This weekend represented an enormous opportunity for the Azerbaijan Baku Fires. Had they won in Mexico City, then they would have pulled level with the Russian Boxing Team in the table of Group B. Season III semi-finalists, the Mexico Guerreros, were not interested in rolling over easily on home turf however, and they rediscovered the form that made them one of the World Series of Boxing (WSB)’s most formidable teams last year.
In this exciting clash, it was the Light Flyweights (46-49kg), Bantamweights (56kg), Light Welterweights (64kg), Middleweights (75kg) and Heavyweights (91kg) who were contesting the match.
Bout of the match
Brian Gonzalez was astonishing in just his second ever WSB outing against WSB veteran Gairbek Germakhanov. The Baku Fires Bantamweight went into this bout having only ever lost two bouts in the WSB with a record of 11-2. He is really one of the most under-discussed star boxers in the League and was the number one Bantamweight in Season II. But in this whirlwind of a match, he was out-gunned by the 19 year old Mexican. This was one of the best bouts we have ever seen in the WSB; with both athletes leaving it all in the ring and the fight going right down to the wire. At one point, the young Gonzales looked like he could barely walk to his corner between rounds such was the furious tempo of the contest. The result really means that Gonzalez could also be considered the boxer of the match…But we can’t let him hog both categories, therefore…
Boxer of the match
Heavyweight Vladimir Cheles of the Baku Fires found the odds stacked against the visiting side when he entered the ring. With the score at 3:1, his bout would be crucial if the Fires were to salvage anything from their trip to Mexico. Following an impressive performance though, that is exactly what happened. After winning the first two rounds but losing the third to his opponent Efetobor Apochi, Cheles left nothing to chance as he went into the forth and let the leather fly. The Moldovan’s onslaught was too much for Apochi, who wasn’t able to make it out for the final round. It was a critical win for the Fires, and given the circumstances and the difficult away conditions in Mexico, that made Cheles the boxer of the match for us (though perhaps after Gonzalez…).
The turning point
Juan Romero, the Guerreros experienced Light Welterweight was in no mood to mess about today and used his 15 bouts of experience in the WSB to over-run the unfortunate Fires debutant Salman Ibrahimov. Romero claimed his third career TKO in the league just 15 seconds into the second round, after flooring the new boy one time too many for his corner’s liking. It was a sensible decision from his coaches to pull him out, as he was clearly outclassed by the four season WSB veteran Romero, who is still only 24 years old. Time now for Ibrahimov to reflect and learn, as a quick study of Romero’s own record will reveal he had a tough first season himself, losing three bouts, before going unbeaten the following year.
Joselito Velazquez got a much needed first win of his WSB career against Magomed Ibiyev who now goes 1-1. Velazquez, who is clearly an emerging talent, obviously has the support of the Mexican coaches despite previously losing against number one ranked Yosbany Veitia of Cuba and new Russian team member Belik Galanov. Since he opened the evening for the Guerreros and sent them off on the winning path, he will be happy with his performance and his new 1-2 record.
Unfortunately for the Guerreros and Juan Mercado, that elusive first win still seems to be slipping his grasp and he is now 0-4 in the WSB following a cut he suffered in the fourth. When the scores were tallied by the judges, the bout was given to his rival Soltan Migitinov in a decision that the home crowd didn’t much appreciate.
Coming up next
The Guerreros will be hoping to keep this home form going when they host defending Champions Astana Arlans Kazakhstan next week. Indeed they have announced a strong looking provisional line-up (but unfortunately for the Guerreros, so have the Arlans).
The Fires meanwhile face the slightly easier prospect of a home match against group underdogs, the Hussars Poland. But the Fires shouldn’t take the ever resilient Poles too easily, or they themselves could get burned.
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