In an intriguing night’s boxing in Miami, one bout changed the entire face of Group A, bringing the USA Knockouts within one point of a Playoff position with a match in hand and allowing Team Germany to leapfrog from fourth to second place.
Moreover it wasn‘t any ordinary bout that caused the changes as the USA took an unexpected point of group favourites the Dolce & Gabbana Italia Thunder, but rather it was the debut of an unknown 23 year old from France against a London 2012 Olympic bronze medallist that made the difference.
It was the Light Flyweights (46-49kg), Bantamweights (56kg), Light Welterweights (64kg), Middleweights (75kg) and Heavyweights (91kg), who took to the ring in this match.
Bout of the match
Robson Conceição, the 2013 World silver medallist and his Lightweight opponent Daquan Mays put on an outstanding display for the crowds in Miami. Mays looked like he knew his way around the ring, and was perhaps unlucky in the short term to have faced such an experienced opponent for his first appearance in the competition. The experience may do him good however and the 20 year old American boxer is certainly a good find for the USA. Conceição, despite his great desire to attack aggressively, had to show his opponent sufficient respect to stay safe. In reality of course, the Brazilian is also a new boxer to the WSB having only had one bout previously to this one, so it speaks volumes about his talent for us to be already writing of him as though he were a WSB veteran. He was named as the commentator’s boxer of the night and he is a great new addition to the Italia Thunder team and the WSB in general. It will be interesting to see how he fares against some of the tournament’s bigger names. Mays began to look a little outgunned by the end, but he came back hard to give us a fantastic final flourish to one of the best bouts of the weekend so far.
Boxer of the match
In reality, the bout of the match, boxer of the match, and turning point of the match (if not the week in Group A), should all have been awarded to Souleymane Cissokho of France, who was making his WSB debut at Welterweight. The 23-year-old USA Knockouts boxer faced a seemingly impossible challenge against the great Italian pugilist, London 2012 Olympic bronze medallist, Vincenzo Mangiacapre of Italy. Therefore this must go down as the greatest upset of the season so far. We have said for some time that Mangiacapre could get into trouble for his tendency to box with his hands right down by his sides in the Italian style, relying on his agility to keep him from harm. Against Cissokho he finally came unstuck. At the end of the first round, the Frenchman clipped the more experienced boxer with a hard left hook to leave him wobbly. Mangiacapre came back to take the second, and Cissokho the third. The bout remained close and by the end of the fourth round, the Italian coach was screaming at his man in the corner, and through the final round he could be heard calling for his man to go straight in. But it was too little too late and Cissokho had managed to engineer a well worked win over one of the biggest names in the WSB to guarantee the USA a hugely important point. This took them within just one point of the Argentina Condors and a place in the Playoffs, with a match in hand over their South American rivals. Denying Italy the full points for the match also meant that the Italians slipped to third behind Team Germany. Mangiacapre wasn’t a classic villain however as he took the loss stoically and was enough of a gentleman to hold the ropes for his opponent.
The turning point
When WSB veteran Abdelhafid Benchabla of Algeria took to the ring for the Italia Thunder, the team were 2:1 down. Knowing that they had a walkover at Super Heavyweight, the Thunder had already secured a point from the match. But to get the win, Benchabla would have to do the business against his Light Heavyweight opponent, WSB debutant Michael de Souza of Brazil. The gap in experience was apparent from the start, with Benchabla coming into the bout with a 15-4 record. He put all that extra ring-time to work for him and the Italia Thunder to ensure that the team came home with the win. De Souza had his moments however, but for much of the later rounds he was in survival mode. A very difficult debut for the Brazilian, but another assured performance for the now 16-4 Algerian.
Quote of the match
“Cissokho might just be one of those absolute naturals, you never can tell, but I have a feeling that Cissokho will test Mangiacapre’s chin” – Our commentator calls it right within the first minute of the bout.
Eros Correa made his second appearance in the WSB against Italian debutant Iuliano Gallo. Correa fought a good bout, with enough zip and verve to bring his record to 1-1 and give the USA Knockouts an important early win in the match. Again, this proved pivotal not only for the match, but for the shape of the whole group. If the USA can keep the pressure on Argentina and make it to the Playoffs, it will be a huge statement of intent.
Elsewhere Mihai Nistor won his bout by walkover following the withdrawal of both USA Super Heavyweights.
Coming up next
The USA Knockouts will have the difficult task of hosting the Group leaders, the Ukraine Otamans at home next week, whilst Italy have a home match against the Argentina Condors.
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