Absolutely irresistible in front of 7,000 people at the Palace of Sports in Kyiv, the Otamans have probably secured a decisive advantage against Azerbaijan Baku Fires in the first leg of this World Series of Boxing (WSB) quarter-final. Approaching the return leg next Saturday with a lot of confidence and their team’ captain Vasyl Lomachenko, Ukrainians are on the best possible way to the Final Four.
The evening started perfectly for the host Franchise with a shock at Bantamweight (50-54kg). Despite the huge experience of Individual Champion Gairbek Germakhanov, the offensive style of UkraineMykola Butsenko made the difference in a very enjoyable fight. Running after the score the entire five rounds, the Azeri did not escape from a second loss in his WSB career, the first one this season.
Entertaining the crowds as much as he impresses his opponent, Denys Berinchyk however had a pretty tough second WSB bout againstHurshid Tojibaev at Lightweight (57-61kg). Clearly dominated in the first round, the London 2012 silver medallist seemed to find a better rhythm in the following minutes and imposed his aggressive style all the way to the final gong. His face was expressing relief when he was declared the winner.
Competing at Middleweight (68-73kg), facing Azeri star Khaybula Musalov, Otamans’ revelation Dmytro Mytrofanov has tonight confirmed that he is one of the best boxers in the league. Following three tactical rounds, with both fighters landing very few punches, the last six minutes offered the public an impressive and tireless battle. More precise and efficient than his opponent, Mytrofanov finally saw his arm raised at the end of the bout, offering the overall victory to his team.
Having in mind the complicated return leg next week in Baku, Light Heavyweight (80-85kg) Oleksandr Gvozdyk then stepped into the ring to compete against unbeaten Moldovan Vladimir Cheles. In the fifth round of what was so far the closest bout of the night, the Ukrainian London 2012 bronze medallist managed to land a powerful left hook that sent Cheles to the canvas and offered a fourth point to the host Franchise.
The most anticipated Heavyweight (91+kg) battle could now set the 7,000-seater venue on fire. Facing each other for the very first time in their career, World and Olympic Champion Oleksandr Usyk and World Champion and Olympic bronze medallist Magomedrasul Medzhidov started impressively. As tall as his Azeri rival, but much more mobile and quicker, Usyk managed to control the fight all the way, winning each and every round in the opinion of the three judges. This way he was confirming he is surely the best WSB Heavyweight at this stage.
With the obligation to have a perfect night, Azerbaijan Baku Fires will now host the return leg on Saturday 30 March at the Olympic Sports Center “Serhedchi” in Baku. In case of a draw after ten bouts on aggregate, the tiebreaker of this quarter-final will be a Middleweight bout.