The whispered talk for some months among coaches and boxing experts has not been about the might of defending champions the Astana Arlans, or the exciting new prospect the Cuba Domadores, but rather about the potential emergence of a lethal Russian team this year.
After finding themselves in the “Group of Death”, many rival teams feared that the Russians would up the ante this year. Following this staggering result in St.-Petersburg, we may now ask the question: are we now seeing the emergence of a new WSB super-power?
Today the Light Flyweights (46-49kg), the Bantamweights (56kg), Light Welterweights (64kg), Middleweights (75kg) and Heavyweights (91kg) all showed their stuff in the ring.
Bout of the match
Vladimir Nikitin who grabbed a silver medal at the AIBA World Boxing Championships Almaty 2013, took on Sylwester Kozlowski of the Hussars Poland at Bantamweight. There was a hefty gulf between the two in terms of experience levels. With Nikitin psychologically buoyed (even if physically tired) from his success in Kazakhstan, he looked good coming into this bout. With the Russian taking the rounds by the fourth, it was clear that the Polish boxer had no choice but to come forward and look for a TKO. Unfortunately he was unable to find the space to do so, with the Russian dominating the centre of the ring. Nikitin landed a huge uppercut to the body with thirty seconds left in the fourth that visibly rocked the Hussar, but he hung on. In the end it was the experienced Nikitin who took the bout.
Boxer of the match
Middleweight Tomasz Jablonski was the Hussars last real chance of some salvation against Artem Chebotarev of Russia. The Pole won three of his four bouts last year in the WSB. Chebotarev however, took a bronze at the World Boxing Championships in Almaty a few weeks ago. Add to that the fact that he is a double Gold medallist in the European Continental Championships and three times Russian National Champion and you start to see why he wasn’t the ideal opponent to face when your team is trying to stage a comeback. Arguably featuring the most accomplished boxers on both sides, this would have been the bout of the match had something stunning not happened so early on. Jablonski was not here to mess about. The shorter Pole had to try to close the gap on his tall opponent, yet as our TV Commentator so eloquently put it, there are three words to describe Chebotarev: mobile, agile…And hostile. Shortly after the commentator made this statement, the boxer justified it as he dropped his opponent with a swift uppercut at the end of round one. The Pole was unable to recover and the Russian won by an amazing and unexpectedly sudden TKO.
The turning point
Russian Armen Zakaryan took on Light Welterweight Kazimierez Legowski and this was the key point in the match. The Hussars boxer has a very difficult style to face even when you consider that he is a southpaw. He was arguably ahead for most of the first round and still at 2:0 it looked like Poland were about to stage a fight back. Then the Polish boxer bounced back to avoid a blow and was sprung back off the ropes just in time to be propelled into a huge left hand to the solar plexus. The shot to the body with the added force of the ropes was enough to see the Pole drop to the floor, unable to recover. The result was the first straight knockout for the Russians this year and the confirmation of Russian supremacy over the Hussars.
Fact/Stat of the match
Zakaryan’s knockout was the second first round KO in just one weekend. The other came from Erislandy Savon of Cuba who took out his opponent with a left hook in just over a minute.
The rest of the match was fairly academic with the Russians clearly in control, yet still the bombardment continued, which showed real hunger from the team. Heavyweight Pavel Nikitaev was interesting to watch against Tomasz Kowalski. Russian has a very upright and square stance and would look almost like an 18th century English boxer were it not for his incredibly ripped body, which is remarkably well defined for a heavyweight and betrays his elite athlete pedigree. By round two, the Russian was head hunting such showed his confidence. In the end he was more than a match for his opponent.
Finally, Dawid Sebastian Jagodzinski of the Hussars took on his namesake David Ayrapetyan at Light Flyweight. The two orthodox boxers were very smooth and traded blows aggressively. The Russian Olympian’s timing was superb and although the Polish boxer fought with the relentless determination we have come to expect from the team, it was the Russian’s accuracy that made the difference. With the ten year age gap between them showing in the form of the Russian’s experience, it was unsurprising that he took the bout in the end.
Coming up next
Hussars Poland now have to face their biggest match of the year, the Cuba Domadores at home. There will be a lot of media hype in the country for the boxers to have to deal with. How will they cope with the added pressure? One thing is for sure, life just got tougher for the Group B underdogs. Russia meanwhile will have a real test when they take on defending champions Astana Arlans Kazakhstan at home. The result of that bout will give us a clearer indication of the real strength of this Russian side. It will be an important moment for Group B next weekend, make sure you tune in!
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