The World Series of Boxing (WSB) has announced an exciting line-up for the Season IV quarter-finals after ten outstanding weeks of boxing in the Regular Season.
Although there are still two matches to be contested on March 12th which may affect which teams will face each other, but their results will not impact upon which teams have made it through to the Playoffs.
We do know however that the biggest match announced will be the USA Knockouts against the Cuba Domadores which will take place on Friday March 28th (1st Leg) in Miami and Friday 4th April (2nd Leg) in Havana. The excitement around that match has already begun to rise with ESPN Deportes and Radio Habana Cuba already running features on it. The historic nature of the match, which will feature current World and Olympic Champions, is likely to generate ever more interest among boxing fans the world-over as the event draws ever nearer.
Astana Arlans Kazakhstan (will face Team Germany)
The defending Champions, the Astana Arlans Kazakhstan won Season III in imperious fashion but were pushed very close in the Finals by the Ukraine Otamans. Having won seven of their ten matches in the Regular Season, amassing 22 points in the process, the “Alpha Wolves” look like a dangerous prospect again this year. The unveiling of their latest addition to the team, World Champion and AIBA Best Boxer 2013 Daniyar Yeleussinov, in the final week of the Regular Season, has only strengthened their hand.
Team Germany (will face the Astana Arlans Kazakshtan)
Consistent, solid and a handful for anyone, the German team has been in top form this season. With 12 points from 9 matches, and with a match in hand against Ukraine, the Eagles have a strong line-up across all 10 WSB weight categories. Star Boxer Erik Pfeifer remains unbeaten at Super Heavyweight (91+kg) and the World bronze medallist will comfortable leading this team out against anyone put in front of him.
Russian Boxing Team (will face the Ukraine Otamans or Dolce & Gabbana Italia Thunder)
Pre-season, much to the surprise of many, most of the coaches at the Official Draw were not discussing the arrival of the highly talented Cubans, but talking in hushed tones about the risk faced by the emergence of a new refurbished and lethal looking Russian Boxing Team. Their concerns have proven to be justified. Even when the Russians allowed their fringe boxers to compete this year, they looked dangerous. They are cold and ruthless in the ring and with their take-no-prisoners style of fighting, they will represent an unpleasant night in the office for whoever is destined to face them.
Ukraine Otamans (will face the Azerbaijan Baku Fires or Russian Boxing Team)
Last Season’s runners-up pushed the eventual Champions Astana Arlans Kazakhstan to the closest ever Finals the WSB has seen. The match went right down to the wire, with it requiring nothing short of a tiebreaker bout to decide the evening. Despite all the turbulence the athletes have faced on the home-front in recent months, they have remained as clinical as ever between the ropes. This just underlines exactly how professional and focused these guys are in their approach to their ring-craft. They are just as capable as anyone else of going all the way this year.
Azerbaijan Baku Fires (will face the Dolce & Gabbana Italia Thunder or Ukraine Otamans)
The Azeri’s boldly stated in the pre-season that they wanted to fight the top teams in the Regular Season and insisted that they would still be good enough to go to the Playoffs. Their prediction seems to have been spot on. The WSB “Bad Boys” have earned a reputation for being willing to stand and fight anyone. They are fearless, talented (and as one of the teams to have competed in all four WSB seasons to date), experienced. This is a dangerous combination for whoever comes out against them.
Dolce & Gabbana Italia Thunder (will face the Azerbaijan Baku Fires of Russian Boxing Team)
If the Germans are almost stereotypically “consistent”, then the Italians are most definitely “stylish”. Featuring one of the most exciting international line-ups, the Season II winners have almost inevitably made it into the Playoffs again. With talent in their ranks from the UK, France and even as far away as the Philippines, the Group A leaders have the resources to draw upon to compete against anyone in the world. With all eyes on Kazakhstan and Cuba, it could be the Italians who surprise this season.
Cuba Domadores (will face the USA Knockouts)
Exploding into the WSB this year, the Cuba Domadores have been a boxing sensation. With a line-up comprising of multiple World and Olympic medallists, the Cubans look to be a class above the rest. Winning 39 of their 45 bouts so far, the Cubans were statistically the most successful team and they still have a match in hand. Their historic match against the USA Knockouts in the quarter-finals will have boxing fans bursting with excitement.
USA Knockouts (will face the Cuba Domadores)
The USA talent scouts were obviously hard at work in the Pre-season last year. That is the only thing that can explain the stunning emergence of such a group of young boxers and untapped talent. The US coaches, seem to have specialised in bringing in highly talented boxers who have somehow flown under the radar of other teams. World bronze medallist Gabriel Maestre is a prime example at Welterweight (69kg). The Venezuelan has shot up the WSB rankings in his debut season and is now the number three ranked boxer in the category. Can the talented young team raise their game further to defeat the unbeaten Domadores? Only time will tell.