Defending World Series of Boxing champions Astana Arlans Kazakhstan began the defence of their title in style on Friday night, defeating Azerbaijan Baku Fires 4-1 in the Kazakh city of Karaganda.
Light flyweight star Temirtas Zhussupov got the hosts off to a strong start against WSB debutant Javid Dadashov in the evening’s opening bout. The 28 year-old was faster than his young opponent, never letting up his intensity until the final bell, and a unanimous decision from the judges gave Arlans the lead.
Their two-time WSB champion Meirbolat Toitov then doubled the advantage, narrowly beating the aggressive Iarash Magomedov in a gripping encounter. The 2-0 lead took the pressure off Arlans’ own debutant Yerkin Mukhametzhan, in for the injured Vassiliy Levit, up against the strong southpaw Haji Murtazaliyev. After a nervy start, Mukhametzhan landed a dangerous body blow in the third round and began to grow in stature, taking the judges’ decision and securing the Arlans their first win of Season VI.
Astana Arlans Kazakhstan’s team captain Samat Bashenov unfortunately could not enter the line up, with Askhat Ualikhanov deputising against Baku Fires’ London 2012 Olympian you Gaybatulla Gadzhialiyev. The Azeri proved the stronger boxer over five rounds, notching the Fires’ an important first victory of the new season against the reigning champions.
Kazakhstan controlled the final bout of the match to seal a comfortable victory, with National Champion Meirim Nursultanov proving exactly why he is going to be one to watch this year, defeating Baku Fires’ Georgian boxer Badri Khardzhiani in emphatic fashion to give the Arlans a precious 4-1 win over their great rivals.