The World Series of Boxing’s (WSB) “Group of Death” has certainly lived up to its name. With six ferocious teams, representing some of the best boxing nations in the world battling it out across the season, mathematically it was always going to be tough for one team. Unfortunately for the Hussars Poland, so far that has been them. As recently as last March, the Poles were Season III quarter-finalists, their relentless and aggressive style seeing them beat down many a team. Nothing has changed except for having the misfortune of being randomly drawn into the most difficult group in WSB history. Can Captain Tomasz Jablonski offer some redemption to the team against defending champions?
Hussars Poland vs. Astana Arlans Kazakhstan
10/01/2014, 19:30 (GMT) – Watch live for FREE on AIBAboxingTV.com
The Hussars go into this match desperately in need of points, having failed so far to win a single bout this season. They have come close to that breakthrough on a number of occasions. Several fights have gone right down to the wire, but ultimately went in favour of their opponents. The Hussars boxers keep coming though with unflagging spirit. Their bravery has even won them some sympathy among opposition fans and you just get the feeling that their time must be coming. But defending champions, Astana Arlans Kazakhstan may not be the easiest team to achieve their first win against. That said the Arlans, like the Ukraine Otamans in Group A, are making use of the trip to Poland to give experience to a younger generation of fighters, which may provide a window of opportunity for the Hussars. The reality is if Poland are their usual relentless selves they could take a bout or two, which would be an important first step for the Group B underdogs.
Fortunately for them, Tomasz Jablonski will be taking to the ring at Middleweight (75kg). One of Poland’s most experienced WSB boxers, Jablonski is now a three season veteran who will want to atone for his loss against the World bronze medallist Artem Chebotarev of Russia earlier this season. He has been drawn against Kazakh reserve Yerik Alzhanov who makes his WSB debut. This possibly represents Poland’s best opportunity for a win in the match, whether Jablonski can deal psychologically with the pressure, that this fact invites is another question.
Elsewhere Kazakh Heavyweight (91kg) Vasilii Levit is one to watch, not just today but for the remainder of the season, as he stands a real chance of becoming one of the WSB’s top heavyweights as his career develops. With a record of 2-0, including a stunning win over veteran Abdulkadir Abdullayev in his debut and a TKO victory in his last outing, Levit will be a serious problem for Polish debutant Lukasz Zygmunt.
Azerbaijan Baku Fires vs. Cuba Domadores
11/01/2014, 15:00 (GMT) – Watch live for FREE on AIBAboxingTV.com
The Cuba Domadores got the bad news this week that their star boxer, World Champion Julio La Cruz had been shot in an incident in Cuba. Fortunately, the injury was not life threatening and he is already on the road to recovery after surgery to remove the bullet from his hip. The perpetrators, who may have been trying to rob him, have already been arrested. This is still a serious blow to the Cuban team as a whole, and although La Cruz was not scheduled to fight this weekend there may well be a psychological impact on the team. To make matters worse, they have also had to make the long flight to Azerbaijan from Cuba. The athletes have been through a lot this week but are nonetheless behaving with utmost professionalism and everyone at the WSB and AIBA wishes them well, particularly of course Julio La Cruz himself to whom we wish a speedy recovery.
The WSB Bad Boys, the Baku Fires meanwhile are entering this contest in very good shape and with typical Azeri bravado, have selected a line-up that they think will help stall the Cuban locomotive. Thus far the Cubans have only lost two bouts all season (both to defending champions Astana Arlans), yet Middleweight Khaybula Musalov will be the Fires’ main hope of adding to that tally. The number two ranked boxer in Season II, Musalov has an impressive 8-3 record and has only lost to the very best in the business such as the Otamans’ Dmytro Mytrofanov, the Arlans’ Sergiy Derevyanchenko and Italia Thunder’s Michael Tavares. His bout with Yasnier Toledo, may be the match-up of the night.
At Heavyweight, Erislandy Savon seemed to struggle in his last outing despite claiming his second WSB win. As one of the most talented Heavyweights in the world at the moment, Savon needs to work harder in the ring to allow his skill to show through. His first round flash TKO of Korean Jinho Heo in the AIBA World Boxing Championships Almaty 2013, which happened in less than thirty seconds of boxing, indicates that he has the talent to go far. The Fires’ Denis Latipov can hit hard too however as his round one TKO of Polish boxer Mateusz Malujda proved. This could be a spectacular bout to finish the evening.
Russian Boxing Team vs. Mexico Guerreros
11/01/2014, 15:30 (GMT) – Watch live for FREE on AIBAboxingTV.com
It’s been a difficult season for the Guerreros but they bounced back in style in Week 4 with an emphatic 5-0 win over the Hussars Poland. They will be looking to continue that run. Russia meanwhile seem to be taking no chances and are deploying some of their most talented boxers including current World silver medallist Vladimir Nikitin at Bantamweight (56kg).
Now 4-2 in the WSB, Nikitin will be looking to make use of the home advantage to cement his record against the experienced Aaron Almeda of Mexico. The Guerreros are again choosing to include a surprising number of new faces and will be looking to the experience of Bantamweight Alameda and the precocious talent that is Light Flyweight (46-49kg) Joselito Velazquez to impose themselves.