Mexico Guerreros performed when it mattered most, winning their critical final regular season match against British Lionhearts on Saturday evening to jump ahead of USA Knockouts in Group B, sealing the second and final playoff place.
A committed display in a hard fought contest in Aguascalientes saw the home team triumph 4-1. It was Mexico Guerreros’ fourth win of the season, just enough to place them a point ahead of rivals USA Knockouts, and set up a quarterfinal tie against Cuba Domadores.
This outcome looked unlikely after an explosive start to the evening from British Lionhearts’ super heavyweight star Frazer Clarke. Named WSB Athlete of Week 4, the Englishman finished his contest with the highly regarded but inexperienced Trinidad & Tobago boxer Nigel Paul after just 72 seconds. Paul, who represents the Mexico Guerreros franchise, only started boxing at an elite level in 2014, but has already secured a qualification place for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
A dramatic, see-sawing contest followed in the light heavyweight class as two WSB debutants pushed each all the way. Mexico Guerreros’ Carlos Antonio Rodriguez Moreno started the bout at pace with his long reach and rapid jab giving him both the first two rounds. But having located his right hook, British Lioinhearts’ Lynden Arthur roared back in rounds three and four. With the contest riding on the fifth, Rodriguez, buoyed by the home support, did just enough to secure a split decision.
The Aguascalientes crowd were treated to another breathless contest as the flyweight combatants Jose Rojas Romero and Jack Bateson stepped up. Romero, the Mexican National Championships bronze medallist, started brightly but like Rodriguez, he was pegged back by a determined effort from his British opponent. As in the previous contest, the home boxer found enough in reserve to take the deciding fifth round.
With the win and playoff spot in tantalising reach, Mexican welterweight Francisco Armenta delivered a consummate performance, defeating British Lionhearts’ Cyrus Pattinson by four rounds to one.
In the final bout of a hectic evening, Mexico Guerreros’ Lindolfo Delgado Garza added British Lionhearts’ experienced French boxer Oualid Belaoura to his growing list of vanquished opponents. The powerful lightweight swarmed all over Belaoura from the start and won by TKO in just two minutes.