Uzbek Tigers show their strength with gritty 3-2 first-leg win against Russian Boxing Team

Season VI debutants the Uzbek Tigers gave the Russian Boxing Team their first taste of defeat in this campaign on Friday night, but the hosts still have a second home leg of this crucial Quarter-Final tie to turn the match around and reach the semis. Marginally the favourites going in to the contest after a flawless 6-0 record in the Group Stage earned them home advantage, the Russians will not have underestimated a Tigers outfit who, in Hasanboy Dusmatov and co, have the kind of match-winners that could cause a sensation in this competition.

It was the Uzbek light flyweight who set the tone early on with a supreme display of boxing in the evening’s opening bout against the Russian Boxing Team’s 24-year-old Bator Sagaluev. Entirely focussed on the task ahead of him, Dusmatov was comfortably the quicker of the two in the first round, deploying deft right jabs while maintaining his distance, with Sagaluev reluctant to take any risks.

The Tigers star never looked like losing his undefeated record in WSB, and it wasn’t until the fourth round that Sagaluev came back into the tie, before Dusmatov again responded superbly to give the visitors the early lead.

Russian Boxing Team’s Abdulkhakim Batyrov came into the ring determined to take back some control of proceedings against fellow debutant Murodjon Akhmadaliev, and won the first round in convincing style. The Uzbek came back out for the second a new man, however, and as his opponent wilted, Akhmadaliev upped his rhythm and took the remaining four rounds to make it 2-0.

With the Russians reeling, Avak Uzlian tried to steady the ship in his light welterweight bout against Uzbek Tigers’ newcomer Anvar Turapov, and a superb contest played out with both boxers keenly aware of the prize at stake. The home crowd was unable to lift Uzlian, however, and a remarkably controlled win for Turapov gave the Tigers an unexpected 3-0 lead.

With the first leg already lost, the two remaining bouts were a damage limitation exercise for the hosts ahead of Saturday’s finale, and the Russian Boxing Team’s heavyweight star Ilia Kvasnikov was the first to rise to the challenge, edging through a tense encounter with Tigers’ Rustam Tulaganov to make it 1-3 via a split decision. Then the strong Russian Alexandr Agafonov had to meet one of the world’s best middleweight boxers in Uzbek Bektemir Melikuziev, and delivered a huge, unanimous win for the hosts that clawed back another valuable point and set up a fascinating encounter on Saturday night.

Russia’s Albert Karibian has a 3-0 record to date in WSB, but Shakhram Giyasov is one of the best new talents in the world at weltwerweight and the Uzbek star will provide an enormous challenge to the Russians’ bid to turn this quarter-final tie around, as will his determined compatriots Shakhobiddin Zoirov, Elnur Abduraimov, Shakhram Giyasov and Shukhrat Abdullaev as they sense a memorable win.