The Kazakhstan based Astana Arlans reached the World Series of Boxing (WSB) Team Finals after defeating the Mexican Guerreros in the semi-finals. The final showdown will be held on May 10th and 11th at the Saryarka Verlodrome of Astana. Meanwhile, their opponents the Ukraine Otamans knocked last year’s champions, the Dolce & Gabbana Italia Thunder, out of the tournament. Incidentally, Italia Thunder was coached last year by none other than the famous Ukrainian expert Sergei Korchynsky, who is now the head coach of the Arlans. In a peculiar twist of fate, the super-coach is now planning the downfall of his own compatriots such as Olympic champions Vasyl Lomachenko and Oleksandr Usyk.
How did you feel going into the Semi-finals?
Despite the fact that we comfortably beat the Mexicans, I was very worried about the home performance. Boxing here is serious business so there is some pressure. I was also little worried about the preparation of our fighters. They had just finished a very hard micro-cycle. I was afraid that they did not have time to recover properly. However, all my fears were unfounded: the boys demonstrated quality boxing and, most importantly, a good tactical approach. We dissected the game of every single Mexican right down to the bones. And I am pleased that the guys understood what I wanted them to do.
With the final being against Ukraine, the Arlans have come full circle this season…
Yes, it was a bit like a detective story; we started the season with the Otamans and finished it with them too.
How can Ukraine be defeated with all its World and Olympic champions?
I have not seen the second semi-final, against the Italians. We must watch it to gather information, and analyze everything. There are many factors that can be used in the match.
Have you already decided who will fight in the finals?
Let’s not put the cart before the horse. We are in the final few days. Now we have to see who is in what condition and who has minimal damage. We have had some unfortunate injuries in training. I have three members of staff, and together we’ll look at the physical state of the fighters. So we have a lot of work ahead, and time is short.
Could it all come down to which team has the most tactical coach? Ukraine has a very strong, almost invincible first pick…
You see, you are already perfectly versed in the strategy difficulties for the upcoming fights. This is the way it is with this competition. You know all the opponent’s boxers, but you don’t know who will box against whom. This causes an additional interest of fans – and a massive headache for the coaches and athletes. I’m not willing to go into details about it. Of course, we will try to outplay and outwit each other.
Will you stay in the Kazakh team for next season?
It’s out of my hands. I have a contract for one season, so it’s for the team to decide.
And what is your personal desire?
I have to talk about it with the team. There are pluses in my current job, but there are also disadvantages. The latter are associated with the family. My long absence creates problems.
Did you expect that the Otamans – who are debutants in WSB, and who performed modestly speaking at the group stage, would be in the finals?
Basically, I foresaw this development. Because I knew that they had a reserve team that is based on the Ukrainian national team. On April 31st the European Boxing Championship kicks off. Members of their first team have been entered. And yet they have a second or third tier of boxers that can easily integrate and strengthen the Otamans. Unfortunately we have no such resources. So there may be some surprises in the finals.
As a native Ukrainian and former Italia Thunder coach who did you want to see get through to the finals?
I didn’t care who won: I wanted both of them and neither of them! (laughs). So I was sleeping when they fought in the semi-finals.