A string of scintillating performances in Miami on Friday night, including two wins by TKO and one by knockout, saw USA Knockouts give themselves the best possible chance of qualifying for the playoffs in the WSB’s tight Group B.
A high-energy 5-0 win over Morocco Atlas Lions moved USA Knockouts into second place in the group after their sixth and final regular season match. They now need Group B leaders, the British Lionhearts, to do them a favour against Mexico Guerreros in Mexico on Saturday night. A British Lionhearts win will send the USA Knockouts through to the Season VI playoffs but a home triumph will see Mexico Guerreros leapfrog USA Knockouts back in to all-important second place.
Knowing that first and foremost they had to win their own match, the USA Knockouts started at a ferocious pace on Friday. US National Olympic Trials super heavyweight winner Marlo Moore tore in to Morocco Atlas Lions’ Ahmed Bourous from the start and a series of quick, powerful combinations saw the 25-year-old US boxer win by TKO before the end of round one.
The assault continued in the light heavyweight class as the USA Knockouts’ Jonathan Esquivel dismantled Morocco Atlas Lions’ AFBC African Confederation Boxing Championships bronze medallist Hassan Saada. A second TKO of the night followed, inside three rounds.
The atmosphere in the Miccosukee Sports & Entertainment Dome reached new heights when Paul Kroll, recently crowned US National Olympic Trials welterweight champion, shocked 2015 AIBA World champion Mohammed Rabii. The Moroccan, who went unbeaten throughout Season V, failed to deal with Kroll’s right jab and lost the first three rounds to fall to a surprising points defeat.
A fourth consecutive home success followed in the flyweight class with the USA Knockout’s supremely talented 19-year-old Pan American Games champion Antonio Vargas winning all five rounds against Morocco Atlas Lions’ Achraf Kharroubi.
Carlos Balderas, the first US boxer to qualify for the Rio 2016 Games thanks to a series of top performances in 2015, delivered the whitewash in fine style. Getting in close to his opponent, the 19-year-old lightweight knocked Hamza Rabii, younger brother of AIBA World champion Mohammed Tabii, to the canvas in round two, sealing a great night for the host franchise.
All eyes in Group B now turn to the Mexico Guerreros versus British Lionhearts bout.