Azerbaijan in search of a miracle against Ukraine

Just a week after the Ukraine Otamans master-class against Azerbaijan Baku Fires in the first leg of this World Series of Boxing (WSB) quarter-final, the Azeris will need to win six bouts in a row in order to reach the Final Four. But the Otamans have lined-up their biggest star Vasyl Lomachenko, thus the mission looks almost impossible this Saturday 30 March (19:00 local time) at the Serhedchi Olympic Sports Center in Baku.

The first battle of this emotional return leg match will be entrusted to two well-prepared boxers. Magomed Kurbanov and his perfect WSB record (5-0) will be the Azerbaijan’s Bantamweight (50-54kg) weapon, while Ukraine Otamans will bring the footwork master Alexandr Riscan. This is a difficult one to predict but Kurbanov’s power could make the difference.

Probably one of the most exciting fights in the history of WSB will take place at Lightweight (57-61kg) between Azerbaijan Baku Fires’ Albert Selimov and Ukraine Otamans’ Vasyl Lomachenko. This third confrontation of their career means a lot to both boxers since it gives them the chance to wipe off old scores. Their last battle in Beijing in 2008 ended on a victory for the Ukrainian star whose only defeat in 300 bouts came against Selimov at the AIBA World Boxing Championships Chicago 2007. Lomachenko has still not forgotten this and wants nothing else but a victory over his eternal foe. Selimov’s only chance to resist to Lomachenko’s anger will be to control the bout from the very first seconds and keep the distance.

Looking for the highest possible confidence for this match, the Azerbaijan Baku Fires have named unbeaten (6-0) Mikalai Vesialou to compete at Middleweight (68-73kg). His rival this Friday will be Oleksandr Strets’kyy who started his WSB career on a victory over British Lionhearts’ Aston Brown. But this was his only bout in the league so far. The Ukrainian will probably use his physical advantage to overcome Vesialou’s tactical skills.

Light Heavyweight (80-85kg) Individual Champion last season and unbeaten (13-0) Ramazan Magomedau is expected to bring another point to his team when he faces Sergiy Lapin. The latter has so far lost all of his three previous WSB fights and his Azeri opponent might just be too tough for him. Magomedau’s height should give him a clear advantage.

Azerbaijan Baku Fires last hopes have been put in Heavyweight (91+kg) Abdulkadir Abdullayev fists. His strong right jabs will be his best weapon against Ukraine National Champion Dmytro Rudenkyi. The Otaman will come to Baku as a WSB newcomer with the difficult task to take on a 6-1 experienced fighter. He is thus given the perfect occasion to demonstrate his aggressive boxing style.

If the home Franchise manages to remain unbeaten after five bouts, the decision will come from a Middleweight (68-73kg) tiebreaker against Jaba Khositashvili and Ievgenii Barabanov.