It was a tough night in Italy for the Algeria Desert Hawks as the Dolce & Gabbana Italia Thunder sent their Mediterranean neighbours home empty handed. The result put the Italians just one point behind Group A leaders the Ukraine Otamans, whose match was postponed to February the 14th.
For the Desert Hawks, with the USA Knockouts winning their away fixture in Argentina this weekend, their place in the Playoffs could all now hinge on their head to head match with the Americans.
The Flyweights (52kg), Lightweights (60kg), Welterweights (69kg), Light Heavyweights (81kg) and Super Heavyweights (91+kg) were contesting the match.
Bout of the match
Italian superstar boxer Domenico Valentino took on impressive Algerian debutant Reda Benbaziz at Lightweight. The southpaw Desert Hawk moved very well and caused the current World bronze medallist some difficulties at times early on. In a lightning fast bout, Benbaziz had his moments, including catching Valentino heavily at the end of round three. Thereafter though, the Italian’s (now) fifteen bout WSB experience came to bear on the affair as he put on a real exhibition for the local supporters. Valentino looked excellent and now goes 11-4 in the WSB following a real crowd pleaser.
Boxer of the match
Vincenzo Picardi is another of the Italia Thunder’s go-to boxers, with a 9-2 record coming into this Flyweight bout against Amine Khentache, the Italian can always be relied on to deliver a top draw performance. Picardi was his usual aggressive self and scored well with body shots. That said he boxed a very tactical bout, playing it safe and “managing” his opponent rather than going on a seek-and-destroy mission. In many ways, this was a master craftsman quietly going about his work. The Algerian couldn’t get anywhere near him, his frustration clearly getting the better of him at times.
The turning point
With 5-0 being the final score,the turning point was arguably the moment the Italians stepped into the ring with Joe Joyce leading them out. He dominated from the beginning against his Algerian opponent Fateh Touahar.The British Super Heavyweight was able to land at will and the Desert Hawk was forced to take a standing eight count in the second. He was in survival mode thereafter. Joyce never really got out of third gear, but the referee had seen enough by the middle of the third round. His 20 year old opponent, who was making his WSB debut, will now need to focus on improving his conditioning so that he mixes it with the strongest guys in his category.
Fact/Stat of the match
Between them tonight’s Italia Thunder team have amassed a grand total of 31 wins in the WSB (with 21 of those coming via Picardi and Valentino between them). Their rival selection from the Desert Hawks have amassed… none.
Italia Thunder’s Peter Mullenberg from Holland took on 20 year old Hichem Kaalaour at Light Heavyweight. The Algerian southpaw definitely had the reach advantage, with the strength seeming to lie with the Dutchman. It became clear early on that the Italia Thunder boxer was an explosive athlete, taking his time to charge up before unleashing in flurries. The Desert Hawk had to keep chipping away at him with his jab to prevent him from having the time to surge forward… But could he? The short answer was, not quite. But the Desert Hawk gave a good account of himself and didn’t let Mullenberg have it all his own way. It was the Dutchman’s power that won it in the end however.
Welterweight Riccardo Pintaudi took to the ring in search of redemption following his loss to Argentina Condors’ star boxer Brian Castaño in his debut. His opponent Sofiane Tabi had a similar problem coming in with a record of 0-2. One of them would get to improve that in this bout, and it was clear from the off that they both wanted the honour. The Algerian had very fast hands and peppered his opponent with hooks and jabs that his team mate World silver medallist Mohamed Flissi would have been proud of. The Italia Thunder boxer worked from behind a tight guard and threw less blows, but you had the impression that they did more damage when they did land and it was he who took the bout.
Coming up next
The Italia Thunder will have a potentially tricky voyage to Germany for an all European clash against the team placed immediately behind them in the table. Algeria meanwhile will have an interesting trip to the USA, where they will need to beat the Knockouts to hold onto their current Playoff position.
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