Astana Arlans Kazakhstan return to winning ways with brilliant 3-2 triumph at rivals Azerbaijan Baku Fires
Astana Arlans Kazakhstan made it two wins from two this season against rivals Azerbaijan Baku Fires on Friday night to stay hot on the heels of Group D leaders Uzbek Tigers. Both teams still have to face the new franchise one more time in what is becoming a thrilling race for the play-off places.
Baku Fires’ Nasraddin Mammadov got off to a strong start in the evening’s opening bout against Kazhakstan’s National Lightweight Champion Zakir Safiullin, but the Arlans star counter-attacked brilliantly as the bout wore on, and was untouchable in the final two rounds as he powered to a comfortable points win to give the visitors the early advantage.
Magomed Ibiyev’s move up to flyweight got off to the perfect start in a Week 4 win over Uzbek Tigers Abrorjon Kodirov, but the Arlans’ experienced Asian Champion Olzhas Sattibayev proved an altogether different challenge. The 24-year-old Azeri landed some solid punches in the first round but Sattibayev’s determined approach dictated the action as he secured his side’s second convincing points win of the night.
At 2-0 down, the Azeri welterweight Tamerlan Abdullayev then made a name for himself on debut against Kazakhstan’s Aslanbek Shymbergenov. In the bout of the day, Abdullayev’s superb final round proved to be decisive and the hosts’ dream of a turnaround was alive.
The hope was short-lived, however, as Astana Arlans’ Nurdaulet Zharmanov overcame Baku Fires’ Belarusian boxer Mikhail Dauhaliavets to win by TKO in the second round of their light heavyweight and earn the visitors a crucial away win.
The final bout of the night saw Azerbaijan Baku Fires’ 26-year-old WSB star Arslanbek Makhmudov put in a brilliant performance against Kazakhstan’s Nurzhan Bekzatov. Makhmudov controlled their super heavyweight bout from the outset but Bekzatov stayed in the battle until the final round, when the Arlans man was surprised by a quick uppercut and the referee had no choice but to award the Fires’ star a win by TKO.
Mexico Guerreros keep play-off hopes alive with 3-2 win over Morocco Atlas Lions in Casablanca
On an important Friday night of WSB action for Group B, the Morocco Atlas Lions saw their slim chances of making it through to the play-offs snuffed out by a determined Mexico Guerreros team who move up to third place, just a point behind USA Knockouts. The two sides will now meet in Week 10 in Aguascalientes in a match that could decide who joins British Lionhearts in the next round.
The 3-2 scoreline was a repeat of the Week 2 fixture between the two sides, but this time around the hosts had the advantage before a punch had been thrown, with Morocco Atlas Lions’ London 2012 Olympian Abdelali Daraa taking his tie against Guerreros’ young Jose Daniel Rojas by walkover.
First in the ring was Abdellah Aballagh replacing Ahmed Bourous at super heavyweight, but he faced a determined opponent in the Guerreros’ Danish talent Kem Ljungquist. Aballagh struggled to come to terms with the WSB debutant in the opening rounds, and the southpaw dominated to tie the match at 1-1 with a unanimous points win.
The visitors then took the lead when their French star Souleymane Cissokho brilliantly counter-attacked his way through his welterweight bout with Azeddine Tamsamani, eventually delivering a series of big left hooks that ended the bout by TKO midway through the final round.
A tight bout between lightweights Abdellah Boudrar and Guerreros’ exceptional Lindolfo Delgado then put the match beyond the hosts’ reach. Delgado was tactically superior and the more powerful of the two, denying a spirited challenge from Boudrar to edge the judges’ decision.
With the match won, the highly anticipated bout between Atlas Lions’ Dutch star Peter Mullenberg and Guerreros’ second French athlete Mamadou Bakary Diabira became a showcase of brilliant boxing from the light heavyweights. Mullenberg delivered some fine combinations with unnerring accuracy to which Diabira could find no answer, and the experienced Dutchman cantered to a win, making it 3-2 on the night but leaving the Atlas Lions adrift at the foot of Group B.