Ukraine Otamans vs. Azerbaijan Baku Fires to take place in the impressive 7000-seater Palace of Sports in Kyiv this Friday 22 March (20:00 local time) will be the first and probably the most anticipated World Series of Boxing (WSB) quarter-finals. No doubt that the venue will be packed for a match that brings together the 2011 and 2012 Best AIBA Elite Men Boxer – Olympic Champion, Ukrainian national idol Oleksandr Usyk and World Champion Magomedrasul Medzhidov.
National Youth Champion Mykola Butsenko has so far only stepped into the ring once for the Otamans, but his maiden appearance in WSB brought him a victory. Easily recognisable with his quick jabs and world class footwork, Butsenko will this time around have to face a serious rival in the shape of Bantamweight (50-54kg) Individual ChampionGairbek Germakhanov and his close to perfection WSB record (10-1). The orthodox Azeri is one of the strongest fighters in his category and his physical skills are sufficient to beat anyone.
London 2012 silver medallist Denys Berinchyk has also appeared only once during the season, but that was enough for him to impress the entire Lightweight (57-61kg) division. Only 170cm tall – which is considered a disadvantage for his weight -, Berinchyk is using a very aggressive style to get as close as possible from his opponents. His opponent in this match will be Uzbekistan’s Beijing Olympian Hurshid Tojibaev, a strong member of the Azeri Franchise. The southpaw is eight centimetres taller than the Ukrainian therefore he might make the most of his longer arms and keep Berinchyk as distant as possible.
Otamans Middleweight (68-73kg) Dmytro Mytrofanov has not only demonstrated all his power in Week 1 with a short defeat against WSB star Sergiy Derevyanchenko, but also when he knocked-down London 2012 silver medallist Fred Evans in the last match of the Regular Season. His record so far shows a good 3-1, but he will now have to face an impressive Khaybula Musalov (8-2). Between the Azeri who’s always trying to control his bouts from the first seconds, and Mytrofanov who will be lifted by his home crowd, the contest could become one of the best to date.
The strong Ukrainian puncher Oleksandr Gvozdyk, who brought a bronze medal from London last summer, is still unbeaten in his WSB career (6-0). But he will probably have to put a lot of efforts in his fight this Friday when he faces Moldovan southpaw Vladimir Cheles. Cheles has also never lost so far in WSB and he is considered one of the best Light Heavyweights (80-85kg). That said, the Moldovan is only 179cm tall – Gvozdyk 190cm – and will therefore need to find ways to reduce this physical disadvantage.
Boxing fans will all be looking at the Heavyweight (91+kg) bout when the World and Olympic Champion, Ukrainian superstar Usyk will be locking horns with Super Heavyweight World Championand London 2012 bronze medallist Medzhidov. Best AIBA Elite Man Boxer in 2012, the extravagant Usyk will find in front of him the Best AIBA Elite Man Boxer of 2011. Despite a late arrival in the boxing world, Medzhidov has become since then a remarkable boxer, able to show more than any other athlete in his weight category. His WSB record speaks for himself: eight wins (including one KO and one TKO) for one loss. Bringing this scintillating evening to an end, this bout is sure to be a clash of the titans.