The Astana Arlans Kazakhstan came one step closer to defending their World Series of Boxing (WSB) Champions title when they defeated Team Germany away from home. The Germans managed to get a proverbial foot in the door however by winning two bouts. This could be crucial if the team wants to progress to the next round as they go into the second quarter-final leg next weekend in Kazakhstan.
The Light Flyweights (46-49kg), Bantamweights (56kg), Light Welterweights (64kg), Middleweights (75kg) and Heavyweights (91kg) contested this match.
Bout of the match
Artem Harutyunyan put on an excellent display of boxing against Askhat Ualikhanov of Kazakhstan at Light Welterweight. The young Germanboxer first popped into international consciousness last October, following an outstanding performance in the AIBA World Boxing Championships, which somewhat ironically was held in Almaty, Kazakhstan. Since then he has notched up two wins in the WSB with his only loss coming to London 2012 Olympic silver medallist Denys Berinchyk in his debut. For his part, Ualikhanov made it an interesting bout by doing enough to take round three and physically pushing the German to borderline exhaustion in his bid to prevent his first ever WSB loss. However, unfortunately for the Arlans man, it was not to be and his record slides to 3-1. Harutyunyan now goes to 2-1.
Boxer of the match
Vasilii Levit continues to impress at Heavyweight, with only WSB number one ranked boxer Erislandy Savon of Cuba having done enough this season to stay ahead of him. Still, Levit has clocked up five wins this season, including one over top-rated Abdulkadir Abdullayev. It was always going to be a tough ask for his opponent Artur Mann, the German number two, to unseat him tonight. Levit showed his now usual but still astonishing grace for such a big man and the full repertoire of boxing strikes that make him so difficult to defend against. As spotted by the commentator, if he lacks one quality, it is perhaps demonstrable knockout power, which is something that Savon possesses in abundance. But Levit is a smart boxer that outguns his opponents in frequency of shots thrown and landed, and that so far has been enough. More than enough in fact.
The turning point
Cometh the hour cometh the man. With the Kazakh team 2-1 down to the Germans, the Arlans pushed the boxing equivalent of the nuclear button and sent in Ukrainian athlete Sergiy Derevyanchenko, the most successful WSB boxer in the four year history of the competition. The 23 fight veteran has only lost one bout in his WSB career, which was exactly a year ago in last season’s quarter-finals against the Argentina Condors and Brian Castaño. It was a comfortable points’ victory for the great Derevyanchenko over the young Denis Radovan of Germany. The 21 year old deserves credit for the way in which he approached the bout however. As noted in the preview, he came to the ring with nothing to lose and leaves it having hung tough with the best boxer in the category. That has to be good experience for him going forward. The 2010 Youth World Championships bronze medallist slips to 3-2 in the WSB.
Fact/Stat of the match
How close is Vasilii Levit to being the WSB’s number one Heavyweight? Well he and Erislandy Savon have both won the same number of bouts this year (five), neither have lost any, therefore the only thing separating the two is the fact that Savon has won two by TKO and one by KO, whereas Levit has just one TKO thus far. How much do we want to see these two fight? A lot…Actually an awful lot! Both teams will need to make it to the Finals for that to happen though. Neutrals will be keeping the fingers crossed for that one.
Ovidiu Berceanu took on Temirtas Zhussupov of the visiting Arlans at Light Flyweight in what turned out to be a straight forward affair for the visiting team with the Kazakh winning every single round on all three judges’ score cards. This was his first win in the WSB, taking him to 1-1. Berceanu meanwhile slips badly into the negative at 0-3.
Ireland’s Michael Conlan put in a stunning performance at Bantamweight for Team Germany against Meirbolat Toitov. The highly rated Kazakh boxer came into the bout with a 4-1 record against Conlan’s 1-1 record. What that didn’t show of course was that Conlan also managed to bag a bronze medal at the London 2012 Olympic Games and his only loss in the WSB comes to fellow Celt, double World silver medallist and 2011 European Champion Andrew Selby of Wales (and the Dolce & Gabbana Italia Thunder), and that bout was extremely close. Thus (as the Irish are fond of saying) Conlan “put manners” on the Kazakh, winning by a comprehensive points margin.
Coming up next
Team Germany claim that the team they are sending to Kazakhstan is even stronger than the squad that competed today. If that is true, then today’s result has kept the door open for the return leg next weekend. But Kazakhstan is a difficult away venue to get results in, with the Arlans fans having turned Almaty into something of a fortress this season.