Thursday evening’s World Series of Boxing Season VI Group B curtain-raiser in Miami between two great boxing nations was always going to be an emotional affair, but at the final bell it was the British Lionhearts who took a morale-boosting first away win and left USA Knockouts reeling.
The Lionhearts got off to a strong start with European Confederation Championship silver medallist Harvey Horn managing to jab his way past US National Olympic Trials champion Nico Hernandez. Horn dominated the opening exchanges of their light flyweight bout and Hernandez’ late rally wasn’t enough to sway the judges, giving the visitors a 1-0 lead.
It wasn’t long before the Knockouts had drawn level on the night, their 2014 Youth Olympic Games winner Shakur Stevenson putting in an incredible display on his WSB debut to defeat rival Peter McGrail. Unbeaten at Youth and Junior level, the 20 year-old American bantamweight’s confidence was running high, landing a series of left hooks and uppercuts for which McGrail could find no answer.
The third contest of the night between another US Olympic Trial champion, the light welterweight Gary Russell, and Lionhearts’ Pat McCormack was a gripping affair, with Russell looking by far the more composed in the opening rounds. In a spectacular turnaround, McCormack was able to frustrate his opponent’s attacking instincts and took the final three rounds, lifting his team into a 2-1 lead.
Again the US got back on level terms, with Charles Conwell winning his middleweight bout against Troy Williamson and setting up a nail-biting heavyweight decider between Knockouts’ top boxer Cam F. Awesome and Lionhearts’ newcomer Lawrence Okolie, who only put his gloves on for the first time in 2010.
Awesome looked to have adjusted well to his move down from super heavyweight and was too fast for WSB debutant Okolie in the first round but the young British talent grew in confidence as he stopped Awesome’s waves of attacks, and eventually his heavy-hitting style gave a sensational Technical Knockout win to the British Lionhearts.