The British Lionhearts have secured third place in Group B of the World Series Boxing and a spot in the playoff stages of the competition despite losing 3-2 tonight against a powerful Ukraine Otamans team in front of a sell-out crowd at York Hall in London.
Boxing against team which included London 2012 gold medallists, Oleksandr Usyk, and the man rated as the best pound-for-pound Olympic boxer in the world, Vasyl Lomachenko, the Lionhearts gave their all but, despite wins for Andrew Selby and Joe Ward, were unable to overcome the star-studded Ukrainian outfit.
Both Joe Joyce and Sam Maxwell emerged with pride from their bouts with Usyk and Lomachenko respectively as the inexperienced British pair forced their more celebrated opponents to work hard for victory.
Joyce used his height and reach advantage to good effect in the early rounds but ultimately the more experienced Ukraine boxer did enough to earn the win once he got his left hand working to good effect in rounds four and five of a superb heavyweight contest.
Earlier, Maxwell gave an equally creditable performance against Lomachenko forcing the multi-talented Ukranian to exhibit his range of skills in the lightweight battle.
Maxwell said: “I’m disappointed to have lost but I proved to myself that I belong up there in world class. There is no doubt Lomachenko is the best amateur boxer in the world and he proved that again in there tonight. But I wasn’t a million miles away and that will give me a lot of confidence.”
The night began with a first defeat of the season for Olympic silver medallist, Fred Evans in three rounds against Drmytro Mytrofanov in the middleweight bout.
Following Lomachenko’s win over Maxwell, the Lionhearts fought back with victories for Andrew Selby over Ivan Ilntyskyy and Irish light-heavyweight, Joe Ward who also won on points over Denys Solonenko.
Usyk’s victory meant the Otamans took the contest 3-2 on-the-night, but the Lionhearts remained above them to secure third place in Group B of the World Series of Boxing and a quarter final against Mexico Guerreros over two legs later this month.
The Ukraine team had to settle for fourth place in Group B and will face the Azerbaijan Baku Fires who topped Group A,
The Lionhearts home tie against the Mexico Guerreros will be held at York Hall on Friday 22 March 2013 and tickets can be purchased at www.britishlionhearts.com/tickets.
For more information on the British Lionhearts see www.britishlionhearts.com or follow @Brit_Lionhearts on twitter.