At last, we are off!
This weekend’s action will give us our first real glimpse into the potential shape of things to come in the so called “Group of Death”. The Cuba Domadores will be making their full WSB debut and we will also have defending champions Astana Arlans Kazakhstan in action…What a weekend!
This year, with the move to ten weight categories, the boxers have been split into two groups: Category 1 (C1) and Category 2 (C2). In terms of weights, the categories break down in the following way:
C1 = 46-49kg, 56kg, 64kg, 75kg, 91kg
C2 = 52kg, 60kg, 69kg, 81kg, 91+kg
Whilst Group A is seeing C2 in action this weekend, Group B on the other hand will have the C1 boxers in the ring.
Astana Arlans Kazakhstan vs. Azerbaijan Baku Fires
Defending champions, the Arlans will be looking to carry on the form they enjoyed last season and that their national team demonstrated during the recent AIBA World Boxing Championships Almaty 2013, where the team topped the medals list. WSB bad boys, the Baku Fires meanwhile will be looking to rock the boat early and have sent a strong team to attempt to accomplish that. They will be looking to Heavyweight (91kg) Abdulkadir Abdullayev who has fought across all three seasons of the WSB and has only lost once in nine bouts. He faces debutant Vasilii Levit, who can expect a rough introduction to the competition. Mikalai Vesialou is another top boxer who is unbeaten across two seasons and seven bouts. However, in what is potentially the bout of the match, he has been drawn against none other than Mr WSB himself, Ukrainian Sergiy Derevyanchenko who has an astonishing 20-2 record across all three seasons. The Arlans meanwhile will also be looking to Bagdad Alimbekov who was unbeaten last season over six bouts including in the Finals, to get some points on the board for the team at Bantamweight (56kg) against debutant Magomed Gurbanov. This will be an interesting bout, with both teams handing debuts to new boxers whilst retaining more experienced heads where necessary.
Mexico Guerreros vs. Cuba Domadores
In a replay of this summer’s exciting exhibition match, the Domadores travel to Mexico to make their full WSB debut. The Guerreros will be looking for revenge after losing on home soil to the team that many are tipping to go all the way this year. Veteran Light Welterweight (64kg) Juan Romero will be the Guerreros go to man. Having fought across all three seasons of the WSB and losing only once in the last two years in the competition, Romero will nonetheless have his hands full in Yasnier Toledo Lopez, who looked fearsome on his way to a World silver medal just a few weeks ago. This will be one of the most interesting bouts of the match.Elsewhere, Erislandy Savon Cotilla is going to be one of the Domadores to watch this season. He will almost certainly be contesting for one of the top slots of the Heavyweight category this Season. It will be interesting to see how he transitions to the five rounds against fellow WSB newcomer Djibril Coupe of France for the Guerreros.
Russian Boxing Team vs. Hussars Poland
Although it is very early days in the competition, this match in St.-Petersburg and the repeat in Poland could be the deciding factors between which of the two teams make it through to the Play-Offs. That explains why the Hussars leading boxer Tomaz Jablonski has been deployed at Middleweight (75kg). With three wins and one loss under his belt, he will be pivotal to the team’s success. However the fact that this match over both legs could be the difference between sailing through to the Play-Offs and being unceremoniously dumped out of the competition early seems to have been recognised in St.-Petersburg too. Thus we see the welcome inclusion of 2010 European Champion and 2013 World bronze medallist Artem Chebotarev for the first time in Russia’s starting line-up. This is probably the bout of the match on paper. 2013 World Silver medallist Vladimir Nikitin is also taking to the ring at Bantamweight against Sylwester Kozlowski who will have to put his 0-3 losing streak up against one of the heaviest hitters in the world at that weight category. It will certainly be an interesting match, and one that could shape the future of the group.