WSB Boxers in Gold rush at World Championships.

Boxers from the World Series of Boxing (WSB) collectively had an outstanding few weeks “at the office” at the AIBA World Boxing Championships Almaty 2013. Collectively the WSB athletes took medals home in each of the ten weight categories.

Six out of the ten gold medallists and twenty out of the 40 medallists were WSB athletes, which shows the high quality of boxing that is now prevalent in the league.

Let’s take a look at who the most successful WSB boxers were:

Light Flyweight (49kg)
Mohamed Flissi of the Algeria Desert Hawks impressed at this year’s World Championships. Flissi stood out early on in the tournament as a boxer to watch; his agility and footwork made him an exciting prospect. Clearly difficult to hit when he wanted to be, his willingness to get stuck in and fight when necessary made him stand out compared to his peers. Following a tough final against local favourite Birzhan Zhakypov of Kazakhstan, Flissi came home with a well-deserved silver medal for Algeria. With the new weight categories and his current form, Flissi could be one of the most exciting boxers for Algeria this season.

Also at Light Flyweight was Cuban Yosbany Veitia Soto, who made his debut for the Cuba Domadores this summer in the team’s exhibition match against the Mexico Guerreros. Soto boxed well and took a bronze medal home just in time for the start of the new season. The Domadores will want his form to continue when they face the proud Mexican team again in their opening match of the Season.

Flyweight (52kg)
Former British Lionheart Andrew Selby had an excellent tournament, and was one of the most exciting boxers to watch as he made his way through to the semi-finals. There he lost an incredibly close battle with Uzbekistan’s Jasurbek Latipov by split decision. “It just wasn’t to be this time,” said the Welshman, “but overall I have had a good year in 2013, winning gold at the Europeans and bronze at the Worlds, so it augurs well for the future and is a good start on the road to Rio in 2016.

Bantamweight (56kg)
Mykola Butsenko of the Ukraine Otamans was also on fine form. Following an excellent quarterfinal match against Selcuck Ecker of Turkey, he was guaranteed a medal. Butsenko did well to overcome the London 2012 Olympian to progress to the semi-finals. He then had a tough bout against eventual silver medallist Vladimir Nikitin of Russia, before coming home with Bronze.

Lightweight (60kg)
At lightweight it was Dolce & Gabbana Italia Thunder boxer Valentino Domenico who was in the vanguard of WSB boxers. Valentino has medalled in every World Boxing Championships since Mianyang 2005 (where he took Bronze) with Silver in Chicago 2007, Gold in Milan 2009 and another Bronze in Baku 2011. His third bronze at a World Championships, which he won in Almaty, means that he has collected quite the trophy haul over almost a decade of world class competition. En route this year he notably beat fellow WSB boxer Lindolfo Delgado of the Mexico Guerreros in a hard fought bout.

Light Welterweight (64kg)
Merey Akshalov who boxed for the Astana Arlans Kazakhstan in Season II utterly dominated this group with an outstanding performance in the final against Yasnier Lopez of Cuba, who will be joining the new Domadores team this season.

Both boxers had outstanding tournaments and brought home a gold and silver medal respectively for the WSB. It will be interesting to see whether the two face off again, when the C1 weight category teams meet in March.

Welterweight (69kg)
Arajik Marutjan, was Germany’s first hope for a medal this year. The former Leipzig Leopards boxer from the 2011/2012 season got his best result to date by taking bronze in a tough weight category, which also featured Cuba’s Arisnoidys Despaigne. Despaigne, who has been named on the Domadores squad for his year, looked great for much of the tournament before having a seriously difficult final match against the boxer of the tournament, Daniyar Yeleussinov of Kazakhstan. The 2013 AIBA Boxer of the year left the Cuban with a silver, which was nonetheless a good result for the WSB athlete.

Middleweight (75kg)
Ireland’s Jason Quigley, who formally boxed for the Los Angeles Matadors had a fantastic tournament to take a silver medal, becoming the first Irishman to win something more than a bronze at a World Championships. Clearly mobile in the ring and with heavy hands he looked the complete boxer. He lost his final bout against Astana Arlans listed boxer Zhanibek Alimkhanuly. The Kazakh boxer has not yet made his WSB debut for the Arlans team, despite being on their books last year. With a boxer of Quigley’s stature admitting that he “couldn’t get near him”, and with a World Championships gold medal on his CV, that may soon change though.

Light Heavyweight (81kg)
Another former British Lionhearts boxer Joseph Ward was also in action. The Irishman looked like a rock throughout the tournament and did extremely well to claim the bronze, becoming the 7th Irishman to do so. He did particularly well to even be fit enough to participate in the tournament following what he called a “freak injury” to his knee during the European Championships in June. The level of resilience he showed to be back in top form in time for this event is praiseworthy in itself, let alone the bronze medal.

Heavyweight (91kg)
Another Dolce & Gabbana Italia Thunder Boxer was creating waves at this year’s event. Clemente Russo was back to his best, much to the delight of the local fans who chanted the great Italian’s name as he took his second world title to add to the one he won in Chicago in 2007 and his two Olympic silver medals. Very much the media attraction, Clemente was swarmed by the world’s press as he left the ring. As a former movie star the Italian was more than capable of coping with this attention, and dealt with the media in an extremely professional manner, giving everyone the time they wanted.

Not to be overlooked was Argentina Condors boxer Yamil Peralta who impressed this year with an extremely solid performance which earned him a well-deserved bronze. Russo and Peralta did not meet during the championships as they were on opposite sides of the bracket. It will be interesting to see how the new World Champion and World Bronze medallist fare when they line up against each other for their respective teams in January 2014.

 

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