Dolce & Gabbana Italia Thunder will face the British Lionhearts at the Palamaggiò in Caserta this Saturday 2 February (21:00 local time) in one of the stand-out matches of the seventh weekend of World Series Boxing (WSB) action. Local stars Domenico Valentino, Vincenzo Mangiacapre and Clemente Russo will be taking to the canvas backed by a fervent 4000 capacity crowd, all there to cheer their heroes to victory in this Group B clash.
The first bout will be at Bantamweight (50-54kg) and will see fledgling Italian talent Riccardo D’Andrea pitted in his first career WSB appearance against the impressive Brit Sean McGoldrick. Italia Head Coach Francesco Damiani belives that D’Andrea has all the attributes needed to make it to the very top. McGoldrick, who has two victories in as many fights this season, is an extremely gifted fighter so it promises to make for very interesting viewing.
It will be a repeat of the London 2012 Olympic Games round of 16 when Thunder poster-boy Valentino faces the tall Scot Josh Taylor in the Lightweight (57-61kg) contest. The 28-year-old 2009 AIBA World Champion from Italy is finally finding some form after an injury-hit season last year and he will be relishing the prospect of battling Taylor once again. The Lionhearts southpaw is maturing fast and with his big height advantage, this head-to-head will be very exciting one for the fans.
Taylor said: “Valentino is an experienced and awkward opponent, but my training has gone very well and I am really looking forward to the contest. I enjoy the different demands of World Series Boxing and think it suits my style. It’s less frantic than the Olympic format and the extra rounds and the 10-point scoring system mean you have more time to settle into the bout and think about what you are doing.”
After claiming bronze at the Olympic Games last summer, 24-year-old Mangiacapre has quickly established himself as one of the outstanding talents at Middleweight (68-73kg). The Italian began his WSB career with a sublime victory over Moldova’s Vasilii Belous in week one and he will now be gunning for another win when he locks horns with the Lionhearts’ Estonian bull Kaupo Arro. The fantasy and dynamism of the orthodox Italian make him such a joy to watch.
Mangiacapre told WSB, “I have been working extremely hard in the gym and I am feeling stronger than ever. My opponent will return home with a loss on his record. It does not matter whom I fight, I have always just focused on myself and so far I am happy with the results. I feel very comfrotable in the pro format of WSB and I cannot wait to enter the ring once more”.
The stand-out fight of this tie is by far the confrontation between the Thunder’s 2011 WSB Individual Light Heavyweight (80-85kg) Champion Abdelhafid Benchabla from Algeria and the Lionhearts’ outstanding talent Joe Ward. The 19-year-old Irishman, the reigning European Champion, has taken to the pro style like a duck to water and now sits second in the individual ranking and in that kind of form, comes into this fight as favourite. Benchabla seems to have lost his way since his triumph nearly two years ago and will need to rise to the occasion against an opponent destined for the very top.
Still undefeated and with a WSB record that now stands at 16-0, Italia Team Captain Russo will be the night’s star attraction with the 30-year-old set to take on giant Uaine Fa in the night’s final contest. The 23-year-old Tongan tasted defeat for the first time in WSB when he was outboxed by Olympic Champion Oleksandr Usyk in week five, so he will be looking to cause a major upset against Russo. The clever Italian orthodox however enjoys facing the big lads and will surely put on a show for the huge number of fans that will be there to catch a glimpse of their hero.