The World Series of Boxing (WSB) began its Season V with a superb night of action in London, as a packed York Hall enjoyed five world class bouts between two returning Franchises, the home team British Lionhearts, and the travelling China Dragons.
After five engrossing fights, the Lionhearts were victorious, winning the evening 3-2 on aggregate.
It was the Dragons however who started the night off successfully, as 2014 China Open Tournament silver medalist He Junjun defeated Commonwealth Games bronze medalist Ashley Williams at Light flyweight (49 kg).
The dominance of the Chinese star was surprising, as he clearly won all of the first three rounds, and though Williams improved as the fight progressed, Junjun won a unanimous decision 48:47, 49:46 and 50:44.
Bantamweight (56 kg) Qais Ashfaq made it 1-1 on the night in match number two, winning by split decision over Diao Jianhao.
Jianhao was dominant early, taking the first two rounds on the majority of the scorecards, but Ashfaq showed great resilience and heart to mount an unlikely comeback, and his rhythm improved massively as he grew more comfortable.
The final verdict was Ashfaq winning by a single round 48:47 according to two judges, while the third gave every round to Jianhao 50:45.
Sam Maxwell’s previous WSB experience came in very handy in his Light welterweight (64 kg) fight against Sairike Tuoliaowutayi, as his knowledge of the longer format saw him mix up his style, utilising his great jab to much success in addition to showcasing some flashy combination punching.
Such was the intensity of his work, one judge gave three 10:8 rounds to the Englishman en route to a 50:41 card, while the other two judges saw it slightly closer, although still gave Tuoliaowutayi no rounds, with 50:44 scorecards.
AIBA World Championships bronze medalist Anthony Fowler took his overall WSB record to 2-0, although his Middleweight (75 kg) bout with 2014 Asian Games quarter-finalist Zhou Di was halted towards the end of the third rounds due to a head injury suffered by Fowler caused by an accidental clash of heads.
As per WSB regulations, the fight was stopped and the scorecards up to that moment were referenced in terms of a result, with Fowler the winner after almost three rounds of excellent boxing, as two judges rewarded the Englishman with 30:26 cards, while the third had it closer 29:28.
By the time of the last fight of the night, the Lionhearts had won the match, but there was still much to play for as every single bout carries significance regarding the WSB table.
In a unique contest which showcased the international flavour of the competition, Croatia’s Heavyweight (91 kg) Josip Bepo Filipi representing China Dragons ensured the Franchise would enjoy some momentum going into their next fixture, by outpointing Romania’s Ionut-Mirel Jitaru representing the Lionhearts.
It was a comfortable victory for Filipi who won 50:45, and 49:46 twice to confirm that the first match of WSB Season V finished 3-2 to the British Lionhearts.