Group A leaders Ukraine Otamans travelled to China high on confidence after a thrilling win over Group A rivals Cuba Domadores a fortnight ago, but the China Dragons carved out one of the performances of the season so far to win 4-1 on Saturday night to the delight of the home crowd. The hosts leap-frogged Turkiye Conquerors to go third in the group after the European side lost 5-0 in Havana, a result that sent the Cubans top.
In the first bout of the day, China Dragons’ He Junjun was in determined mood against Nazar Kurotchyn, his well-timed jabs repeatedly finding their target early on. The Dragons’ star grew stronger as the bout wore on and the crowd erupted as Kurotchyn was floored in the fifth round and counted out of the contest.
At 1-0 up, the WSB Athlete of Week 1, Xu Boxiang, looked composed in front of his home fans against Otamans’ Oleh Dovhun. An even contest exploded into life in the fifth and the Dragons’ man powered through to take the round 10:8 on all three scorecards and give the hosts a commanding 2-0 lead.
China Dragons’ light welterweight Meng Caicheng then delivered a superb performance against Ukraine Otamans’ 20-year-old Denys Pesotskyy to earn his first WSB win and give his side an unassailable 3-0 lead. Working from distance in the tight early rounds, Meng then found his rhythm closer in during the fourth, and despite a concerted fight back from Pesotskyy in the fifth, the Dragons’ hero had already done enough to earn the judges’ decision and a precious win for the team.
Dragons’ inexperienced Hanati Ayiben then had a tough challenge in the form of Otamans’ 2015 European Games competitor Valerii Kharlamov, but the southpaw’s stamina saw him through to record a memorable victory. At 4-0 down, the visitors finally got on the scoreboard in the final bout of the night as Ukrainian heavyweight Dmytro Lisovyi turned up the heat against Dragons’ debutant Zhang Zhe, but the victory was already assured and the China Dragons had caused the upset of the weekend on a night to remember for their home fans.