With the World Series of Boxing (WSB) Season IV quarter-finals just around the corner, we have some exciting matches coming up with some amazing bouts potentially on the cards.
Four teams stamped their authority on Group A and four more scrambled through the toughest group in WSB history in Group B, known as the “Group of Death” by the media. Now we take a look at some of the possible line-ups in this preview.
Astana Arlans Kazakhstan vs. Team Germany
The defending Champions Astana Arlans Kazakhstan have had a solid Regular Season. Master tactician, coach Sergiy Korchynsky has used the time to introduce exciting new talent into the ranks of the team. The Alpha Wolves finished second in Group B, right behind the Cuba Domadores, yet Korchynsky’s skilful use of squad rotation means that the Arlans are still fairly fresh coming into the Playoffs.
Germany meanwhile have been a very effective and consistent team this year. They have introduced a lot of younger boxers, but they also have a solid first team, who we can expect to see deployed in this encounter.
Fans will be excited by the possibility of seeing current World Heavyweight (91kg) bronze medallist Erik Pfeifer from Team Germany, who is unbeaten in the WSB (5-0), against Filip Hrgovic of Croatia. The Arlans boxer has four seasons of experience and a record of 18-3 in the WSB and was the 2012 WSB Individual Champion.
At Light Heavyweight (81kg), the Arlans’ second Croatian team member Hrvoje Sep (14-6) and Germany’s Serge Michel (4-3) would be an interesting prospect. The pair has fought before, with the bout finishing in the Arlans’ fighter’s favour. The German’s form has improved markedly however and he is unbeaten this season. At 25 years old, he seems to be coming into his own and won his last bout against talented Indian boxer Sumit Sangwan by a TKO. Whether this is enough to beat Sep’s four seasons of experience is the question everyone is asking.
Cuba Domadores vs. USA Knockouts
The Cuba Domadores who have only suffered one defeat so far this season will be taking on a resurgent USA Knockouts team which is packed full of young talent. It is well known that the Cuban’s line-up includes multiple World and Olympic champions but the USA talent scouts had a very productive off season and brought in a number of outstanding prospects, particularly from Latin America, who are just bursting with potential. The question is whether they are ready to take on the might of the WSB’s most dominant boxing team?
“This is going to be a historic match between our two countries. This will be the first time since at least 1962, that Cuba and the USA will be meeting head to head like this. It’s extremely exciting. We have worked hard in the last 12 months to identify and recruit some of the brightest young boxing stars. We have one eye on the future with this team and this will be an excellent opportunity for them to take on the best boxers out there. They are all excited by the prospect and I think we may see some performances that will surprise a few people”, said the USA Knockouts management.
“Like in past decades, there’s a lot of expectation because of how skilled the two teams are and the animosity that has existed between them over time. We took part in those bilateral matches for years and never lost. The United States only managed to tie us once. The matches were regular and awoke much interest in the public back then. Today, many people are saying the USA has no skilled Olympic-style boxers, but I believe it’s a mistake to think that. They do have talented boxers and a long history in the sport. Even though their pugilists have tended to move towards pro boxing, they have more than enough talent to give us a good fight”, stated Alcides Sagarra, Cuban boxing trainer in the Havana Times.
Nineteen year old Knockouts boxer Carlos Adames has been sensational in his debut season in the WSB. Winning three out of his four bouts, he has taken on and beaten established WSB veterans such as Algeria’s Abdelkader Chadi and Italia Thunder’s Branimir Stankovic, to find himself ranked number four at Light Welterweight (64kg). Is the Dominican ready for a shot against two-time (and current) World silver medallist and London 2012 Olympic bronze medallist Yasniel Toledo? The fans think so.
Number three ranked Welterweight (69kg) Gabriel Maestre was in stunning form at last year’s World Championships and has exploded into the WSB in his debut season. A potential line-up against either number one ranked Arisnoidys Despaigne, the current World silver medallist, or Roniel Iglesias Sotolongo, the London 2012 Olympic Champion, is a mouth-watering prospect.
Russian Boxing Team vs. Ukraine Otamans
A huge clash between two of Europe’s boxing super-powers was set up after the Russians managed to inflict defeat on the Cubans in the last match of the Regular Season. The Russians have been solid performers this season in the “Group of Death” whilst the Otamans, as Season III runners-up, have dominated Group A, with only the Italia Thunder able to keep pace with them. This should be an interesting clash.
Twenty-two year old Bantamweight (56kg) Mykola Butsenko (4-2) has been in impressive form for the Otamans over the last two WSB seasons and has brought his record to 4-2 including a Knockout over Germany’s Edgar Walth in Week 2 of the Regular Season. Russia’s World silver medallist Vladimir Nikitin (5-2) meanwhile is going to be a handful for him. This match would see the number 7 (Butsenko) facing the number 6 (Nikitin) and two boxers with similar records and a comparable level of experience taking each other on in an epic clash.
Light Heavyweights (81kg) Nikita Ivanov of Russia and Oleksandr Gvozdyk of the Otamans would be another amazing encounter. The Ukrainian is unbeaten at 9-0 in the WSB and bagged the bronze medal at the London 2012 Olympic Games. Ivanov meanwhile impressed at last year’s World Championships and defeated current World Champion Julio La Cruz in his WSB debut, which was quite a statement.
Dolce & Gabbana Italia Thunder vs. Azerbaijan Baku Fires
The Season II winners Dolce & Gabbana Italia Thunder have recruited heavily this season and probably now possess the most talented squad in depth in the WSB after Cuba. It is certainly the most international team with boxers from Brazil, Wales and even the Philippines filling the ranks. Their opponents, the WSB “Bad Boys” are relying on domestic talent predominantly but have been extremely impressive in the “Group of Death” this year.
World Heavyweight Champion and double Olympic silver medallist Clemente Russo of Italy has taken his WSB record to 18-2, but an early season slip up proved that he is not invincible. Azerbaijan’s Abdulkadir Abdullayev has gone to 8-2 in the WSB and potentially has the talent to cause an upset against the flamboyant Italian if he can out-muscle him and turn the bout into a scrap, which would destroy Russo’s preference to box safely.
The Thunder are blessed with two amazing Super Heavyweights in Britain’s Joe Joyce and Romania’s Mihai Nistor, either of whom would be an amazing match-up with Magomedrasul Medzhidov, the current World Champion and London 2012 Olympic bronze medallist who is 8-2 in the WSB and has only lost to Russo and Olympic Champion Oleksandr Usyk, formerly of the Ukraine Otamans. Both the Thunder’s stars have the disruptive capacity to challenge Medzhidov as they proved on separate occasions by pushing hard against Usyk last season.