It promises to be a night to remember at London’s York Hall this Friday 1 March (20:00 local time) when the British Lionhearts battle a full-strength Ukraine Otamans in their last Group B match before the World Series of Boxing (WSB) quarter-finals next month. With the visitors bringing with them Olympic Champions Vasyl Lomachenko and Oleksandr Usyk, the Lionhearts will be relying on the electric Andrew Selby, European Champion Joe Ward and top ranked Heavyweight (91+kg) Joseph Joyce to come up with the goods which would guarantee them third place in the table.
The action will get underway with the mouth-watering Middleweight (68-73kg) showdown between undefeated 2012 Olympic silver medallistFred Evans and hard-hitting Ukrainian Dmytro Mytrofanov. This will be a big test of the Welsh southpaw’s credentials with Mytrafanov having proved that he is tailor made for the pro format of WSB. The 22-year-old Evans has yet to really convince his critics at this level, with two of his victories this season having coming by split decision, however a win against the quality Otamans orthodox fighter would go a long way to proving his doubters wrong.
Ukrainian superstar and two-time Olympic gold medallist Lomachenkowill then make his way into the ring to face the Lionhearts’ 24-year-oldSam Maxwell. The two have already come face to face this season, on Lomachenko’s debut in week five, when the Ukrainian southpaw was completely dominant, although Maxwell showed true grit to stay the distance against the best pound for pound boxer in the Olympic ranks. The Brit will have to be even more stubborn in his resistance this time around with Lomachenko having already stated that he wants to show the fans in London what he can do.
Explosive Welshman Selby will then get the opportunity of reclaiming top spot in the individual Bantamweight (50-54kg) rankings when he locks horns with the diminutive Ivan Ilnytskyy. The 24-year-old speed-merchant has really lit up the competition this season with four wins from four, including the epic against Michael Conlan in week six. He will look to once again wow the crowds at York Hall when he battles an opponent that his teammate Sean McGoldrick expertly defeated the last time the two teams met.
At Light Heavyweight (80-85kg), classy Irishman Ward will be pitted against 20-year-old Denys Solonenko. The Lionhearts teenager underperformed in his last appearance but fresh from his triumph at the Irish nationals, he will be brimming with confidence coming into this fight. Power-puncher Solonenko has yet to taste victory this season but has showed that he can dangerous if allowed on the inside. Ward will have to box at distance, but with his quick hands and long reach, he should comfortably record his fourth victory of the campaign.
The bout of the night should bring the house down, with impressive Londoner Joyce set to battle AIBA World Champion and boxing powerhouse Usyk. All the ingredients are there for an absolute classic. Joyce has been in devastating form this season, culminating in a sensational win versus last season’s top dog Filip Hrgovic. He will be in the fight of his life when he tests himself against the colossal Ukrainian southpaw. Usyk needs no introduction after a string of quality performances at the London Games saw him add the Olympic gold medal to his already swollen trophy cabinet.