As the weeks have gone by, we have found ourselves using the phrase “wide open” to describe the World Series of Boxing’s (WSB) Group A almost ad nauseam this year, however that still remains the case in this exciting half of the draw.
Everything is still to play for despite the two favourites: Season III runners-up the Ukraine Otamans and Season II Champions the Dolce & Gabbana Italia Thunder beginning to pull away from the chasing pack in the table. Can they continue to gain ground or will they be hunted down this weekend? And who will hold the pivotal third and fourth place when the dust has settled?
Team Germany vs. Argentina Condors
10/01/2014, 19:00 (GMT) – Watch live for FREE on AIBAboxingTV.com
In what is arguably the most important match for the overall look of the table this week, the Argentina Condors will try to defend their excellent position in the table (3rd), away from home to a fourth placed German side that is only a point behind them, despite also having a match in hand.
The Eagles are bringing out the big guns in a bid to move up the table, with second place potentially in reach if the Italians also slip-up against the USA. Irishman David Oliver Joyce is one such athlete at Lightweight (60kg). With a record of 5-2 across all four seasons of the WSB so far, Joyce is a steady hand. He will be eager to atone for his loss to current AIBA World bronze medallist Domenico Valentino at the end of last year. His opponent is the very talented Brian Nuñez who also has a point to prove. The Argentinian has probably had the most difficult introduction to the WSB of any new boxer in the group so far with his first bouts against World silver medallist Robson Conceição of the Italia Thunder and Pavlo Ishchenko of the Otamans, who has been touted as a potential new Vasyl Lomachenko. Thus it should be a heated affair.
German talisman Erik Pfeifer will also be in the ring at Super Heavyweight (91+kg). The current World bronze medallist has yet to be defeated in the WSB and has 4-0 record. He will be looking to seal the deal for the German outfit against his opponent Facundo Ghiglione who comes into the bout with a 1-3 record.
USA Knockouts vs. Dolce & Gabbana Italia Thunder
11/01/2014, 01:50 (GMT) – Watch live for FREE on AIBAboxingTV.com
The Italia Thunder are easily the team with the greatest depth of talent in the WSB this year. Typically, and with the resources to spare, the Italians aren’t holding back anything and have sent a very strong team to Miami this weekend. AIBA World silver medallist Robson Conceição from Brazil will be making his second WSB appearance at Lightweight against American Daquan Mays who will be making his WSB debut after stepping in at the last minute for Luis Diaz. Vincenzo Mangiacapre will be another one to watch for the Thunder at Welterweight (69kg). The Italian is in good form at the moment. He looked solid at the World Championships in October and has a win this season already, taking him to 4-0 in the WSB. The London 2012 Olympic bronze medallist will be looking to further improve that record over WSB debutant Souleymane Cissoko of France who will be in the ring for the Knockouts.
But the USA are also fielding a solid team with talented Brazilian Borges de Souza making his WSB debut at Light Heavyweight (81kg) for the Knockouts, against Abdelhafid Benchabla who (unfortunately for the Desert Hawks), is the most successful Algerian in the WSB with a record of 15-4. Having fought for three different WSB teams but never his home country, he must be high on the Desert Hawks wish list for next season. Speaking of which…
Algeria Desert Hawks vs. Ukraine Otamans
The Desert Hawks face a difficult match this weekend against group leaders, the Ukraine Otamans. That said, the Ukrainians seem to be strategically resting their top boxers and are offering experience to some of their fringe athletes. If you combine both teams’ individual records coming into this bout, you get a total win/loss tally of 4-7 for the Algerians and 5-1 for the Otamans. Whilst the Ukrainian team has a cleaner sounding record, it also means that across all five boxers, they have only amassed six bouts of experience between them. Up-and-coming boxer Pavlo Ishchenko will however be in the team against the talented Frenchman Oualid Belaoura. Ishchenko has been looking good this year amassing two wins to take his record to 2-1, whilst the French athlete will be looking to atone for a disappointing opening loss against Team Germany. That might make this a lively encounter.
The Desert Hawks meanwhile will look to Light Heavyweight Nabil Kassel a two season veteran with a record of 3-2, to make short work of debutant Oleksandr Khyzhniak.On balance, the Ukrainian team still looks the stronger overall but if Kassel and some of the other more experienced athletes like Belaoura and Welterweight Fehim Chabane are able to step up to the plate, we could see an upset in Algeria.