Ukraine blows Italian defending Champion (5-0)

Led by superstar Vasyl Lomachenko, the Otamans have sent shockwaves to World Series of Boxing (WSB) by coming back from a 1-4 loss last week in the first leg and eliminating last season’s winner Dolce & Gabbana Italia Thunder in the semi-finals. Offering an impressive clean sheet to the 7,000 spectators of the Palace of Sports in Kiev, Ukraine reaches the WSB Team Finals for their very first participation in the competition.

With Italian Bantamweight (50-54kg) Daniele Limone unable to make the weight and therefore to face Mykola Butsenko in an official bout, the match started at Lightweight (57-61kg) with two-times Olympic and World Champion Vasyl Lomachenko going toe-to-toe with tough and experienced 2009 AIBA World Champion, Domenico Valentino of Dolce & Gabbana Italia Thunder. The two had already met in the semi-finals of the AIBA World Boxing Championships Baku 2011 where Lomachenko had eliminated the Italian on his way to his second World title. This time around, Valentino did not seem to be at his best level and left the Ukrainian superstar with the best options to attack. Lomachenko could therefore make the most of his powerful left jabs and secure an already large advantage against a bleeding opponent after six minutes. Much better than Valentino all the way until the final gong, the Otaman easily gave a 2-0 lead to his team on an unanimous 50-45 victory.

Coming up next at Middleweight (68-73kg), Dmytro Mytrofanov has demonstrated a lot of motivation against Dolce & Gabbana Italia Thunder’s Michel Tavares. The 23-year-old Ukrainian started the bout by getting as close as possible from the taller Frenchman to land some precise hooks and take a short lead after the first round. Between a physically stronger Tavares and a quick Mytrofanov, the show was good and the contest very even. The decision finally came from some serious uppercuts landed by the Ukrainian in the last three minutes of the fight.

The second most anticipated bout of the night was scheduled at Light Heavyweight (80-85kg) between undefeated Otaman Oleksandr Gvozdyk and 2011 WSB Individual Champion Abdelhafid Benchabla. The last time those two met was in the quarter-finals of the London 201 Olympic Games and the Ukrainian had won on a close decision to then secure a bronze medal. For this re-match, the Algerian landed more punches in the opening round before Gvozdyk equalized in the following three minutes. Benchabla then tried to control the rhythm of the contest but was too tired in the fourth round to contain the precise Ukrainian’s attacks. Gvozdyk finally won this narrow battle on a split decision, giving the lead to his team at 5-4 on aggregate.

It was then time for the Palace of Sports of Kiev to land its full support on Heavyweight (91+kg) Rostyslav Arkhypenko facing Youth Olympic Champion and London Olympian Tony Yoka. That was probably not the most beautiful bout of the evening and despite Yoka’s longer arms, Arkhypenko managed to find the right distance to fight. However the battle was only decided in the last round when the Ukrainian was in a better shape to secure his first ever WSB success. His career highlight resulted in the qualification of the Ukraine Otamans for the WSB Team Finals scheduled for 10-11 May 2013 at the 9,000-seater Saryarka Velodrome of Astana, Kazakhstan.