An excellent World Series of Boxing (WSB) clash takes place this weekend between Caciques Venezuela and Italia Thunder.
The Venezuelan Franchise have excelled in their first WSB season, winning four of their five home matches and producing many excellent moments across the campaign.
Italy has won three of their last four matches, and are third in the Group B table, three points ahead of Venezuela.
Only the top three teams in the group will reach the knockout stages of the competition, so Venezuela need to win their penultimate match of the Regular Season to overtake the Italians.
As well as the high stakes for both teams in this fixture, three members of the Italia Thunder team are also heavily in contention to earn a qualification quota for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, so all need to win their last match of the group stages.
Estadio Polideportivo José María Vargas, Maiquetía is the venue for this Group B clash, where on Saturday 18th April fans across the world can watch the action free, live and on demand from 20:00 (GMT -4.5) at AIBABoxingTV.com.
Ireland’s Patrick Barnes has dominated the Light flyweight (49 kg) division in WSB this season, and is ranked number one in the weight class after six consecutive victories for Italy.
With one match to go, Barnes is two points ahead of nearest rival Hasanboy Dusmatov which means all he has to do in Maiquetía is win on points and he will finish in the number one position.
Only one Light flyweight will earn a Rio quota, which makes success in Venezuela essential for the Irish star.
That could be a difficult task however, as his opponent is Venezuela’s sixth ranked Yoel Finol who has won four matches this season, and has not dropped a single round in his last three contests.
Barnes has won five of his six bouts via points, including in his three away appearances, while Finol is undefeated at home in Venezuela.
This is a difficult match to predict as both boxers have excellent skills and boast the ability to control fights, but Barnes needs to win this contest, and that fact could mean the two-time Olympic medalist has the edge in the fight.
Michael Conlan is an Irish international teammate of Barnes, and a fellow member of Italia Thunder where he has amassed a 4-2 record across Season V.
The 2012 Olympic bronze medalist is currently fourth in the Bantamweight (56 kg) rankings, and with two quotas available, the Irish competitor has to rely on the failures of those above him in order to secure a top two finish.
He also has to defeat Venezuela’s 2-3 José Vicente Azocar away from home, which will be a tough mission as Azocar has won two of his last three matches.
5-1 Italian Vincenzo Mangiacapre is the third Thunder fighter in contention to earn an Olympic quota, and the second ranked Light welterweight (64 kg) fights 2-3 Luis Arcón this week.
Mangiacapre lost his opening match of the season to Gaybatulla Gadzhialiyev, but has since won five bouts in a row against tough opposition including Kazakhstan’s Askhat Ualikhanov and USA’s Tra-Kwon Pettis.
The Italian is remarkably assured in the ring, with 30 completed rounds in WSB this season which means he will be sharp in this bout.
Arcón is undefeated at home in WSB, achieving two wins including a stoppage success over Poland’s Damian Tadeusz Kiwior.
This will be a very entertaining bout, and Mangiacapre will be wary to commit too much knowing that Arcón carries power.
A Middleweight (75 kg) contest follows between 0-1 Cacique Nalek Rachid Korbaj Barrerra and Italy’s 2-2 Salvatore Cavallaro who has lost both of his away matches in this campaign.
The evening finishes at Heavyweight (91 kg) where home star Alfonso Flores returns after stopping Gabriel Richards two weeks ago against Italian debutant Giuseppe Claudio Squeo.