Titleholders Astana Arlans looking to bounce back in crucial Group D match against Azerbaijan Baku Fires

Following their opening win of the season against Azerbaijan Baku Fires, Astana Arlans Kazakhstan’s title defence stuttered against the Uzbek Tigers last weekend, making Friday night’s rematch in Baku a must-win. With qualification for the play-offs at stake, the hosts will themselves be desperate to put more light between themselves and their third-placed Group D rivals, with the Arlans having boxed one less match.

The Fires’ 24 year-old flyweight Magomed Ibiyev will kick off the action against Astana Arlans’ experienced WSB Team Champion Olzhas Sattibayev, and it will be a stern test for Ibiyev against the Kazkh star who won five contests in Season V. The evening’s second bout sees Azeri Nasraddin Mammadov step up to lightweight for the first time against another member of last season’s championship-winning Arlans side, Zakir Safiullin.

Welterweight Tamerlan Abdullayev makes his first WSB appearance in the third bout of the night, and it looks like being a tough debut against Aslanbek Shymbergenov, the man who defeated Cuba’s London 2012 Olympic Champion Roniel Iglesias on route to the Team title last year.

The hosts’ London 2012 Olympian Mikhail Dauhaliavets of Belarus will hope to improve on his Week 4 loss when he faces the less-experienced Nurdaulet Zharmanov in the light heavyweight bout, before the super heavyweights take to the ring for the final contest of the night. Baku Fires’ tough 26-year-old Arslanbek Makhmudov has beaten several big names over the years including two-time AIBA World Champion Mahammadrasul Majidov, and he will need to replicate that form if he is to overcome Arlans’ promising Nurzhan Bekzatov on Friday.