Azerbaijan Baku Fires hold off Uzbek Tigers 3-2 in a spectacular night of boxing in Baku

Azerbaijan Baku Fires bounced back from their bruising opening round defeat at the hands of reigning WSB champions Astana Arlans Kazakhstan to secure their first win of the season against the Uzbek Tigers in Baku. It was a case of coming back down to earth with a bump for the Tigers, who had demolished Puerto Rico Hurricanes 5-0 in their first ever WSB encounter in San Juan and will now host the titleholders at the end of February.

It was an explosive start to the evening as Azeri flyweight Magomed Ibiyev and Uzbekistan’s Abrorjon Kodirov delivered an exquisite display of world-class boxing, Ibiyev’s early combinations scoring well with the judges. Kodirov grew as the bout wore on, but with the first win so crucial for both sides, it was the Fires’ star who won a split decision to give the hosts the advantage.

Uzbekistan were able to call upon one of the world’s most promising lightweights, Elnur Abduraimov, as they looked to level the match. The AIBA World Championship bronze medalist coped well with the frenzied counter-attacking of Fires’ Khasan Arsunkaev, who eventually succumbed to a third warning and disqualification as the Tigers levelled the night at 1-1.

Azerbaijan’s Belarusian boxer Yauheni Ramashkevich used all of his experience at welterweight to defeat WSB debutant Dostonbek Turdiev, a newcomer at the weight class.  Turdiev turned up the heat in the second round with some strong right jabs, but was unable to sustain the pressure and the hosts eased into a 2-1 lead.

The Baku Fires put the match beyond the Tigers’ reach when 26-year-old super heavyweight Arslanbek Makhmudov won by unanimous decision against Sardor Abdullaev, but the impressive Uzbeks were not finished, and secured what could be a crucial point after a brilliant final bout between their Asian Confederation light heavyweight champion Shukhrat Abdullaev and the hosts’ London 2012 Olympian Mikhail Dauhaliavets. The tie sprang to life in the third round as Abdullaev demolished his opponents’ defence and maintained a ferocious intensity until the final bell, the Tigers going down 3-2 but not without a fight.