The second leg of the World Series of Boxing (WSB) Season V Finals between Astana Arlans Kazakhstan and Cuba Domadores will take place on Sunday 21 June at 17:30 (GMT+6) in Astana, Kazakhstan, and fans will be able to follow the action LIVE and FREE on www.aibaboxingtv.com.
Kazakhstan head into the second leg with a 3-2 lead after the first night of action, and know that if they win three of the first five fixtures in this match, they will achieve their second WSB Championship.
Defending Champions Cuba will be reeling from last night’s defeat, but their strong second leg squad contains multi-time AIBA World Champions and Olympic gold medalists, who are all eager to claim a second consecutive title. for Cuba.
A crucial Flyweight (52 kg) battle will open the action in Astana, as Kazakhstan’s Olzhas Sattibayev (4-1 in Season V, 4-2 overall) meets undefeated Cuban sensation Yosbany Veitia (15-0 in WSB).
Sattibayev has been boxing for over half of his life, and the 27-year-old has enjoyed a very successful season with victories over Hamza Touba, Carlos Ascanio, Murad Rabadanov and Karen Arutyunyan.
The Kazakh athlete is a veteran of the big occasion, having won four prestigious tournaments in 2014.
He faces a hugely difficult match against Yosbany Veitia however, as the Cuban has been one of the greatest boxers of the entire competition over the past two years, and finished top of the Flyweight rankings at the end of the group stages.
The current Cuban National Champion is a highly decorated competitor who won a bronze medal at the 2013 AIBA World Championships, while his elegant style is a perfect fit for the WSB format.
This is a true battle of ruggedness and heart vs pure natural talent, and the disciplined Sattibayev will seek to decode the unrivaled footwork of his decorated Cuban opponent.
Veitia will know Cuba need to get off to a successful start in the second leg, so will use of his ability and guile to dominate the match.
Kazakh Lightweight (60 kg) Zakir Safiullin (2-3 in Season V) lost three of his first four matches in the Regular Season, but bounced back with a terrific win in the semi-final over tough Russian Artur Subkhankulov.
His rival in Astana will be Lazaro Alvarez (8-0 in Season V, 14-1 overall), who topped the Lightweight rankings after seven group stage wins, earning himself a Rio 2016 Olympic Games quota in the process.
A two-time AIBA World Champion, Alvarez is an entertaining boxer who is equally confident fighting off the back or front foot, and the Cuban has successfully emerged through many tricky bouts this season.
Safiullin will be a difficult opponent to defeat, with the intelligent two-time Kazakh National Champion mentally strong, and very popular in Kazakhstan.
London 2012 Olympic Games gold medalist and former AIBA World Champion Roniel Iglesias Sotolongo (5-2 in Season V, 10-2 overall) surprisingly lost twice in early stages of Season V to the top ranked Mohamed Rabii and Radzhab Butayev, but the 26-year-old finished the group stages with a brace of victories, and provided another scintillating performance against Hector Andres Reyes in the semi-final.
Sotolongo won his first Cuban National Championships at just 16-years-old, and has consistently performed at a world class level since then.
The Welterweight (69 kg) offers superb stamina, accurate attacking skills and a constantly progressive defence, yet he will need to be at his very best to defeat Kazakh prospect Aslanbek Shymbergenov (2-1 in Season V) in the third match of the evening.
Shymbergenov is the current Kazakh National Champion, who enjoyed excellent tournament victories last year in the Kazakh Federation Team Cup Finals, and the Bocskai Memorial Tournament.
Tall for the weight, Shymbergenov has relentless energy which puts immense pressure on his in-ring rivals, with his jab another particularly impressive weapon.
Astana Arlans Light Heavyweight (81 kg) Nurdaulet Zharmanov (0-1 in Season V) lost his debut WSB match in the semi-final, but he is a tremendously talented fighter with many strong attributes.
Unfortunately for the 24-year-old, his second appearance in this competition will come against two-time AIBA World Champion and Julio Cesar La Cruz (7-1 in Season V, 12-2 overall).
The Cuban stylist is blessed with swift footwork, sharp power and plenty of swagger, which can often intimidate opponents when they cannot get into their own rhythm.
La Cruz is as good or better in the fifth round of fights as he is at the very beginning, and the imposing Domadore is seeking his 13th WSB victory on the grandest stage of them all.
Zharmanov will work tenaciously to ensure that doesn’t happen, and it is crucial that he starts the fight with plenty of pressure, otherwise he may become overwhelmed by the complete ability of La Cruz.
The last officially scheduled match of the WSB Finals will take place at Super Heavyweight (91+ kg) between two fighters who have barely featured this season.
It took two-time AIBA World Championships medalist and London 2012 Olympic Games bronze medalist Ivan Dychko (1-0 in Season V) until the Season V semi-final to make his WSB debut, and the Kazakh more than made up for lost time as he stopped Russia’s Ruslan Shamalov in the second round of their match.
His Finals opponent was expected to be Lenier Eunice Pero who has been Cuba’s sole Super Heavyweight throughout this entire campaign, but he has been replaced by Yohandi Toirac (2-1 overall) who makes a first appearance of the season in what could be a must-win match.
20-year-old Toirac is a former Cuban National Champion who carries plenty of power in both hands, but Levit too has dynamite in each fist, with an experience level far superior to his young Domadore rival.
A lifelong fan of cinema, Levit will be hoping for a dream Hollywood ending for Astan Arlans as they bid to win their second WSB title, but Toirac carries the hopes of his decorated boxing nation on his broad shoulders, which will make him work as hard as possible to enable the team secures a second successive Championship.
If the scores are level at the end of the match, a Sudden Death tiebreaker match will occur at Bantamweight (56 kg) between Meirbolat Toitov (4-0 in Season V, 8-2 overall) and Andy Cruz Gomez (5-0 in Season V).