With Group A beginning to take shape in this year’s World Series of Boxing (WSB), the top two teams are, as expected, Season III runners-up the Ukraine Otamans and Season II winners the Dolce & Gabbana Italia Thunder. But who will top the table following this weekend’s clash between the group’s big boys?
As the best two teams in this half of the draw, this is an important match, which could have serious implications on the WSB pecking order going forward. With Group B containing so many top teams, the difference between taking first and second place in Group A could be significant in terms of drawing a marginally preferable opponent the first round of the Playoffs. It is likely that the winner of Group A will have a far easier route through to the semi-finals compared to the runner up, making this an important match indeed.
Ukraine Otamans vs. Dolce & Gabbana Italia Thunder
Given the importance of the event it is no wonder that both teams have selected star-studded line-ups. PatrickBarnes of Ireland for instance makes his long-awaited WSB debut at Light Flyweight (46-49kg). The Italia Thunder new boy is a double Olympic bronze medallist and was the 2010 European Champion. He will be taking on the Otamans’ only debutant of the night in OvanesDanielian of Armenia, which should be a tough bout for the latter on paper. The Thunder meanwhile are also sending three of their big guns out in the guise of BranimirStankovic from Serbia, MichelTavares of France and the team’s talismanic captain, World Champion ClementeRusso at Heavyweight (91kg). Light Welterweight (64kg) Stankovic is a two season veteran with a record of 7-2 and has wins over the likes of John Joe Nevin on his CV. He takes on VyacheslavKyslytsyn who only has a record of 2-1 in the WSB, but that includes a win over talented Irishman Eric Donovan in last year’s Finals and his only loss came to world bronze medallist Domenico Valentino. This will be an interesting match to study the Otamans’ star’s potential going forward.
A more serious clash however will be the bout between the Otamans’ veteran Dmytro Mytrofanov who has a record of 8-2 and has only ever lost to two boxers: the WSB’s most successful ever fighter Sergiy Derevyanchenko of the Astana Arlans and none other than his opponent for this weekend’s bout: Michel Tavares. Mytrofanov took revenge for the loss against Tavares last season, so the record between them currently stands at 1:1, making this bout a particularly interesting contest. Finally of course we will get to take a look at current World Boxing Champion Clemente Russo. With a record of 17-1 he has one of the best records in the WSB and will be taking on Siarhei Karneyeu of Belorussia. Karneyeu returns to the WSB with a 3-0 record after missing last season. While Russo will be the favourite in the bout, nonetheless Karneyeu, who was a 2011 world bronze medallist, has enough class to potentially cause an upset.
Argentina Condors vs. Algeria Desert Hawks
The Desert Hawks have performed well so far this season and are currently defending a spot in the Playoffs from the teams that are following them. The Argentinians meanwhile have yet to win a bout. However they will feel that this home draw against Algeria will be a winnable affair and have deployed some of their key fighters in response to that opportunity. The most exciting of these will be Heavyweight world bronze medallist Yamil Peralta, who was last season’s surprise Light Heavyweight number one ranked WSB boxer. Boasting a 6-0 record, including a win over Astana Arlans Kazakhstan veteran Hrvoje Sep, Peralta will nonetheless have his work cut out for him with talented Desert Hawk Chouaib Bouloudinats in the opposite corner. The Desert Hawk has an excellent record himself with the ten wins and four losses he has amassed across three seasons while boxing for three different teams, (Pohang Poseidons, Astana Arlans and Algeria Desert Hawks). That should be the bout of the match on paper, and with the others potentially very close affairs, it could be an important one.
Elsewhere Abdekader Chadi at Light Welterweight will be one to watch for the Desert Hawks. He takes on Alberto Palmetta who has had a difficult start to his WSB career. Losing to Jose Alday Jr of the USA Knockouts in his first bout; and with the experienced Chadi this weekend, things won’t get any easier for the Argentinian. Condors’ Bantamweight (56kg) Alberto Melian (4-1) will also need to take advantage of his experience against debutant Abdelhalim Ouradi to help his team get some points on the board. It could be a close one.