The 30-year-old southpaw, who turned professional after his exploits in the Chinese capital almost five years ago, boasted an impressive 12-0 record before joining WSB, linked up with the USA Knockouts with high hopes of taking the competition by storm. It did not really go according to plan with Sow losing his first two fights.
“I competed for three years in professional boxing where we were taught to slow down, to wait, to take it slowly for eight to ten rounds and look for that opportunity to deliver a decisive punch. In WSB, the tempo of each bout is so much faster. It takes time to adapt to this change of pace”, declared the experienced Frenchman.
His take on his maiden appearance was that he was not fully focused on his preparations with the birth of his first child coming within days it. On his second loss though, he made a glowing tribute to the class of his conqueror, John Joe Nevin of Ireland and the British Lionhearts, stating, “I lost against Nevin because he simply was too good on the night. He was inspired and I accept that defeat. He is a top performer and a boxer of the highest quality”.
He has given assurances, after re-assessing his training and with two fights under his belt that he is now ready to finally make his mark by claiming his first Lightweight (57-61kg) victory in WSB when he is set to take to the ring in week ten versus Dolce & Gabbana Italia Thunder. He said, “Next time, I will be well prepared and you will see the real Sow”.
We approached a further two Frenchmen about the transition from the pro ranks to WSB with Redouane Asloum of German Eagles, who lost to Aleksandr Riscan before being outclassed by explosive Bantamweight (50-54kg) Andrew Selby in week four, and Algeria Desert Hawks’ Matthieu Bauderlique, winner of one of his two matches.
Asloum, who has a 9-1-1 pro record, told us, “WSB is an excellent competition with fantastic boxers. It is a totally different beast to the professional game where there is less punching but instead you wait to land that clean hit. In WSB, the boxers are throwing a big volume of shots, it is fast and furious. That is what threw me at first, which is why I lost against my first opponent. Selby, he is just class, I should have done more research, but he is excellent”.
Bauderlique added, “The boxing style is so much faster, you need to start the fight strong and aggressive and finish strong and aggressive. The ‘away’ matches are especially hard. But WSB has made my level progress without a doubt and I am very happy with this competition and want to continue improving. My next fight is in Algeria and I feel much better prepared and have more experience now, I have analysed my previous fights and will box more intelligently”.
Dolce & Gabbana Italia Thunder man-mountain Matteo Modugno is as imposing as they get in the Heavyweight (91+kg) division in WSB with the 25-year-old standing at 198cm, 6ft6in. He however struggled in his first two outings. He was unfortunately cut on his debut and had to concede defeat whilst in his second contest, he found himself having to overturn a two round deficit to claim hard-fought victory. In week eight, he was more convincing in beating his Ukrainian opponent with really justifying his 12-0 pro record.
The 2011 Italian pro Champion stated, “I believe I was not in the right physically or psychologically for my first fight. Joyce is an excellent boxer with a great career ahead of him so I would have liked to see how I would have fared against him over five rounds. With Paul Koon I used my head and heart; I started badly but recovered in the final three rounds. It took me a while to get going. The quality of the boxers in WSB is extremely high so most fights are very even. It is tough”.
On the advice from his team, he added, “Russo helps me a lot, however as we have different styles, it is not always straight forward to follow his advice. The Thunder coaching staff is top class and have helped me make the transition to WSB. I am really enjoying the competition and it is great that pros like me can take part. It is a fantastic initiative”.
The consensus was the same from each boxer, WSB is fast, furious and above all the quality of fighters facing each other is top drawer, making it both unpredictable but very exciting.