Italia Thunder host Astana Arlans Kazakhstan in hugely significant WSB clash
One of the highlights of the last week in the Regular Season of the World Series of Boxing (WSB) is a hugely significant clash between Italia Thunder and Astana Arlans Kazakhstan.
Italy are currently third in the Group B table and in the last qualification spot for the knock-out stages, but they are only a single point ahead of Caciques Venezuela which makes this a must win contest.
Kazakhstan have won all 13 of their matches so far this season, and have lost just 11 times in 65 legs which has resulted in the Franchise qualifying directly through to the semi-finals due to their unassailable lead at the top of the group.
Additionally, there are also huge Olympic Games ramifications for some of the boxers competing in this fixture, including a shootout at Light heavyweight (81 kg) where the winner will earn a quota for Rio 2016 next year.
Centro Sportivo Italcementi, Bergamo is the venue for this Group B clash, where on Saturday 25th April fans across the world can watch the action free, live and on demand from 20:30 (GMT +2) at AIBABoxingTV.com.
The top two ranked Light heavyweights compete against each other in Bergamo, knowing that it is unlikely that both of them will still be in the top two come the end of the WSB weekend.
Italy’s number one ranked Valentino Manfredonia is 6-0 this season, with five points wins and a memorable TKO victory over Puerto Rico’s Davey Vega bolstering that enviable record.
Three of Manfredonia’s last four wins have come at home, which will give him confidence heading into his fight with second ranked Croatian Hrvoje Sep who has also won all six of his contests in Season V.
Sep is two points behind Manfredonia due to two of his victories coming via split decision, but a win for the Astana Arlans representative will take him above Manfredonia and into the number one position.
Two Olympic quotas are available from the weight class, but both boxers will be aware of third ranked Cuban Julio Cesar De La Cruz who competes on Friday night, who will temporarily go to the top spot in the weight class if he wins.
Predicting a winner in this contest is difficult because neither man has many obvious weaknesses.
The home support for Manfredonia may help his elegant style, while despite six victories, it’s arguable that Sep has not found top form in WSB this season, and if the best version of the Croatian appears in Italy we could be in for one of the greatest matches of the season.
Another Croatian on the cusp of an Olympic quota is Filip Hrgovic, who has excelled for Astana Arlans Kazakhstan throughout this campaign.
One of the greatest boxers in the history of WSB, Hrgovic has won all six of his matches in Season V including four TKO stoppages.
Hrgovic is ranked first at Super heavyweight (91+ kg) which is a hugely important position as just one fighter will earn a Rio 2016 quota from the weight class.
Any type of win will do for the Croatian, but he will have defeat reigning Italian Champion Alessio Spahiu to confirm his number one ranking.
Spahiu beat Poland’s Roger Hryniuk two weeks ago, and will be full of confidence despite facing a WSB legend.
The action opens in Bergamo at Flyweight (52 kg) when India’s Gaurav Bidhuri meets Kazakhstan’s 1-0 Miras Zhakupov.
An intriguing Lightweight (60 kg) clash follows as 1-1 Italian Donato Cosenza battles 1-0 Roman Chshegrinov, while 1-0 Irish Welterweight (69 kg) Adam Nolan makes his second appearance of the season for the Thunder against 1-1 Aslanbek Shymbergenov.
Azerbaijan Baku Fires look to continue momentum at home to Argentina Condors
Azerbaijan Baku Fires are one of the most in-form teams in the World Series of Boxing (WSB), and they end the group stages looking for their eighth win in nine fixtures at home to Argentina Condors.
The South American Franchise have only won once this season, so will be hoping to double that tally in their last appearance of the campaign.
Second place in the Group B table is already secured for Azerbaijan who will enjoy home advantage in the quarter-finals, and the Season IV runners-up will be aiming for victory here to maintain their momentum.
Guba Olympic Complex, Guba is the venue for this Group B clash, where on Saturday 25th April fans across the world can watch the action free, live and on demand from 19:00 (GMT +5) at AIBABoxingTV.com.
2-1 Murad Rabadanov opens the evening for Azerbaijan as he takes on 0-1 Argentine Flyweight Ricardo Maximiliano Ibarra.
Rabadanov narrowly defeated the highly rated American prospect Brent Venegas III two weeks ago, and also beat India’s tough Gaurav Bidhuri in his first fight of the season.
The lone appearance that Ibarra has made resulted in a losing effort to Azamat Issakulov in week six, but the Condor is a spirited fighter who will make life difficult for Rabadanov throughout the contest.
As Albert Selimov has already earned a Rio 2016 Olympic quota through WSB for the Baku Fires after six successive wins, he is replaced this week by 20-year-old debutant Nasraddin Mammadov who won the gold medal at the 2013 EUBC European Youth Boxing Championships.
Mammadov opens his WSB account against 1-4 Brian Ivan Nunez who has gone the distance five times already this season.
4-1 Parviz Baghirov is ranked fourth at Welterweight (69 kg) in this competition, and the Azeri athlete seeks his fourth consecutive home victory when he meets 0-1 Luis Alberto Veron.
2012 Olympian Mikhail Dauhaliavets lost his only match of Season V for the Baku Fires to the highly ranked Hrvoje Sep, but the talented Light heavyweight (81 kg) is an excellent boxing talent who mixes offence and defence very well.
His opponent in Guba is Juan Gabriel Rizzo Patrón who also seeks his first success of the campaign, which makes their clash a very important one for both boxers.
27-year-old Azeri Super heavyweight (91+ kg) Haji Murtuzaliyev made his WSB debut in 2011, but he has had a quiet Season V, with his lone appearance a second round TKO loss to Filip Hrgovic, before a walkover victory two weeks ago.
An entertaining fighter who loves to come forward, Murtuzaliyev will be keen to assert his authority in this fixture against 0-1 Facundo Cesar Ghiglione.
The Argentine returns for the first time since week two of the season where he was stopped by Cosme Henrique dos Santos Nascimento, and this fight could be a case of whoever lands first, wins.