WSB: Ukraine 1-4 Russia: Russians are first to semis
Lausanne, Switzerland, April 4, 2014 – In a match that drew global interest, including live coverage by top British broadcaster BT Sport, the Russian Boxing Team overwhelmed the World Series of Boxing (WSB) Season III finalists, the Ukraine Otamans 8-2 on aggregate across two legs of competition.
It was a bitter pill for the Ukrainian stars to swallow, but there was an exceptional level of sportsmanship shown across the two legs by all athletes and both Franchises, showing that sport truly can transcend everything, and that the Olympic ideals are deeply rooted in the sport of boxing.
The Flyweights (52kg), Lightweights (60kg), Welterweights (69kg), Light Heavyweights (81kg) and Super Heavyweights (91+kg) contested this match.
Bout of the match
Ukraine’s Pavlo Ishchenko took on the dangerous Russian southpaw Dmitriy Polyanskiy at Lightweight. Peculiarly, Ishchenko seemed to be wearing a single long sock on his left leg and no sock at all on his right, but this didn’t seem to negatively impact on his boxing. The 2012 Olympian put in a performance that was full of flair. His willingness to mix dancing with an ability to stand and scrap made him a difficult opponent to unpick. Ishchenko’s work rate was laudable early on, yet as the bout drew on, the hard hitting Russian began to make his presence felt. Polyanskiy took the bout by the scruff of the neck for a few rounds and then came into the final round dead even. In the end, the momentum remained with the Russian. But this is a bout that is worth watching again on AIBAboxingTV.com.
Boxer of the match
Russia’s Alexander Besputin went toe to toe with Taras Golovaschenko of the Otamans. It became clear very quickly that the shorter Besputin had the hardest punch and knockout power. The question was almost immediately on everyone’s lips: will the taller Ukrainian be able to keep him out at range? In his favour, the Otamans’ boxer was able to switch stances at will, which helped in dealing with the southpaw Russian. However, after a serious battle it was Besputin that took the bout and thus the entire match for Russia to send them through to the semi-finals. Being the key-man is enough in this case to earn him boxer of the match.
The turning point
Oleksandr Ganzulia of the Otamans came into the ring against Russia’s Eduard Yakushev, knowing that his team was out of the competition already. At that point, winning the home leg was at least still possible. The Russian was a clever, if slightly overconfident boxer with an ability to switch hit. Ganzulia came into the bout with a 2-1 record and showed a very quick right hand on several occasions; often in fact he chose to lead with it. In a replay of the storyboard above, the Ukrainian dominated early on but began to come off the boil as the fight wore on. With Ganzulia fading fast, by the final round they were all even. At least in points. In reality the Ukrainian was by this stage so tired that he did well to make it out for the last round. He took two eight counts in the fifth and was in many ways saved by the bell. The Russian win, put even the compensation prize of winning the home bout beyond the Otamans.
Fact/Stat of the match
With the Otamans dominating Group A for much of the season, and the Russians only finishing third in Group B, more weight has been added to the theory that the Group B teams that survived what was undoubtedly the toughest group phase in WSB history, have emerged into the Playoffs as far stronger teams than those in Group A. Will that theory continue to hold water as the weekend progresses?
Quote of the match
“Eduard Yakushev is throwing shots that are hitting Oleksandr Ganzulia like the Hadron collider” – Will Vanders, WSB Commentator
Iegor Plevako and Maxim Babanin had an impressive exchange at Super Heavyweight. The Russian Babanin dropped his Ukrainian opponent in the second round for an eight count. Plevako recovered admirably but was back under pressure in the third. Following a cut, the Russian took the bout. It was an unfortunate stoppage, but a deserved win.
Azat Usenaliev of the Ukraine Otamans and Bakhtovar Nazirov had a very competitive bout at Flyweight. The two orthodox boxers worked extremely hard across the five rounds and it remained extremely close throughout the contest. The crispness dropped off the bout in the last two rounds but the effort levels did not. Coming into the final round, there was only one point in it. The Otamans’ boxer kept his cool and used his mobility to dominate the last round to take the bout.
Coming up next
The Otamans are now out of the competition but Russia become the first team to advance to the semi-finals. Their opponents will be determined tomorrow (1st leg) and on the 12th of April (2nd leg) in a highly anticipated match between the USA Knockouts and Cuba Domadores.
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