The USA Knockouts prevented the Morocco Atlas Lions grabbing a precious first win of Season VI during a close contest in Casablanca on Friday night, with new sensation Shakur Stevenson again leading the way during a crucial 3-2 away victory.
The Atlas Lions’ sole winner from their Week 2 defeat against Mexico Guerreros, African Champion Imad Ahayoun, was first into the ring at light flyweight against Knockouts’ Colombian debutant Hernan Alarcon. The 22-year-old Moroccan put together a great run towards the end of the second round, before Alarcon fought his way back into contention with a brilliant fourth, but it was too little too late and Ahayoun took the judges’ decision.
Morocco’s 2014 National Light Welterweight Champion Abdelhaq Nadir then made his debut in the second bout of the evening against US National Olympic Trials winner Gary Russell. The American was keen for a strong start and had Nadir on the ropes before a big left in the third round put his opponent on the ground, leaving the referee to award Russell the TKO triumph to tie the match at 1-1.
With the contest nicely balanced, Knockouts’ talented newcomer Charles Conwell was able to edge his team ahead as he overcame the hosts’ veteran African Champion Badreddine Haddioui, and the increasingly impressive figure of 18 year-old bantamweight Shakur Stevenson then put the tie beyond any doubt as he powered through against African Champion Mohamed Hamout. Athlete of the Week in Week 2, Stevenson again showed why he could be one of the biggest names in boxing in 2016, consummately snuffing out Hamout’s aggressive attacks.
Another Atlas Lions African Champion, Abdeldjalil Abouhamada, ensured the evening ended on a high note for the fans, delivering an emphatic win against Knockouts newcomer Brandon Glanton. Abouhamada looked fresh at the start of a busy Olympic year, and with Glanton unable to summon a fightback, the Moroccan took a unanimous judges’ decision. That meant the night ended 3-2 to USA Knockouts, who moved into second place in Group B and will now travel to London for a top-of-the-table clash with British Lionhearts in Week 8.