Azerbaijan Baku Fires confirmed their status as leading candidates for end-of-season honours after a master class against the visiting Russian team. It was a real good show at the Olympic Sports Center ‘Serhedchi’ in this Group A match with AIBA World Champion Magomedrasul Medzhidov, pocket-dynamo Gairbek Germakhanov and a sumptuous debut by Georgian Iago Kiziria all delighting the home crowd as the Fires inflicted a heavy defeat on their rivals.
Reigning World Series of Boxing (WSB) Individual Bantamweight (50-54kg) Champion Germakhanov got proceedings underway in the first contest of the night with the 25-year-old orthodox facing Russia’sMukhammad Shekhov. The fleet-footed Azeri boxer was simply too good in this one, buzzing around his opponent for four of the five rounds, constantly scoring with the jab and that deft left hook of his on his way to a third victory in as many fights this season. Azerbaijan taking the early advantage in the match as Germakhanov recorded his tenth career WSB win.
It was a strong performance by the Fires’ 23-year-old Uzbek Hurshid Tojibaev in the Lightweight (57-61kg) bout against the impressive untested Russian Viktor Batalovat. The highlight of this head-to-head was by far the explosive third round when the two exchanged several flurries of punches, with a couple of huge overhead rights from Tojibaev getting the crowd up on their feet. The movement of the compact orthodox Tojibaev got him in the right positions as his precise punches in the last two rounds put him on his way to a winning debut for his new team after his switch from Mexico over the summer.
Azerbaijan’s tough Georgian Middleweight (68-73kg) Jaba Khositashvili’s clever and precise punches saw him dominate each and every round against Russian WSB debutant Gamzat Gazaliev. The orthodox Khositashvili extended his record in the competition to 6-1 record by expertly dealing with the threat posed by his rival with the 22-year-old’s punishing right uppercuts and solid combinations seeing him prevail to ensure the overall victory for his team.
The Light Heavyweight (80-85kg) battle between Azerbaijan’s 21-year-old Georgian Kiziria and the visiting team’s Aleksander Khotyantsev was a riveting contest between two evenly matched boxers. The power of Khotyantsev told in the first two rounds as his dominated the exchanges with the two going toe-to-toe in the centre of the ring. Kiziria though came back strong and after taking the third, upped the tempo in the fourth as a flurry of hard body shots saw the Russian taking two standing eight counts with the referee stepping in to stop the fight. It was magnificent debut by Kiziria who announced his arrival in the WSB ranks with a win by TKO.
The much anticipated Heavyweight (91+kg) contest between Azeri superpower Medzhidov and battle-hardened Vitaly Kudukhov lived up to its billing with the two slugging it out for most of the five rounds. The height of London 2012 Olympic Games bronze medallist Medzhidov told in the first two rounds as his jab pierced time again through the defences of the powerful 23-year-old Russian. Some good one-twos and some nifty footwork by Medzhidov saw him connect with better punches as he edged a close third. From there on in, the 190cm tall 26-year-old Azeri orthodox was dominant as he closed out the fight to win, putting the gloss on an already impressive performance by the home team.
After recording their sixth win of the season, to cement their place at the top of their group, Azerbaijan Baku Fires next host Algeria Desert Hawks on Saturday 2 February at this same venue. Russia’s next fixture is a repeat of this match the weekend after