The British Lionhearts secured qualification for the playoff stages of the World Series of Boxing tonight with a stunning 4-1 victory over the previously unbeaten group leaders, Astana Arlans Kazakhstan.
In a stirring performance at a packed and noisy York Hall, the Lionhearts maintained their unbeaten home record to inflict a first defeat of the season on the previously invincible team from Kazakhstan in a series of close contests between two well-matched teams.
It included an upset at heavyweight as Joe Joyce closed the show in his hometown by defeating the 2012 World Series Boxing champion Filip Hrgovic from Croatia on a split decision after a titanic five-round battle.
Wins earlier in the evening for bantamweight, Andrew Selby, lightweight, Sam Maxwell, and middleweight, Fred Evans, had secured the victory for Lionhearts and guaranteed the team a place in the last-eight of the competition and a chance to win the one million euros first prize.
Rob McCracken, Performance Director of the British Lionhearts said: “That was very good win against an extremely tough Kazakhstan team. The boxers did brilliantly to secure the victory and will have learnt a lot from tonight and facing such stiff opposition.
“We still have a couple of hard fixtures to go against Germany and the Ukraine so we want to do well in those, but the boxers have done superbly to qualify for the playoff stages already and have every right to feel confident as we look towards the phase of the competition.”
The Arlans began the evening in typically strong form as Hrvoje Sep overcame Babacar Kamara in the light heavyweight contest.
But Liverpool’s Sam Maxwell quickly got the Lionhearts back on a level-footing with his first victory in the World Series of Boxing over Yerzhan Mussafirov.
Olympic silver medallist, Fred Evans, then put the Lionhearts in front with a win over Miras Bairkhanov in the middleweight contest. In his first ever ring appearance at York Hall, the Welshman opened with a trademark display of jabbing and counterpunching and, despite tiring in the later rounds, went-on to win by a split decision and maintain his unbeaten record in World Series Boxing.
It was left to fellow Welshman Andrew Selby to secure all three points for the Lionhearts making it 3-1 with a win over Meirbolat Toitov before Joyce put the icing on the cake with his victory over Hrgovic.
Joyce said: “I had seen his record and watched him on video so knew it was going to be a real challenge but I just stuck to the tactics and it all worked out. It is great boxing in front of these noisy crowds at York Hall and has really helped all of the team to deliver some excellent performances.”
Next-up for the Lionhearts is an away fixture against the German Eagles on 21 February before a crunch match against the Ukraine Otamans at York Hall on Friday 1 March 2013.
Tickets are on-sale for the Ukraine match which will definitely feature the double Olympic and world champion and the man regarded as the finest pound-for-pound Olympic boxer in the world, Vasyl Lomachenko. Tickets can be purchased at www.britishlionhearts.com or from York Hall.
For more information on the British Lionhearts see www.britishlionhearts.com or follow @Brit_Lionhearts on twitter.
Details of all tonight’s results are below:
Astana Arlans Kazakhstan