The World Series of Boxing (WSB) Season IV kicked-off today in Almaty, Kazakhstan. It was as if we were never away with the action, picking up right where we left it in May, with Season III Champions the Astana Arlans Kazakhstan totally dominating their opponents. Today it was the WSB “Bad Boys”, the Baku Fires, who succumbed to the Alfa Wolf team.
Today we had the Light Flyweights (46-49kg), Bantamweights (56kg), Light Welterweights (64kg), Middleweights (75kg) and Heavyweights (91kg) in the ring. Let’s take a look at the action.
Bout of the match
WSB Middleweight legend Sergiy Derevyanchenko from Ukraine had a tough introduction to Season IV in the shape of the experienced Mikalai Vesialou of the Baku Fires. The southpaw Azeri came into the bout with a 7-0 unbeaten record and the reach advantage. It was enough to cause the WSB’s most experienced boxer some difficulties. Nonetheless Derevyanchenko, who became the first boxer to win across all four seasons, only just managed to scrape through the first round. But the Arlans veteran’s performance today was a little similar to a Stevenson’s Rocket steam train; a slow and grinding start, followed by a continual increase in momentum until he hit top speed and became a really unstoppable force. Taking the centre of the ring in the second, he finally found his range in the third round and landed some very heavy body shots and good combinations. By round four the Azeri was given two standing eight counts in extremely short succession. With the referee looking into the fighter’s eyes and deciding that he had seen enough, the bout was stopped shortly after. Thus, despite a slow start in round one, Derevyanchenko is most definitely back as a force to be reckoned with again this season.
Boxer of the match
Bagdad Alimbekov looked very solid for the Arlans against Magomed Gurbanov of Azerbaijan. The slick Kazakh Bantamweight managed to land good combinations on the Azeri to open a small cut in the first. Gurbanov responded well however and pressed hard early in the second. The Kazakh boxer seemed to make the better use of angles but the Azeri was relentless. In round three, Alimbekov tried to draw his opponent on by dropping his hands and Gurbanov actually followed suit which changed the dynamics a little. By the final round, both boxers looked tired after such a huge effort. During the bout it seemed that the Azeri threw a lot more shots, though the Kazakh threw more accurate and harder ones. Following the surprise defeat they had suffered at Light Flyweight (see below), the crowd looked visibly nervous. But they needn’t have been with the Azeri comfortably taking a straight 3:0 win giving him his 7th straight win in the WSB across two seasons. Credit should be given to Gurbanov however, who looked good on his debut in the WSB.
The Turning point
Light Welterweight Askhat Ualikhanov who was making his WSB debut todayhad a great opening round against Osman Aliyev of the Baku Fires. With the match currently standing at 1:1 Ualikhanov displayed no signs of nervousness as he flew around the ring and landed strikes on his opponent almost at will. The orthodox Azeri, opened round two with his lead hand low hoping to draw in the Kazakh boxer, but the local man was a little bit faster and tended to beat Aliyev to the punch, which somewhat negated the strategy. Ualikhanov who took the opening three rounds, knew he just had to stay out of trouble going into the fourth. He was very light on his feet and made good use of the ring as he tried to shut the bout down. In the end the Azeri had nothing to offer him. Ualikhanov looks like a great addition to the team this year, who knows where they have been hiding him.
Fact/Stat of the match
Today was the first time the WSB has trialled its new adidas lace-up and velcro gloves. Last season we used velcro gloves to speed up the processing back stage. This year however we have opted for enhanced quality. The new gloves mould beautifully to the hands and provide fantastic wrist support and protection for the athletes, whose initial feedback has been positive.
Wrap up of the rest of the day’s action
Elsewhere Southpaw Azeri Khamza Nametov won the opening bout of the season at Light Flyweight, causing something of an upset in defeating his orthodox opponent Anvar Muzaparov. This was an excellent and highly competitive bout, fought with plenty of heart by both men. The Azeri boxer gradually began to impose himself and scored two impressive knockdowns. On the second occasion, the Kazakh boxer did well to slip a punch before getting nailed with a straight left. It was enough to see the Baku Fires temporarily take the lead over the defending champions.
Later, with the score already 3:1 to the Arlans, the final bout of the day between Vasilii Levit and the experienced Abdulkadir Abdullayev was slightly academic. However, a win for either boxer would make the difference in the headlines between an “emphatic win for the Arlans” and something more along the lines of “the Arlans grind out an early win”. Abdullayev, a veteran of all three previous seasons with eight wins and only one defeat was facing a WSB debutant in 23 year old Levit. That didn’t stop the young gun blasting his way through his Azeri rival, which included giving him a standing eight count in round one. Under the vocal instructions of coach Sergiy Korchynsky, the young man didn’t lose his head and boxed well for the next two rounds before shutting the match down. “A dog’s head on a pup’s shoulders” is the expression that springs to mind to describe the mature display by the Arlans’ new boy, who is yet another excellent home-grown talent the Alpha Wolves have found.
The Baku Fires will have an important match at home in Azerbaijan against the visiting Mexico Guerreros while the Arlans head to St Petersburg to take on team Russia
We have got more amazing boxing coming your way this weekend featuring such matches as the Cuba Domadores vs Mexico Guerreros and Argentina Condors take on the Dolce & Gabbana Italia Thunder. For a full list of times, fixtures and to watch every bout live (and Free!) Check out the WSB homepage.