The second episode of the World Series of Boxing (WSB) Season IV brings four epic clashes. Last week, all the usual suspects dominated their matches but now with some seriously important encounters in both groups, we will begin to gain a more detailed look into who will be the dominant teams this year.
Let’s take a look at what we can expect.
Group A: USA Knockouts vs. Argentina Condors
In a “Battle of the Americas”, this bout is extremely important for both sides as the Knockouts and the Condors are both coming off the back of 4-1 losses to the Ukraine Otamans and Italia Thunder respectively. The Otamans and Thunder may well be the leading teams in the group, but this match will be important in establishing the pecking-order overall. It is a match that both teams need to win.
Argentina start with the advantage; with the news that US Heavyweight (91kg) Josh Taylor is injured and reserve Xuanxuan Wang from China was also unavailable, the USA Knockouts had no choice but to cede the bout early. Sportingly however, both teams have agreed to stage an exhibition bout for the fans with Earl Newman being called up to make his WSB debut against Yamil Peralta. The US hands debuts to its entire line up in fact. Middleweight (75kg) Caleb Plant is one to watch out for. In 2011, the Nashville based boxer became the first athlete from Knoxville to win a national title at Light Heavyweight (81kg) since Evander Holyfield in 1984. He achieved this feat just a day after he received the news that his fiancées’ parents had been killed in the storms that ravaged the USA’s southern States that year. Here is a boxer with serious resolve. On the other side, Bantamweight (56kg) Alberto Ezequiel Melian will probably be the best weapon for the Condors as he already has four bouts in the WSB (three wins).
Group B: Hussars Poland vs. Cuba Domadores
This is the match that boxing fans in Poland have been waiting for. It will be the biggest sporting event since the country hosted the UEFA EURO 2012 and the biggest boxing event for as long as anyone can remember. The local team, who surprised everyone last year by making it to the Playoffs through their resilience and determination, will need to show that same spirit again when they face a line-up that includes some of the best boxers on the planet. AIBA World Boxing Championships Almaty 2013 gold medallist Lazaro Alvarez Estrada will lead the team out at Lightweight (60kg) and will have serious back up in the shape of World silver medallist Arisnoidys Despaigne at Welterweight (69kg) and Flyweight (52kg) Gerardo Cervantes, who was also the Cuban number one pick for that tournament. 2011 AIBA World Champion Julio Cesar La Cruz takes the Light Heavyweight (81kg). Yoandy Toirac looks like the only potential chink in the armour at Super Heavyweight (91+kg), at least that is until you watch him in action. The Hussars will have a tough night ahead of them.
Group B: Russia vs. Astana Arlans Kazakhstan
Just how good is this Russian side? Some say they can go all the way, others that their 5-0 win over the Hussars Poland last week was a one off. We don’t know…But this weekend we will find out!
The Russians will host defending champions, the Arlans, in a match that will really demonstrate whether Russia has the capacity to be a major threat this year. The Russian’s certainly look to have selected a team capable of doing just that with Current World Champion and London 2012 Olympic Gold medallistMisha Aloian opening the evening for the hosts at Flyweight. He will be taking on WSB debutant Olzhas Sattibayev. The Arlans respond at Lightweight with WSB veteran Samat Bashenov, who won five of his six bouts last year, losing only to the uber-talented Vasyl Lomachenko in the Finals. His opponent though is Adlan Abdurashidov who has three seasons’ experience in the WSB with wins over the likes of current World bronze medallist Domenico Valentino on his CV. This should be a hot one to watch and could be the bout of the weekend! The Arlans will also be fielding Croatian Filip Hrgovic, one of the few survivors of their famous “legionnaires” squad who helped the team achieve such success in Season III. The veteran fighter could be the difference on the night when he faces Sergey Kuzmin.
Group B: Azerbaijan Baku Fires vs. Mexico Guerreros
With both teams coming off defeats, this is an incredibly important match. The two sides have responded with differing strategies, with the Fires lining up a group of seasoned WSB veterans, including the unbeaten Light Heavyweight Ramazan Magomedau who has 14 victories over three seasons in the WSB. Lightweight Albert Selimov should not be overlooked either, as the only boxer he has ever lost to in the WSB was non-other than Lomachenko in the quarter-finals last season. The Mexicans’ meanwhile have opted for a clean-out and are bringing a whole new-look team to Baku. Carl Hield from the Bahamas is one such athlete. Hield’s selection by the Mexico Guerreros represents a major success for AIBA’s Road to Dream program, which helps nurture athletes from developing boxing nations. He also took part in the recent World Championships in Almaty as part of the program where it took AIBA Boxer of the Year and World Champion Daniyar Yeleussinov of Kazakhstan to stop him. It will be interesting to see whether this strategy pays of for the Guerreros, who are also fielding a squad that are entirely foreign other than Alvarez.
Due to unforeseen circumstances, this week’s scheduled match between the German Eagles and the Ukraine Otamans has been postponed until after the Christmas break, so too has the match between the Algeria Desert Hawks and the Dolce & Gabbana Italia Thunder which will now be held on November 30.