Two-time WSB Champions Astana Arlans Kazakhstan completed their Quarter-Final task in style against the Venezuela Caciques on Saturday night, taking the second leg 5-0 to secure a resounding 9-1 win and set up a huge Semi-Final match against the British Lionhearts.
With Olzhas Sattibayev being saved for the later stages, the home side called upon flyweight Azamat Issakulov to take on current American Confederation Champion Yoel Finol, and a spectacular bout unfurled between the two once the young Venezuelan found his range in the second round. With neither boxer ceding the centre of the ring, Finol tried to switch tactics to unlock the Kazakh, but Issakulov stood firm and the win left the Arlans within one point of the semis.
It was the veteran boxer Zakir Safiullin who then put the result beyond any doubt, controlling his lightweight encounter with the Caciques’ Luis Cabrera thanks to some swift counter-attacks and an effortless style, before debutant Bekzod Khalmetov put in a superb, battling performance to overcome top Venezuelan Gabriel Maestre to the delight of the home crowd.
Arman Rysbek’s first gold at the Kazakh National Championships thrust him into the spotlight back in 2011, and his value to the Arlans squad at light heavyweight was underlined with a unanimous points win over Nalek Korbaj, thanks in part to some big-scoring punches in a pivotal third round that left Korbaj’s brave efforts at a comeback a case of too little, too late.
The Quarter-Final was wrapped up in fitting style by Astana Arlans’ Kamshybek Kunkabayev, who was called upon at super heavyweight against Caciques’ Edgar Ramon Munoz. After a cagey first round largely spent sizing eachother up, Kunkabayev showed his remarkable power with a huge blow to floor his opponent and leave the referee with little option but to stop the bout midway through the second. The Arlans will now face a resurgent British Lionhearts for a place in the Season VI final and a shot at a third WSB championship title.