Astana Arlans Kazakhstan showed that they are still the side to beat after a thrilling win against the emergent Russian Boxing Team in St.-Petersburg. The Russians had been tipped in many quarters to be capable of causing an upset here, but it was the Arlans who came away with the victory.
Today the Flyweights (52kg), Lightweights (60kg), Welterweights (69kg), Light Heavyweights (81kg) and Super Heavyweights (91+kg) were showcasing their skills in the ring.
Bout of the match
Flyweight Olzhas Sattibayev of Kazakhstan had a rough WSB debut when he faced up to southpaw Russian double World Champion Misha Aloian.The Champ looked predictably fantastic but the visiting Kazakh boxer was clearly capable. Despite facing such a high calibre opponent, the Arlans boxer didn’t look outclassed at all. In fact his selection, though a surprise on paper, didn’t look quite so crazy once he was in the ring. His hand speed was phenomenal and he didn’t give an inch. The Russian however did not become World Champion as recently as October without good reason, and his own hand speed and distancing was fantastic. With both fighters hands blurring more than a Monet water colour and with a fluid open style on display, this became a spectacular opening bout. The Russian took the first three rounds, leaving the Kazakh boxer to chase, which he duly did showing no fear of his opponent. But Aloian was equal to it and it was he who gave first blood to the hosting Russians taking them to 1:0. Sattibayev however is clearly one to watch for the future.
Boxer of the match
Russian Lightweight Adlan Abdurashidov took on Samat Bashenov in a battle of the veterans. The two orthodox boxers were spectacular. Totally uncompromising, Bashenov was on a mission to even the score in the match. The first round was very tight but Bashenov took it on split decision. In round two, the competitiveness of the bout saw it deteriorate slightly and become a little scrappy, but 2013 AIBA Best Referee & Judge of the Year Mik Basi did a good job to keep it clean. The Russian brought the fight to close range and took the second round, making it one a piece. The bout thereafter was fought at frenetic but Bashenov began himself making use of his excellent left jab to chip away at his opponent. The commentator summed it up nicely, explaining that it was a story of two styles, one (the Russian’s) of elegance, grace and classy boxing, the other of experience, ring craft and tactical work. It was the later which won through in the end. With Bashenov bringing the defending champions level on the score board.
The turning point
Light Heavyweight London 2012 Olympian Danabek Suzhanov of the Arlans took on 22 year old Dmitriy Bivol of Russia. The commentator had just finished saying that the Russians would not allow a young boxer out against such an experienced rival unless he knew what he was doing, when with 33 seconds left in the first round, the Russian boxer landed a classic one two combination to knock the Kazakh boxer down and tie the score 2:2 going into the final round. Although the Arlans did enough to win the bout, the young Bivol very nearly turned the match around in the Russian’s favour.
Welterweight Merium Nursultanov of the Arlans took to the ring against Aleksandr Ivanov of the Russian team. The power seemed to lie with the Kazakh boxer but the skill with Russian. The bout was very intense with the Kazakh taking the opening round. The Russian changed tactics somewhat in the second, making more use of his speed and reach. Nursultanov responded by trying to shut the ring off. The Kazakh used this tactic to totally impose himself and take the win via his excellent work ethic.
Super Heavyweight WSB Veteran Filip Hrgovic took on Sergey Kuzmin of Russia in a key bout to decide not only the result of the match, but also the shape of the group. This was very much a match between a Croatian matador and a Russian bull. Hrgovic, with his 18 bouts so far across three seasons of WSB and only one loss a season, is exactly the kind of guy you want in this situation. The Russian boxer was obviously strong but the Arlans fighter was clearly the better all-round athlete and tactician. The Russian looked better in round three as he gradually began to wear his opponent down. His selection was again testimony to the tactical genius of Arlans head coach Sergiy Korchynsky and Hrgovic took the bout and match for the Arlans to emphatically squash the challenge from the Russians.
Pretenders to the throne they may still be, but the Russians will need a little more luck on their side if they are to take the title from the Arlans this year.
Coming up next
The Arlans take on bottom placed team (at the time of writing), the Mexico Guerreros at home. Though this won’t be as easy as it sounds on paper; the tough Guerreros are still a match for anyone in the group. The Russians meanwhile will become the first team to travel to Havana in what will be a very tough match against the group leaders, the Cuba Domadores.