With only two rounds of fixture to go until the end of the regular season, we now have a clearer picture of what the knockout phase of this enthralling World Series of Boxing (WSB) third season will look like. With so much at stake, we analyse the different scenarios and possible permutations to determine what the line-up for the quarter-finals could be.
The cross-over two-legged quarter-finals see the winners of each group face the fourth placed team in the other, whilst the second battles the third placed one home and once away to determine which one then makes into the semis on aggregate.
Group B, which many pundits have described as the toughest of the two, has already determined which of the four teams have progressed with German Eagles and USA Knockouts both missing out. Astana Arlans Kazakhstan have, with seven wins from eight matches, guaranteed themselves top spot in the group however there is huge anticipation around the three-way battle for second place between last season’s Champions Dolce & Gabbana Italia Thunder, the quality British Lionhearts and the powerful Ukraine Otamans.
This one will go down to the wire. The Italian team are favourites to claim the second spot with a home fixture versus Kazakhstan in week nine before a trip to the USA on Friday 1 March at the Eldorado Hotel and Casino in Reno. However nothing should be taken for granted with the Arlans looking to bounce back from their first defeat of the season last week whilst the American team showed that backed by a fervent public, it has the tools to threaten the top teams. Great Britain have a trip away to Germany before a mouth-watering showdown with Ukraine at iconic York Hall when the Otamans are set to field a full-strength team, including pound for pound king Vasyl Lomachenko, in order to give themselves the best chance of finishing closer to the top of the table.
Azerbaijan Baku Fires, which have secured first place in Group A, will be eagerly keeping tabs on the fight for second place as they are set to lock horns with the team that finishes fourth. Mexico Guerreros currently lie second behind Azerbaijan but face them away in week nine and then have a daunting test at home to Russia, and need one victory from those two matches in order to secure that second spot. After that, there is a four-way battle for the two remaining slots. Hussars Poland, currently third, are away to Algeria Desert Hawks before hosting Azerbaijan and then do battle against Russia, so making it to the next phase of the competition is no done deal. Argentina Condors, who lie fourth in Group A, face the biggest threat from Algeria and Russia, and still has to face them both, with the latter twice. So there is still all to fight for in this group. Russia is the team that will have the biggest influence on the shape that will ultimately take Group A as they still have five matches in their schedule.
QF1: Third place group A vs. Runner-up group B
QF2: Fourth place group B vs. Winner group A
QF3: Third place group B vs. Runner-up group A
QF4: Fourth place group A vs. Winner group B
Semi-finals: QF1 vs. QF2 and QF3 vs. QF4
Quarter-Finals first leg 22-23-Mar-13
Quarter-Finals second leg 29-30-Mar-13
Semi-Finals first leg 12-13-Apr-13
Semi-Finals second leg 19-20-Apr-13
TEAM FINALS 10-11-May-13