Ahead of this weekend’s World Series of Boxing (WSB) Season V Finals between Astana Arlans Kazakhstan and defending Champions Cuba Domadores, WSB caught up with Ron Lewis, Boxing Correspondent for The Times to get his thoughts on the season so far, and his prediction for the Finals.
Cuba Domadores have performed perfectly in Season V, with sixteen consecutive wins. What have you made of the Cubans this season?
I have been very impressed. When you look at the boxers they have in the team, they’ve got an incredibly strong squad. The team is very well suited to WSB, they’re not a developing side of kids, instead they’re established international boxers. The foundation is there to begin another great generation of Cuban boxing success.
Has there been a Cuban boxer in particular who has impressed you?
Yasnier Toledo. Whoever he is in the ring with is often on a hiding to nothing because he usually wins every fight he has. He could be a professional World Champion within four of five fights, he’s that good.
What makes Astana Arlans Kazakhstan such formidable opposition in the Finals?
Kazakhstan have many good fighters in the team who are all incredibly tough as well. The squad is very thorough, and have boxed with each other for a long time.
Which Astana Arlans fighter has been your favourite to watch?
Croatian Super Heavyweight (91+ kg) Filip Hrgovic who grabbed the Rio 2016 Olympic Games quota. He was a very good fighter in the past, and has improved even more this season.
Why do you think Cuba and Kazakhstan have been so successful?
With ten weight divisions in WSB, the teams that come out on top are the ones which are able to put a system in place. The Domadores have just Cuban fighters, while the majority of the Astana Arlans team are from Kazakhstan.
Have you got a prediction for the Finals? And is there one match which you are most looking forward to?
I believe Cuba will win, I don’t think it will be 10-0, but I think they can do it. The standout match should be between undefeated Heavyweights Vasiliy Levit and Erislandy Savon. In any form of boxing, that looks sensational.
Apart from Cuba and Kazakhstan, who has impressed you in Season V?
One thing that has been very interesting this season has been the success of Mexico Guerreros and how solid they were.
You covered the British Lionhearts throughout the Regular Season in their return to WSB. How do you think they performed?
It’s difficult to say, I thought some of the boxers were a little unlucky in some fights. They were a quickly put together team though, so think they’ll learn from the experience in the long-term. The new WSB TV deal with BoxNation could help build more interest in the team.
Finally, what do you most enjoy about WSB?
It’s such a high quality, and the matches are very evenly made which shines through. You don’t often see a poor contest because you have to be of a very high standard to compete. With next season being an Olympic year, that will add excited excitement as well.