Having lost their opening match of the new season to defending champions Astana Arlans Kazakhstan, the Azerbaijan Baku Fires face yet another stiff challenge from across the Caspian Sea on Friday night as they take on Group D rivals and WSB newcomers Uzbek Tigers. The Tigers delivered a huge statement of intent in their opening fixture, breezing past the Puerto Rico Hurricanes 5-0 in San Juan, but the fresh franchise is likely to find a considerably more robust side standing in their way in Baku.
The hosts’ Magomed Ibiyev is no stranger to World Series of Boxing, but the opening bout of the night against Abrorjon Kodirov will be his first at flyweight. Kodirov himself only made the move up from light flyweight two years ago, and he has since silver and bronze medals at the Uzbekistan National Championships.
The Fires’ Umakhanov Memorial Tournament silver medalist Khasan Arsunkaev will be making his WSB debut in the evening’s second bout, up against one of the world’s most promising lightweight boxers, the 2015 AIBA World Championship bronze medalist Elnur Abduraimov.
Azerbaijan Baku Fires’ Belarusian boxer Yauheni Ramashkevich will face Uzbek Tigers’ Dostonbek Turdiyev in the welterweight class, and another Belarus import, the London 2012 Olympian Mikhail Dauhaliavets, can expect a crunching match against the Tigers’ Shukhrat Abdullayev, gold medalist at the 2011 Asian Confederation Boxing Championships in Incheon.
Last into the Baku ring for what could be the deciding bout of the night will be Azeri 26-year-old Arslanbek Makhmudov, a seasoned WSB boxer with several big victories, including that of two-time AIBA World Champion Mahammadrasul Majidov, already to his name. The super heavyweight will take on Uzbekistan’s veteran Sardor Abdullayev, who made his WSB debut back in Season I for that year’s losing finalists, the Astana Arlans.