The Cuba Domadores rose to the Semi-Final occasion in Havana, putting on an imperious display of WSB boxing on Thursday night to beat a tough Uzbek side 5-0, all but guaranteeing their place in the Season VI final. The Tigers now need to win all five matches in Friday’s second leg to stand a chance of forcing a box-off against the Season IV champions, a feat no side has prevously achieved against a seemingly unstoppable Cuban team.
The hosts’ light flyweight star Joahnys Oscar Argilagos made a strong start against Uzbek Tigers’ new face Nodirjon Mirzakhmedov in the opening bout of the evening. With Argilagos attacking from the outset to the delight of the home crowd, the Uzbek was in trouble as early as the second round, and Mirzakhmedov was given no room to recover as his opponent powered through to the win.
With the disappointing news that their number-one bantamweight Murodjon Akhmadaliev was unable to box against Olympic Champion Robeisy Ramirez, the Tigers were 2-0 down when their light welterweight Fazliddin Gaibnazarov entered the ring to try and get his team’s first point on the board. He faced Luis Oliva, stepping in for Yasniel Toledo in the Cuba Domadores line-up, who once again proved the strength of their squad with a controlled performance that earned the hosts a comfortable, and unassailable, 3-0 lead.
The Domadores’ reigning AIBA World Middleweight Champion Arlen Lopez and Uzbek Tigers’ Ulugbek Khakberdiev then delivered a brilliant bout of boxing, the two strong, stylish athletes looking determined to make their mark. Khakberdiev began the bout bravely and tried his best to surprise his opponent early on but Lopez was in ruthless mood and, with the crowd behind him, delivered a series of perfect punches to take the score to 4-0.
That left the heavyweights Erislandy Savon and former AIBA Junior World Champion Mirzobek Khasanov to close out the action, and it was the Cuban who again emerged victorious to seal an impressive 5-0 whitewash for the hosts. Savon took the advantage early on, really finding his rhythm in round two and, with the crowd growing in volume as Khasanov tired, there was little doubt as to the winner at the final bell.
Friday night sees the second leg in Havana, with the Cubans needing just one win to secure a place in their third consecutive WSB final. That precious point could well come from lightweight star Lazaro Alvarez, the three-time AIBA World Champion who takes on Uzbekistan’s Elnur Abduraimov. The Tigers’ key boxer has been in good form this season and after a big Quarter-Final win against Russian Boxing Team’s Dzhamal Badrutdinov, will certainly not make life easy for Alvarez.
Cuban team captain Julio Cesar La Cruz is another triple World Champion in the Domadores’ impressive armoury, and he will tackle the Tigers’ Shukhrat Abdullaev in Friday night’s heavyweight contest. La Cruz is a master of exploiting any weaknesses in his opponent’s defences and will again be the favourite against former ASBC Asian Confederation Champion Shukhrat Abdullaev in his first WSB campaign.