The Palasport Vespucci in Rome was the venue for the penultimate night of Season VII Group B action, and it was hosts Italia Thunder who delivered the win they needed over France Fighting Roosters to ensure their place in the last eight. With both teams finishing the group stage on 11 points, the Italians’ 4-1 victory was enough to leapfrog their rivals into second spot by virtue of a 6-4 aggregate win over the two legs, with the French side qualifying as one of the two best-third-place spots on offer.
The hosts got off to the perfect start thanks to Flyweight (52kg) Gianmario Serra’s fine performance against the Fighting Roosters’ Bulgarian import, European Champion Daniel Asenov. The 22-year-old Italian struggled early on against his wily opponent, but grew in confidence from the middle of the second round, landing some solid jabs and keeping himself out of trouble effectively so that, with Asenov failing to seize the initiative, Serra could ease to a unanimous points win.
Lightweight (60kg) Michael Magnesi then extended the Italian lead with an assured display against the Roosters’ debutant Khalil El Hadri. Magnesi’s power and stamina shone through against his resilient opponent, the win setting the stage for fellow pro Erik Lazzarato to seal the match after he came through a tense Welterweight (69kg) battle against Mohamed Ouali. The French newcomer took a while to find his rhythm but after four rounds the scores were tied, and it was by the narrowest of margins that Lazzarato held off Ouali’s challenge to register the win and put his team safely into the Quarter-Finals.
Italia Thunder’s 29-year-old Adriano Sperandio had a tougher time on his WSB debut against the Roosters’ National Champion Bakary Mamadou Diabira, who made it two wins from two at Light Heavyweight (81kg) thanks to some big rights and quick footwork to help him emerge victorious from what was another incredibly close contest. With the score at 3-1, Italy’s top Super Heavyweight (+91kg) Guido Vianello then sent the crowd home happy with a world-class performance against the Roosters’ Austrian talent Aleksandar Mraovic. The 20-year-old put in a brave shift in his first five-round appearance, but the Italian’s longer reach and depth of experience proved decisive as he powered the hosts to an entertaining 4-1 win.