As the brave Mexico Guerreros boxers take to the ring with the Astana Arlans Kazakhstan, they will know that nothing less than a win against the defending World Series of Boxing (WSB) Champions will leave them with any hope of going through to the Playoffs.
Even that slim window of opportunity is dependent on the performance of the Azerbaijan Baku Fires, who should they win against bottom placed Poland this weekend, will firmly close the door on last season’s semi-finalists.
Mexico Guerreros vs. Astana Arlans Kazakhstan
08/02/2014, 02:50 (GMT), Watch live or on demand for FREE on AIBAboxingTV.com
It’s now or never for the Mexico Guerreros if they want to qualify for this year’s Playoffs. Six points adrift of fourth place Azerbaijan Baku Fires, last season’s semi-finalists need to pull out all the stops and quickly. Their team selection seems to indicate that they are indeed mustering all their strength for a last ditch push. 2013 WSB Boxer of the YearElias Emigdio (15-3) will lead his team out at Flyweight (52kg) against the capable Miras Zhakupov (5-1). At 7-1, Welterweight (69kg) Marvin Cabrera hasn’t been beaten since Week 3 of Season II and will need to be on his best form for the Guerreros. Filip Hrgovic, at 17-3, is one of the most successful boxers in the WSB and will not be easy to unseat at Super Heavyweight (91+kg). He will be joined on the Arlans team by his countryman Hrvoje Sep at Light Heavyweight (81kg). Together they represent quite a fearsome pair at the big end of Kazakhstan’s selection. At Lightweight (60kg), watch out for Samat Bashenov who is a handful for anyone on his day.
Azerbaijan Baku Fires vs. Hussars Poland
08/02/2014, 15:00 (GMT), Watch live or on demand for FREE on AIBAboxingTV.com
In our second Group B encounter this weekend, the WSB “Bad Boys”, the Azerbaijan Baku Fires, have had an impressive season in what is probably the hardest group the competition has ever seen. Now with the contest between the Russian Boxing Team and the Cuba Domadores postponed to March the 12th, the Fires have the chance to move one point ahead of the Russians in the table if they can fight off the Hussars Poland. In so doing, they would also effectively kill off the Mexican challenge, making it mathematically impossible for the Guerreros to catch them.
The Fires must be fairly confident against the visiting Hussars, as despite the great prize that is on offer, they have chosen to field a team made up almost exclusively of debutants. The sole exception is Super Heavyweight Arslanbek Makmudov who is 3-3. This is either risky or tactically ingenious, as with the important playoffs now almost upon us, the Fires will need their top boxers fresh to face one of Group A’s top two teams. For the Hussars, who cannot now qualify for the final stage, there seems to be an emphasis on developing for next season. The draw was always particularly tough on the Hussars who nonetheless battled on admirably. This weekend they are handing the opportunity for experience and redemption to a number of their younger boxers, with 21 year old Ireneusz Zakrzewski the most experienced boxer on the team with a 1-2 record over two seasons, including a win in last year’s quarter-final against the Italia Thunder.
The question is, with the Hussars famous for their never say die spirit, have the Fires made a tactical error in selecting their least experienced boxers, or will the gamble prove a master stroke?