We have seen the Cuban’s boxing before, but ask yourself this: How many times have you seen them boxing at home? Never of course in the WSB, but extremely rarely even in AIBA Open Boxing (AOB) events unless you are extremely lucky. We often speak about the tremendous home advantage enjoyed by teams like Dolce & Gabbana Italia Thunder and Astana Arlans Kazakhstan, but this was something we have never seen before.
If you thought the Cubans looked good on the road, then you will have been stunned by watching them in La Havana where they looked absolutely invincible in front of an enormous and vocal crowd, with the Light Flyweights (46-49kg), Bantamweights (56kg), Light Welterweights (64kg), Middleweights (75kg) and Heavyweights (91kg) all showcasing their craft.
Bout of the match
Erislandy Savon won an important final bout against the veteran Russian boxer Vitaly Kudukhov. The Russian who has fought in all three previous seasons of the WSB and has wins over the likes of current WSB number 2 ranked Heavyweight Filip Hrgovic of the Astana Arlans Kazakhstan and a TKO win over Chouaib Bouloudinats of the Algeria Desert Hawks. Kudukhov entered the ring with a record of 6-4 but Savon is not the Pan American Champion for nothing. The Russian having taken a beating in round one, adjusted his approach and started to close with his opponent and turn it into a scrap. He used spoiling techniques that were very ugly but nonetheless tactically exactly what was needed. The match wasn’t the most beautiful of the evening, but because of the experienced Russian’s tactics, it was possibly the most competitive.
Boxer of the match
It was going to take a spectacular performance to knock Yosbany Veitia off the top slot for this category tonight (see below). Yet Luis Ramon achieved just that at Middleweight. The tall southpaw was sublime against Andrey Efremenko of the Russian Team. He was extremely economical in the ring and smooth in his movements. His evasion skills were incredible. He basically boxed the entire 5th round with his hands by his sides. The Russian was just unable to get near him for much of the bout, while the Cuban’s own punching repertoire was excellent. Luis barely seemed to get out of second gear and his showmanship and mobility was reminiscent of a young Muhammad Ali. All in all it was a perfect boxing display, the kind of performance that young fighters dream about. To give credit to his opponent, Efremenko was willing to chase the bout and in no way backed down from the classy Cuban.
The turning point
Although this was only the first bout, such was its impact psychologically that the Russian team were completely unable to respond thereafter. Worldbronzemedallist Yosbany Veitia looked outstanding at Light Flyweight. He was so confident against Bator Sagaluev thathe boxed with his hands down for most of the time. The Russian boxer was able to catch him for this every now and then, but nothing came close to bothering him. Veitia took to the centre of the ring with the confidence of a world class master of the sport. He looked so good in the ring and his jabs seemed so sharp that it looked like he could have beaten anyone in the world last night. Yosbany took his personal record to 2-0 and you have to wonder if there are many out there who are capable of beating him this year.
Fact/Stat of the match
Over 14,000 people came to watch the first ever Domadores match. That set a new WSB record. The crowd were good natured and highly vocal meaning that Havana will be an extremely difficult place for teams to visit if the country’s boxing fans continue to rally around their boys in this way.
On a side note, Erislandy Savon got a knowing cheer of approval from the crowd when he chose to volt over the top rope in the manner formally used by his six-time World Champion and three time Olympic gold medal winning uncle, Felix Savon.
Quote of the match
“Well he’s a bit special isn’t he, this Luis…” – The Commentator sums up the skills of our boxer of the match nicely.
Elsewhere at Bantamweight, Marcos Forestal fought a tight match on his WSB debut with Mukhammed Shekhov in which the Cuban number two pick had to work hard to battle past the Russian. Shekhov however was unfortunate not to come away with more and now goes to 0-4 in the WSB following a cut stoppage.
Luis Oliva was extremely lively at Light Welterweight against Radzhab Butaev of Russia in a bout where both boxers picked up a warning for various misdemeanours. This was possibly the most high octane bout of the evening between two WSB debutants, but it was Oliva who came away with the win.
Coming up next
It’s the big one! The Cubans head to Almaty to take on defending champions Astana Arlans Kazakhstan in what will be their toughest match of the season so far – some of the clashes will be absolutely epic! Meanwhile the Russians are hosting the WSB bad boys, the Azerbaijan Baku Fires who are on something of a roll. It will be another tough night in Russia in a match for third place.
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