Argentina to battle the odds when Azerbaijan visit


The last match of this World Series of Boxing (WSB) weekend will see Argentina Condors face Azerbaijan Baku Fires at the Club Social Y Deportivo in Santa Clara del Mar on Saturday 19 January (23:15 local time). The home team will be relying on the Argentine duo of London Olympian Alberto Melian and up-and-coming 20-year-old Heavyweight (91+kg) Luis Bravo to lead the troops to victory against a team containing some real quality boxers.

Getting the action underway will be rising Bantamweight (50-54kg) star Melian against the Fires’ orthodox Uzbek Orzubek Shayimov. The 23-year-old Argentinean southpaw was given a tough introduction to life in the competition when he battled last season’s top ranked fighter at this weight Gairbek Germakhanov. But despite losing, he acquitted himself well on his pro style debut. With home advantage this time, expect Melian to come good against his opponent.

Condors teenager Ronan Sanchez will then be making his WSB debut when he locks horns with Azerbaijan’s 22-year-old southpaw Isa Isayev at Lightweight (57-61kg). The Azeri fighter lost in his only previous WSB outing so will want to show everyone what he can do, whereas the local boxer will be counting on the element of surprise to gain the upper hand. This one should be very close with the two evenly matched.

At Middleweight (68-73kg), Azerbaijan are pitting their 2012 Individual Championships finalist Khaybula Musalov against 21-year-old Puerto Rican Henrri Polanco Ferreras. After a sumptuous debut campaign last season, Musalov would like to cement his position as one of the division’s top boxers versus an opponent that is still finding his feet at this level.

The penultimate bout of the night will see Argentine Facundo Simal, who boast an 11-0 record in the pro ranks, fight the Fires’ 24-year-old Moldovan southpaw Vladimir Cheles. The home team has high hopes for Simal but the 26-year-old needs to be less erratic against an opponent that is still unbeaten in this competition.

Bringing the show to a close, the Heavyweight (91+kg) clash between the Condors’ tall 20-year-old Bravo and experienced Azeri southpaw Haji Murtuzaliyev should be an explosive one with the two offense-minded boxers. Bravo impressed in his maiden WSB appearance and will have a big reach advantage when he faces the Fires’ mister reliable. 25-year-old Murtuzaliyev is capable of the unexpected so it should make for interesting viewing.

With Argentina in a four way battle for two play-off qualification spots, it will be vital to make home advantage count here. Azerbaijan should never be underestimated as they know how to win on the road, are meticulous planners and never take anything for granted.