The Cuba Domadores put themselves clearly in the driving seat of this World Series of Boxing (WSB) quarter-final match up with the USA Knockouts in their home leg of the event. Havana was buzzing with excitement in the build-up. The stadium was packed to the rafters (16’000 spectators) and in an indication of just how important the WSB is on the island, this was the first time a sports event has ever been filmed in High Definition in Cuba, marking a significant technological milestone in the country’s history.
The Flyweights (52kg), Lightweights (60kg), Welterweights (69kg), Light Heavyweights (81kg) and Super Heavyweights (91+kg) contested this match.
Bout of the match
Double World Champion and Olympic bronze medallist Lazaro Alvarez of Cuba and up-and-coming Venezuelan Luis Arcon Diaz put on an excellent show for the crowd. Diaz impressed journalists at the AIBA World Boxing Championships Almaty 2013, who tipped him to have a bright future in the sport. Indeed, as the current AIBA number 6 ranked Lightweight in the world, he is arguably already there. The 21 year old described his style in the following way: “what I like to do is to box on the outside. It gives me more chance to watch the opponent, and it is more technical as well”. Against a boxer of Alvarez’ calibre however, he was unable to implement his game plan effectively. The Cuban was in stunning form and out-boxed the Knockouts’ boxer, winning each round comfortably. Nonetheless, as you may imagine, the quality of the boxing on display from both athletes was noteworthy and well worth another look on AIBAboxingTV.com.
Boxer of the match
London 2012 Olympic Champion Roniel Iglesias Sotolongo was in imperious form against another talented Venezuelan in the form of Gabriel Maestre. The WSB seems to have a particularly potent Welterweight category at the moment. It speaks volumes when you consider that Sotolongo is not the current Cuban first pick, but sits behind Arisnoidys Despaigne, the 2013 World silver medallist. Emerging Russian boxer Alexander Besputin, who won yesterday, World Champion Daniyar Yeleussinov, and Italy’s Olympic bronze medallist Vincenzo Mangiacapre are all in the mix in the category. So too is Gabriel Maestre, who until last night was unbeaten in the WSB. Indeed his record is so good that even after this loss, he remains the WSB 5th ranked Welterweight, which is quite a statement. All this only goes to emphasise how impressive Sotolongo’s comfortable looking victory was. A stunning uppercut to the body dropped Maestre in round three, and down he stayed. The KO was the first of Sotolongo’s short WSB career to date, but we can anticipate that more will follow.
The turning point
19 year old Yoandi Toirac has impressed so far in the WSB, though he lost his last match against Russian Maxim Babanin. Swedish boxing star Mohamed Sallah meanwhile had been unbeaten in his debut season. This looked on paper to be a good opportunity for the USA Knockouts to seize something from the match, offering them at least a point on the board for the return leg. This was not to be, and the young Cuban proved his mental strength in coming back from his recent loss to comfortably dominate his 30 year old opponent. Sallah is in his prime for a Super Heavyweight and was competing when Toirac was still learning to walk. The fact that most observers still rate Sallah as a good boxer just indicates what a prospect for the future this young Cuban is.
Fact/Stat of the match
The Knockouts now face a significant uphill struggle on the return fixture, with the Domadores having only lost 16% of their bouts this season.
Light Heavyweights Emilio Correa of the Domadores and Michel Borges de Souza of the USA Knockouts put on a display that could have been bout of the night in any other match. But with so much going on, they were unfortunate to find themselves in the wrap-up this week. Correa has moved up a weight category after his success rates slowed following his silver in the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. The move seems to suit him and he clearly has the power to mix it in that category, whilst retaining some of the speed from the lower division. His father was a 1972 Olympic gold medallist at Welterweight and this was an impressive WSB debut for Correa. Hopefully we will see more of him again soon.
Unfortunately there was a walkover at Flyweight with USA Knockouts boxer Eros Correa failing to make weight, giving Gerardo Cervantes a nominal victory.
Coming up next
The USA’s home leg of the event will take place in Rockingham Park, Salem, New Hampshire on Saturday April 12. It represents the first time the WSB has visited the State.