Italia Thunder host Astana Arlans Kazakhstan in hugely significant WSB clash

One of the highlights of the last week in the Regular Season of the World Series of Boxing (WSB) is a hugely significant clash between Italia Thunder and Astana Arlans Kazakhstan.

Italy are currently third in the Group B table and in the last qualification spot for the knock-out stages, but they are only a single point ahead of Caciques Venezuela which makes this a must win contest.

Kazakhstan have won all 13 of their matches so far this season, and have lost just 11 times in 65 legs which has resulted in the Franchise qualifying directly through to the semi-finals due to their unassailable lead at the top of the group.

Additionally, there are also huge Olympic Games ramifications for some of the boxers competing in this fixture, including a shootout at Light heavyweight (81 kg) where the winner will earn a quota for Rio 2016 next year.

Centro Sportivo Italcementi, Bergamo is the venue for this Group B clash, where on Saturday 25th April fans across the world can watch the action free, live and on demand from 20:30 (GMT +2) at AIBABoxingTV.com.

The top two ranked Light heavyweights compete against each other in Bergamo, knowing that it is unlikely that both of them will still be in the top two come the end of the WSB weekend.

Italy’s number one ranked Valentino Manfredonia is 6-0 this season, with five points wins and a memorable TKO victory over Puerto Rico’s Davey Vega bolstering that enviable record.

Three of Manfredonia’s last four wins have come at home, which will give him confidence heading into his fight with second ranked Croatian Hrvoje Sep who has also won all six of his contests in Season V.

Sep is two points behind Manfredonia due to two of his victories coming via split decision, but a win for the Astana Arlans representative will take him above Manfredonia and into the number one position.

Two Olympic quotas are available from the weight class, but both boxers will be aware of third ranked Cuban Julio Cesar La Cruz who competes on Friday night, who will temporarily go to the top spot in the weight class if he wins.

Predicting a winner in this contest is difficult because neither man has many obvious weaknesses.

The home support for Manfredonia may help his elegant style, while despite six victories, it’s arguable that Sep has not found top form in WSB this season, and if the best version of the Croatian appears in Italy we could be in for one of the greatest matches of the season.

Another Croatian on the cusp of an Olympic quota is Filip Hrgovic, who has excelled for Astana Arlans Kazakhstan throughout this campaign.

One of the greatest boxers in the history of WSB, Hrgovic has won all six of his matches in Season V including four TKO stoppages.

Hrgovic is ranked first at Super heavyweight (91+ kg) which is a hugely important position as just one fighter will earn a Rio 2016 quota from the weight class.

Any type of win will do for the Croatian, but he will have defeat reigning Italian Champion Alessio Spahiu to confirm his number one ranking.

Spahiu beat Poland’s Roger Hryniuk two weeks ago, and will be full of confidence despite facing a WSB legend.

The action opens in Bergamo at Flyweight (52 kg) when India’s Gaurav Bidhuri meets Kazakhstan’s 1-0 Miras Zhakupov.

An intriguing Lightweight (60 kg) clash follows as 1-1 Italian Donato Cosenza battles 1-0 Roman Chshegrinov, while 1-0 Irish Welterweight (69 kg) Adam Nolan makes his second appearance of the season for the Thunder against 1-1 Aslanbek Shymbergenov.