Scintillating Lionhearts defeat champions Italy (4-1)


The world famous Celtic Manor in Wales bore witness to another powerful display by the British Lionhearts as they dominated reigning champions Dolce & Gabbana Italia Thunder to win and move top of Group B. John Joyce got the home team underway before Irishman Ward and Welsh pair Selby and Evans gave the hosts the victory as legendary undefeated Super Middleweight Champion Joe Calzaghe looked on in delight.

Promising Heavyweight (91+kg) talent John Joyce of the British Lionhearts seized his opportunity to impress in the first contest of the night when he faced experienced professional Matteo Modugno. Settling down quickly into a good rhythm with the straight punch combinations doing most of the damage, the young Brit recorded a resounding victory over his opponent with a fourth round TKO after the Italian was badly cut above the left eye. It was an excellent performance by Joyce as he gave the Lionhearts the early lead in what was predicted to be one of the hardest fights of the match.

AIBA World Championships silver medallist Andrew Selby began nervously in the next contest in front of his home crowd but soon found his feet and grew in confidence against the respected Bantamweight (50-54kg) professional from Italy Daniele Limone. Using his superior speed and precise shot making, Selby level of skill was a joy to behold as he glided across the canvas, constantly switching stance, and picking his spots to perfection on his way to a unanimous victory, giving the Lionhearts a 2-0 lead in the tie.

The Lionhearts’ burgeoning talent Joe Ward, the current European Champion, put the disappointments of an underwhelming year behind him with a dominant display against experienced Imre Szello of the Dolce & Gabbana Italia Thunder in the Light Heavyweight (80-85kg) contest. The Irish southpaw had too much about him for Szello, who was unable to cope with the pressure he was submitted to. Ward was relishing the big occasion, showcasing a repertoire of shots that the Hungarian just could not cope with. Keeping his distance, patient and sensible, Ward took all five rounds on each of the judges’ scorecards in style to ensure the overall victory for his team.

Taking their time sizing each other up, it was extremely close in the early exchanges of the head-to-head between Ireland’s London 2012 Olympic Games silver medallist John Joe Nevin and the rising star from Serbia Branimir Stankovic. Nevin, the golden boy of Irish boxing, fighting for the Lionhearts after two seasons with Paris United, could not get to grips with the Italian team’s classy Lightweight (57-61kg). It was a thrilling contest with both evenly matched in all departments. With both boxers level going into the fifth round, it could have been anyone’s bout but with Stankovic seemingly on top in the final three minutes, he edged it to win the bout by split decision to reduce his team’s deficit in the match.

Fred Evans, the Welsh hero who also claimed a silver medal at the London 2012 Olympic Games this summer, brought the evening’s stunning show to a close with a hard-fought victory against savvy Michel Tavares of Dolce & Gabbana Italia Thunder in the battle of the Middleweight (68-73kg) southpaws. The Lionhearts’ Evans and the fleet-footed Frenchman both showcased tremendous technique throughout five high-quality rounds but it was the home boxer who did the business in the latter stages to claim victory.

It was another sumptuous display by the British Lionhearts who have so far taken the WSB competition by storm, notching a second successive victory that places them top of their Group. They now face Astana Arlans Kazakhstan away in their next fixture on Friday 7 December whilst Italy hosts Ukraine Otamans at the Mediolanum Forum in Milan that same weekend.