Having taken five matches to register a first away victory in Season V, the British Lionhearts made it two wins on the road out of two so far this campaign with an impressive display in Casablanca. It was a second defeat in a row for the Atlas Lions who need a win when they host the USA Knockouts in two weeks’ time to have a hope of qualifying from Group B.
Britain’s exciting young lightweight Luke McCormack got the Lionhearts off to the perfect start, controlling his opening bout against Abdellah Boudrar. Both boxers had gathered solid WSB experience during Season V, but McCormack was in inspired form, barely letting his opponent into the contest as he secured the visitors the early advantage.
Another top-class Brit, who came out on top at Rio Boxing Test Event in December last year, super heavyweight Frazer Clarke, doubled the lead in even more emphatic fashion as he despatched Morocco’s Ahmed Bourous. Clarke looked comfortable and found his range late in the third round, landing a huge right to put Bourous on the canvas. He recovered well, but the judges’ decision was never in doubt and the Lionhearts found themselves one bout from another valuable away win.
London 2012 Olympian Abdelali Daraa had the task of trying to haul the Atlas Lions back into the match against European Confederation flyweight silver medallist Muhammad Ali, but he struggled to find a way through the Brits’ tight defence. Growing in confidence as the bout wore on, Ali’s experience was enough to hold off the challenge and give the Lionhearts an unassailable 3-0 lead.
Morocco’s superstar southpaw Mohammed Rabii didn’t look quite as sharp as he did throughout the whole of last season, but the 2015 AIBA World Welterweight Champion was able to continue his unbeaten run against Haizel Tabiri-Essuman. The Brit landed some excellent uppercuts in the second round but Rabii was up to the challenge and edged the bout to give the fans something to cheer.
Morocco’s African Confederation bronze medallist Hassan Saada lives and trains in Casablanca, and the home favourite finished the night on a high by winning a tight bout against British Lionhearts’ determined WSB debutant Thomas Hart. Hart may have lost, but his strong performance will clearly make him one to watch for the future, and the Lionhearts, who now look forward to back-to-back home matches against Mexico Guerreros and USA Knockouts, have got their Season VI campaign off to the ideal start.