After getting WSB Season VI off to a winning start against China Dragons in Week 1, Türkiye Conquerors will be hoping to repeat the perfomance against Group A favourites Cuba Domadores on Saturday night. Winning the last three bouts of their opening match will have left the Conquerors high on confidence while for the Domadores, unbeaten in the group stage last season, this will be a testing opening fixture in Istanbul.
The Cubans made their WSB debut in style back in Season IV, winning the team title in emphatic fashion. Only the tough Astana Arlans were able to halt them in the last match of Season V, and underlining their stature, seven of the squad have already qualified for Rio 2016, two of whom – Lazaro Alvarez and captain Julio Cesar La Cruz, both AIBA World Champions – make an appearance on Saturday.
First in the ring and making his WSB debut for Türkiye Conquerors’ will be Ferhat Pehlivan, brought in to the national squad back in 2006 and a quarter-finalist at the London 2012 Olympic Games. He faces 19 year-old Cuban Frank Saldivar, stepping in for Yosbany Veitia at flyweight after a solid semi-final win over Mexico Guerreros’ Orlando Huitzil last season.
Turkish lightweight Yasin Yilmaz only joined the elite team last year but has already earned himself a hard-hitting reputation, ending several bouts by Technical Knockout. He may well need to do the same on Saturday if he is to overcome three-time AIBA World Champion and WSB Season IV Team Champion Lazaro Alvarez in the second bout of the evening.
Young welterweight Serhat Guler faces a huge challenge in the form of Cuba’s reigning Olympic Champion Roniel Iglesias, and compatriot Nadir Unal will also need to summon the performance of his life if he is to halt the Domadores’ other three-time AIBA World Champion and WSB Team Champion Julio Cesar La Cruz, currently one of the best boxers on the planet.
The last bout of the night sees the veteran of two Olympic Games, Bahram Muzaffer, move up to super heavyweight to round off the match against the young but experienced Cuban Yohandi Toirac, in what has the potential to be a spectacular finale.