The draw of the fifth season of WSB placed Argentina Condors in Group B. The gaucho team will test their strength against the current runner-up of the competition, Azerbaijan Baku Fires, as well as with the champions of the second season, Italia Thunder, and of the third season, Astana Arlans Kazakhstan. To make things even more complicated, fans of WSB will witness a South American derby between the Condors and the new powerful franchise of Venezuela. We spoke with the General Manager of the Argentinian team Hernán Salvo about his impressions on the group line-up.
Mr. Salvo, how do you find your group?
I feel we are in a tough group, but it is like this in the World Series. We have to face Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan and Italy, who maybe might be slightly diminished as Russo, Picardi and Valentino will not be present.
And what do your boxers feel about the draw?
They have the same feeling as last season. The World Series is an elite competition, so irrespective of which group you are drawn into, you know that you need to be really well prepared. Another key aspect to take into account is the journeys and the distances. I think that being drawn into Group A would have been difficult with long journeys to Russia, Ukraine and China. Being in Group B, with trips to our continent like Mexico or the USA will help us.
Who do you think will be the rivals to beat?
We are conscious that Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan will play the first roles. Obviously, we need to pay attention to Italy and what kind of team they will build. We are already familiar with Venezuela from continental matches and it is a strong team, with boxers full of experience, including some we have faced as part of the USA franchise last year as well as in Mexico. It will be a difficult season as I do not think there is one big rival to beat, but all of them. This also includes Poland who will certainly want to play better to qualify for the Play-Off as they did in the third season.
What do you expect from the new Venezuelan franchise?
I am sure that it will be a very competitive franchise. I know how their general manager Fran López works. He has had very good boxers and an experienced team for a few Olympic cycles now. I am sure that it will be a very tough rival especially when we will have to travel there in the fifth week.
To face Azerbaijan Baku Fires, Italia Thunder and Astana Arlans in a year of Olympic qualification could be a double-edged sword for your boxers?
Taking into account that the calendar is long and that every boxer could participate in up to seven fights, I think that we will need to work a lot on the strategy. For instance you could put your faith in a particular boxer you are expecting to help you qualify and not use him for away matches in Baku, Astana or Italy and keep him fresh for home matches or to face a rival you consider less experienced. I think that strategy will play a vital role here.
What are the objectives for this fifth season of the World Series?
The objective is mostly based on the individuals and to have numerous boxers at the Olympic Games. We count on the support of our Olympic Committee and we will do our best to qualify as many boxers as we can, independently of the programme in which they participate, APB, WSB or AOB. We need to work well with the strategy and have some luck to achieve this.