After a controlled and powerful first leg of the World Series of Boxing (WSB) Clash of Champions, WSB Season IV winners must have felt confident enough ahead of a second leg against WSB Season III Champions Astana Arlans Kazakhstan.
Although their 4-1 lead from the first leg was enough for Cuba to win the Clash of Champions 6-4 on aggregate, it was Astana Arlans who took revenge in the second night of action winning it 3 to 2.
Kazakhstan’s night started with one of the biggest surprises in WSB history.
Yosbany Veitia won all nine of his WSB contests last season at Light Flyweight, and though he was making his debut at Flyweight (52 kg), few expected him to be seriously troubled by Kazakhstan’s experienced Miras Zhakupov.
Although Veitia started the fight off well, and won the first round, it was Zhakupov who improved from then on, surprising his previously undefeated opponent with sharp skills and ring savvy.
After the final bell had been rung, Zhakupov claimed the surprising win via unanimous decision, and set the benchmark for his teammates during the rest of the evening.
Cuba Domadores were lucky to have Lazaro Alvarez in action for the second fight of the evening, and he produced a master class from the off against Astana’s game, but ultimately outclassed Roman Shegrinov.
Alvarez is one of the best Lightweights (60 kg) in the world, and you can see why he won six WSB matches last season, as he dominated every single round against Shegrinov, including a 10:8 score from one judge in the fourth round, and causing a standing count in the fifth.
Shegrinov is a tough competitor whose desire never wilted, and it will be interesting to see how he gets on in Season V.
The biggest grudge match of the evening came in fight three, with Cuba’s Julio Cesar La Cruz taking on Croatia’s Astana Arlans representative Hrvoje Sep.
These two Light Heavyweights (81 kg) met last season, with the Cuban a narrow victor, and both men talked big in the build up to their rematch here.
It was the Cuban who won again this time around, but this time in a far more dominant fashion, as he danced around the ring for five rounds, displaying excellent defence and impressive cardio, against the aggressive, but ultimately beaten Sep.
The two men hugged at the end, displaying the true fighting spirit of boxing.
Losing 2-1 on the night, Kazakhstan needed a boost in the fourth fight, and they certainly got it.
While Yosbany Veitia’s loss to Miras Zhakupov came as a surprise, Zhakupov had at least boasted a great WSB record going into the contest.
Olympic and AIBA World Champion Welterweight (69 kg) Roniel Iglesias Sotolongo had won all five of his WSB fights coming into the Clash of Champions, and was competing against less titled Madiyar Ashkeyev.
Despite the disparity in experience, medals and WSB record between the two boxers, it was Ashkeyev who started the fight off the better, winning the first round, and continuing to impress as the fight progressed.
Although one judge saw Sotolongo winning by a point, two other judges awarded the fight to Ashkeyev who won with a career making performance.
Going into the final round 2-2, Astana Arlans had just the man to finish the job off, with the Heavyweight Filip Hrgovic fighting Cuba’s young Super Heavyweight (+91kg) Yoandi Toirac.
Toirac is definitely one for the future, but Hrgovic seems to be the finished article already, and he won the first four rounds comfortably, dropping Toirac heavily at the end of the fourth.
Although the Cuban bravely came out to fight at the start of the fifth, a heavy punch from Hrgovic staggered his rival, and the referee stopped the contest before the first minute of the last round.
Watch the entire Clash of Champions below.