Here it is; the BIG one. The match everyone has been waiting for is finally being contested this weekend: the Cuba Domadores versus the defending World Series of Boxing (WSB) champions, the Astana Arlans Kazakhstan. Can the Domadores repeat their astonishing away victory in Almaty on home soil in Havana? Or will the Kazakh boxers respond with an assault of their own?
Cuba Domadores vs. Astana Arlans Kazakhstan
22/02/2014, 20:00 (GMT), Watch live or on demand for FREE on AIBAboxingTV.com
Unquestionably the most highly anticipated match of the Regular Season is the rematch between the defending champions and the pretenders to the throne. Last time out, Cuba caused a sensational upset by beating the Arlans in Almaty 2-3. The Cubans are putting out a full strength team, including some of the biggest names in boxing such as World bronze medallist and WSB number 1 ranked Flyweight (46-49kg) Yosbany Veitia, and number one ranked WSB Heavyweight (91kg) Erislandy Savon.
The Arlans head coach Sergiy Korchynsky, has, it should be remembered, masterminded WSB titles in the last two consecutive seasons. The man is widely regarded as having one of the best tactical brains in boxing and so in the face of the greatest rival his team is likely to meet this season, he is not sending a full strength team.
Think about it. The Arlans have already qualified for the Playoffs. They need their top boxers fresh for the business end of the season. They want the Cubans to know as little as possible about their boxers whilst getting the most information possible on the Domadores’ athletes. They want to remain tactically unpredictable. What is the solution? You bring in the fringe members of your team. Kazakhstan is the world’s most dominant boxing nation currently, with greater depths of talent than perhaps even the Cubans. They have plenty of excellent young boxers who are hungry for a shot at some of the big names. They have nothing to lose and there is very little tape to study of their performances. This makes them dangerous. The Cubans meanwhile have their reputations on the line. They don’t just have to win, but to win comfortably.
Thus the question is, can the young Kazakh boxers push the Cubans hard? If so, how hard? Will it be enough to rattle them before a potential future clash with the Kazakh first team? Or will they be crushed? Either way, Korchynsky must be admired for having the courage to risk playing the long game.
Azerbaijan Baku Fires vs. Russian Boxing Team
22/02/2014, 15:00 (GMT), Watch live or on demand for FREE on AIBAboxingTV.com
Bragging rights for the mid-table dominance are at stake between the neighbourly rivals, though both are comfortably through to the Playoffs. Again, this should therefore necessitate a tactic of resting the first team boxers for the epic battles ahead and to allow the younger less experienced boxers to gain some valuable time on the canvas. This is exactly what Team Russia is doing. The Azerbaijan Baku Fires however, seem unable to resist the temptation to put some of their better athletes in the ring, as running the risk of losing at home in a derby match is not the kind of thing they go in for. Therefore they have star Middleweight (75kg) Mikalai Vesialou taking to the ring. He has only ever lost to the Great Sergiy Derevyanchenko in the WSB, so we can expect him to put in a solid performance alongside Abdulkadir Abdullayev. The Azeri Heavyweight has an exceptional record of 7-2 with four of those coming by way of TKO or KO. However, he has failed to get a win yet this season and will want to make amends for that. Another one to watch is Gaybatulla Gadzhialiyev at Light Welterweight (64kg) who is the current number 3 ranked boxer in the WSB at that weight category. For the Russians, watch out for Petr Khamukov who is 2-1 at Middleweight as he could make an impact. His only loss is also to Derevyanchenko, so this should be an interesting bout to watch in this match.
Hussars Poland vs. Mexico Guerreros
21/02/2014, 19:30 (GMT), Watch live or on demand for FREE on AIBAboxingTV.com
The Hussars Poland will be looking to make the most of their home draw against fellow strugglers the Mexico Guerreros. Tomasz Jablonski will be leading the team out at Middleweight. His 3-3 record is tellingly one of the team’s strongest and his Week 5 win over Yerik Alzhanov was crucial for the Hussars and he will be hoping to repeat the performance against debutant Enry Saavedra.
The Mexicans meanwhile will be looking to veteran boxer Juan Romero at Light Welterweight to give them some much needed points on the board and add to his 10-5 record.
Other than that, both teams are looking to build for next season and, much like in the Algeria Desert Hawks verses Argentina Condors match this weekend in Group A, they are giving some of their poorer performing boxers some chance at redemption.
The opportunity for the brave Hussars Poland to get their first win of the season is there for the taking this week against an inexperienced Guerreros team, but will it be taken?