After an exciting Regular Season and thrilling Play-Offs we are speaking to WSB CEO Mr Karim Bouzidi on all things WSB, the teams, the boxers and what the upcoming Season VI will have on offer.
Karim, the WSB Regular Season V saw differing results at the top and bottom of each group as Cuba Domadores and Astana Arlans Kazakhstan both achieved incredible results, while Argentina Condors and Algeria Desert Hawks suffered the opposite. Is WSB a well-balanced league, or there are first and second division teams?
There is no doubt that the numbers show a lot of difference between teams like Cuba and teams like Algeria or Argentina, but the statistics do not always tell the whole story. I sincerely think that all the teams in our competition are competitive, and we work hard to achieve that. Our Foreign Draft is a balanced mechanism where the lowest performing teams in the previous campaign can select the best boxers for the new season.
We also need to remember that we are talking about two countries in Argentina and Algeria that both have a strong tradition and proven boxing quality. If two teams like that are struggling to win matches, it shows the overall quality of the World Series of Boxing.
There was two amazing derbies in the Semi Finals as Cuba won 10-0 against Mexico Guerreros in Havana, and Kazakhstan earned an impressive 9-1 victory against Russian Boxing Team. What did you make of the matches?
The competition this year gave us two excellent clashes between four of the strongest boxing nations in the world. Cuba, Kazakhstan, Mexico and Russia each carry a significant reputation when you talk about this sport, and despite the results of the Semi Finals, we saw the best boxing ever in WSB.
All of the fans in Havana enjoyed the victory of their team in a full arena, and the entire world watched nine tremendous bouts where the Mexican team gave their all. The only shame was the Carlos Mina walkover loss in Leg 2, as I wanted to see the reaction of the home star Julio Cesar la Cruz against the Ecuadorian who had already defeated him in Havana during the Regular Season.
In Astana we witnessed the epic moment of Russia and Kazakhstan fighting for a place in the Final. There was much to enjoy, with the return of Ivan Dychko, the performance of AIBA World Boxing Champion Daniyar Yeleussinov, and the untouchable Vasilii Levit achieving his eighth victory this Season.
Overall, we are very happy and proud of the level that all WSB boxers showed in the Semi Finals.
What are your thoughts regarding the Season V Finals between Cuba Domadores and Astana Arlans Kazakhstan?
After watching the Regular Season and the Semi Finals, everybody knows that we have the best two teams in the Finals. Cuba is still undefeated, and Kazakhstan only suffered one loss in the last match of the Regular Season.
They are also the last two WSB Champions, as Astana Arlans were crowned in WSB Season III after an excellent victory over Ukraine Otamans in the Finals, while Cuba Domadores are the current Champions.
It will be one of the best boxing matches our fans have ever seen.
This Season, the Olympic Qualification caused a lot of teams to change their strategy with more goals than to just win matches for the Franchise. How does this situation affect a competition like WSB?
WSB offered 17 quotas for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games this year, which is the biggest and most prestigious sporting competition in the world. This was very important for us, and we saw the most exciting Season ever with 16 teams and more than 500 boxers fighting not only to win the World Series of Boxing trophy, but also to earn a quota in the next Olympic Games.
From their beginning in WSB, Cuba Domadores has been exceptional, winning their debut season and finishing the Regular Season of Season V undefeated. Can anybody end the Cuban superiority?
Cuba has fulfilled the expectations that all boxing fans had placed upon them since their first appearance in the WSB family. They provide a lot of quality and talent to the competition, and that is exactly where we want to be.
If a team wants to defeat Cuba, they have to take a step forward and show that they are better than the Cubans. This will make the competition stronger, and it means we will have more talent and more quality.
The Competition has grown from 12 to 16 teams keeping the same structure with two groups. What can we expect for the next Season?
It was a pleasure for us to host three new countries, and also to see the return of the UK and China. WSB fans enjoyed the boxing tradition of Puerto Rico and especially their young hope Jeyvier Cintron, the Venezuelan passion which saw thousands of fans supporting each match, and the Moroccan class including the recently voted Boxer of the Season, Mohammed Rabii.
We can’t deny that there is a global interest in our competition, and a lot of countries want to be part of the WSB family, but our main goal is to continue offer the best boxing to our fans. For this reason, we make a rigorous selection before each decision that we take. We are the only world team boxing competition, and we want to continue offering the best boxing in the world.
Last year AIBA launched a new competition format, AIBA Pro Boxing. What is the relationship between both competitions?
All of the AIBA family is very happy with AIBA Pro Boxing. The goal of the International Boxing Federation is to support the boxers during their entire career, and APB is another step to achieve this goal.
APB and WSB are two different competitions which are not in competition with each other, and both are stronger because of it. We all work together, and now we can say that AIBA has the best boxers in the world, as we have Olympic Champions, WSB Team Champions and also APB World Champions.