Italy 5-0 Ukraine: Thunder founds the 100 Club

In a very special evening in Sicily the Dolce & Gabbana Italia Thunder became the first team in the World Series of Boxing (WSB) to win 100 home victories. This epic moment came through their star boxer Vincenzo Mangiacapre. Oh, and then there was the small matter of beating the Group A leaders, the Ukraine Otamans, to leapfrog to the top of the table. All in all it was a good night at the office for The Thunder.

The Flyweights (52kg), Lightweights (60kg), Welterweights (69kg), Light Heavyweights (81kg) and Super Heavyweights (91+kg) contested this match.

Bout of the match
Brazilian Lightweight Robson Conceição had an interesting bout against Pavlo Ishchenko, the new up and coming Ukrainian boxer. From the off the Otamans’ new talent began to try to ruffle the Brazilian’s feathers. Covering up and using some rough-house tactics, Ishchenko tried to hustle the Italia Thunder star, who is renowned for his smoothness. His hope of course was to force the Brazilian to lose his temper and make mistakes. This was an ugly but very clever strategy. Conceição showed that he was more than capable of dealing with this however; at one point dumping his opponent on the ground after doing some skilful body repositioning following a moment of wildness from the Ukrainian fighter. Indeed the bout got more and more scrappy. The tactic didn’t pay off for Ishchenko and the crowd disapproved. In spite of that, you could argue that he was obviously outclassed technically before he even stepped in the ring; tactically therefore, by turning it into a scrap, he at least gave himself a chance and took a round from the current World silver medallist. How many 21 year olds can claim that?

Boxer of the match
Welshman Andrew Selby was back at his sublime best against Kazat Usenaliev making only his second appearance of the season at Flyweight. In some ways it is surprising that the Thunder have been so restrained in selecting last season’s number one ranked boxer. Selby had the Italian crowd chanting his name before long. His beautiful boxing style, in which he switches stance and looks as comfortable on either side, made it impossible for the Ukrainian to even hit him that often.  Selby, as the current World bronze medallist, looked fantastic in a bout that just screamed “give me more ring time”. This was one of the classiest performances of the weekend by far from any team. Selby really is one of the top boxers in the WSB at the moment.

The turning point
Italian favourite Vincenzo Mangiacapre took to the ring at Welterweight with the score 2-0 in the Italian’s favour. His opponent Denys Lazarev is a new boxer for the Otamans this season, and came in with a 2-0 record. Mangiacapre is famous for boxing with his hands down around his waist, holding them lower even than teammate Andrew Selby. Like Selby the Italian is also a switch hitter; unlike him though he gets hit a fair bit. Nonetheless this is a risk that the Italian seems willing to take for the advantage of being completely unpredictable offensively with his hands. They seem to sneak in from all sides at unseen angles. The victory not only gave Italy the win, but also provided us with our remarkable statistic of the day. The pair displayed wonderful sportsmanship towards each other after the bout and the classy Italian held the rope for Lazerev as he left the ring.

Fact/Stat of the match
Vincenzo Mangiacapre’s victory marked the 100th home win for the Italia Thunder in the WSB. The Italian team are the first to reach the milestone and are the only team in the WSB to remain unbeaten at home across all four seasons. That is an impressive record.

Quote of the match.
“Usenaliev must be finding it very frustrating chasing shadows, hitting nothing but air but taking punishment as well” – Our commentator describing Andrew Selby’s evasion skills.

Wrap up
Light Heavyweight Abdelhafid Benchabla had an epic battle against Oleksandr Ganzulia. The Otamans boxer was making just his third WSB performance against a man who was making his 21st. By round four the Ukrainian was desperately hanging on and it was somewhat surprising that he made it out for the fifth round. But somehow he made it to the end of the bout with the Thunder boxer clearly coming off the gas in the final round, almost perhaps as though developing a slightly protective role, and not seeming to want to hurt his exhausted younger opponent too much. Benchabla was happy to cruise in to an easy points finish.

Season III sensation Mihai Nistor was the last Italia Thunder boxer in the ring at Super Heavyweight. His opponent Iegor Plevako found him a real handful. It wasn’t a pretty bout but Nistor was clearly superior. Unfortunately it was ended early by a cut but the result was always going one way in any case.

Coming up next
The Italia Thunder will be facing the USA Knockouts at home whilst the Ukraine Otamans will be playing host to the Algeria Desert Hawks.

Catch up!
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