Season V of the World Series of Boxing (WSB) provides an unprecedented opportunity for boxers to achieve individual qualification for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
As WSB boxers retain their Olympic eligibility, the road to Rio 2016 Olympic Games is paved with possible gold for the competitors, with a quota of 17 places up for grabs throughout the competition, while this number was only five before the London 2012 Olympic Games.
Categories from 52kg to 81kg will be granted two quotas each, while 49kg, 91kg and +91kg will each be granted one quota. The magnitude of this opportunity has not been lost on the Franchises, who are all training with intense discipline to make Season V the most entertaining, enthralling and important edition to date.
In Group B, former winners and future hopefuls will challenge for success, and with four teams from Europe, two from North America, plus two South American Franchises included, the global aspect of WSB is represented fully.
South America has been home to many of the greatest boxers of all time, and Argentina Condors, fresh off their second season of WSB action, are looking to establish themselves as the dominant Franchise from their continent in Season V.
To accomplish that goal, they will have to perform better than the new Franchise from Venezuela, who according to many boxing insiders are amassing an impressive squad for the upcoming season.
The two South American boxing giants will meet each other in week five, and week 12 of the season, and both will be hoping they will be in position to progress into the knock-out stages of the competition come the end of the group stage.
One franchise who will be confident of getting out of the group will be Azerbaijan Baku Fires, who lost the engrossing WSB Season IV Final against the sublime Cuba Domadores, by the narrowest of margins.
The Baku Fires will be looking to go one further in Season V, and they have the knowledge and awareness of how to successfully negotiate their way through the group stages in order to reach the latter stages of the tournament.
Astana Arlans Kazakhstan were eliminated by Azerbaijan in Season IV, but the two Franchises struck up a kinship after their hard fought semi-finals contest.
Many WSB teams would be delighted with a semi-final finish, but as the Season III champions, Kazakhstan will be looking to go all the way again this time around.
In order to fulfill their hopes, they will have to beat the big teams, and their matches with Azerbaijan in week three and week 10 will be keenly awaited by WSB fans.
Italia Thunder have been one of the most successful Franchises in WSB history, and the flamboyant team have one of the finest squads in the entire competition.
After winning Season II, the Italians have failed to reach the semi-finals stage in the last two seasons, and they have a difficult start to life in Group B.
Their season starts with two tough away matches, firstly against Azerbaijan, and then they face USA Knockouts in week two.
The Knockouts reached the quarter-final stage last season, before running into the dominant Cuba Domadores, and the American side will at least want to replicate their accomplishments in Season V.
They will have to work hard to maintain their supremacy as the North American leaders of WSB, as one of the best boxing nations in the world joins WSB, with Puerto Rico looking to produce a hurricane over the competition.
Six of Puerto Rico’s eight medals in their Olympic Games history belong to boxers, and this Caribbean island, with a population of just over 3.5 million people, boasts the highest index in terms of World Boxing Champions per capita on the planet, statistics that their WSB fighters will use to spur them on to possible glory in the competition.
Completing the group at this moment will be Hussars Poland, who will be looking to forget their disappointing season last year, and concentrate on improving their talented squad even further.
The Polish team have great durability and courage, and they will seek to turn their resilience and willing into results and wins, starting with their first week match away against Puerto Rico.
WSB Season V starts on Thursday 15th January 20.00 GMT at London’s legendary York Hall with British Lionhearts taking on China Dragons, followed up by seven epic clashes on Friday 16th and Saturday 17th January.