The first leg of the World Series of Boxing (WSB) semi-finals between Russian Boxing Team and Cuba Domadores took place in Moscow, with the Cubans narrowly winning the night 3-2. The second leg was held at Ciudad Deportiva in Havana, giving Cuba home advantage.
The Domadores have been exceptional at home in their debut season, and this contest proved no different, as they won all five matches, with an aggregate score of 8-2 over the two legs. This result sees them through to the final, where they will face either Astana Arlans Kazakhstan, or Azerbaijan Baku Fires.
The Flyweights (52kg), Lightweights (60kg), Welterweights (69kg), Light Heavyweights (81kg) and Heavyweights (91kg) contested this match.
Leodan Nunez started the night off right for Cuba against the Russian Ovik Ogannisian, both of whom have only fought once previously in WSB.
The Flyweights are always entertaining, and this was another engrossing contest that delighted the watching crowd. Both boxers were fast and highly skilled, and Ogannisian must have thought he had a great chance to win the fight.
The pace never dropped, but Nunez just had too much quality, and he won the fight on all three scorecards.
Bout of the match
The two-time AIBA World Championship gold medallist, and the number one ranked Lightweight in WSB Lazaro Alvarez was involved in an excellent fight in his contest against Russia’s Konstantin Bogomazov.
This was the second contest of the evening, and after Cuba had won the first bout, it was a crucial fight for both teams to either assert even more dominance in Cuba’s case, or try and get back in the match for Russia.
It was the beauty of Alvarez’s boxing that won the contest for the Cuban however. He knocked Bogomazov down towards the end of the first round, with a fierce right hand.
To the credit of Bogomazov however, he never gave up in the contest, and shook off the knockdown to last all five rounds, staying competitive throughout. The Russian even won the last round, which is a testament to his heart and desire.
Ultimately it was the hand of Alvarez that was raised, winning via unanimous decision.
Boxer of the match
Julio Cesar La Cruz is a two-time AIBA World Champion at Light Heavyweight, and has three WSB wins this season resulting in his number one ranking.
He came up against Aleksander Khotyantsev, who was making only his second WSB appearance of the season. La Cruz was terrific, showing his cat-like reflexes, dynamic footwork, and spiteful punching, winning near enough every minute of every round.
Khotyantsev tried hard, and never gave up on the contest, but all too often he was punching only fresh air, and when La Cruz really turned it on in the last round, there was little he could do.
La Cruz won all five rounds on all three scorecards, and improved his WSB record this season to 4-1.
The turning point
With Cuba winning 3-2 in Moscow, they only needed to win three matches at home in order to qualify for the finals.
After Cuba won the first two matches of the night, all the pressure was on Russia’s Andrei Zamkovoi, who fought Cuba’s Roniel Iglesias Sotolongo, the third-ranked boxer at Welterweight.
This was a contest of two medallists from the London 2012 Olympic Games, and was a high quality fight as expected.
Zamkovoi was very competitive, with his left hand a constant weapon, but his Cuban opponent was always that little bit sharper, and offered the more eye-catching punches throughout the contest, which resulted in a unanimous decision win for the Cuban, and a guaranteed place in the final for his Cuba Domadores team.
The last bout of the evening was a Heavyweight clash between Cuba’s Jose Angel Larduet who took on Russia’s Magomed Omarov.
Omarov was making his WSB debut, but looked composed and cool in the ring. Larduet was making his third appearance of the season, and after his team had won the previous four fights, he gave it his all.
The Cuban went on to win the fight via a split decision, resulting in a 5-0 whitewash victory for the Cubans.
Coming up next
Cuba Domadores are now heading to the finals of WSB, a remarkable achievement in their debut season. They will take on either Astana Arlans Kazakhstan, or Azerbaijan Baku Fires in the final.