WSB 2013-14 Semifinals: Will Azerbaijan's home form ensure success over Kazakhstan?02 May 2014
May 3rd sees the second leg of the World Series of Boxing (WSB) Season IV semi-finals between the defending WSB Champions Astana Arlans Kazakhstan who are away to Azerbaijan Baku Fires. The contest will take place at the Olympic Complex in Guba.
The first leg saw five high class contests, with Kazakhstan winning the evening 3-2, which makes them slight favourites heading into their away contest.
Kazakhstan have won four away fixtures this season, including their quarter-final away contest in Germany. However, they did lose 4-1 in Azerbaijan in the regular season, which will give the Baku Fires much confidence.
Azerbaijan have been in wonderful home form this season, winning five of their six matches, with their only loss a 3-2 home defeat by Cuba Domadores. They have won their last two home fixtures 5-0, including a sensational performance against the highly rated Dolce & Gabanna Italia Thunder in the quarter-finals. They have a 24-6 record at home, which is an imposing figure for the visiting Kazakhs.
Astana Arlans Kazakhstan vs. Azerbaijan Baku Fires
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The first fight of the night sees the speedy Flyweights (52kg) in action, with Elvin Mamishzada taking on Iliyas Suleimenov.
This is a repeat of their week six contest, which saw Azerbaijan’s Mamishzada winning by unanimous points decision. The Azeri has only fought once else this season, losing to Andrew Selby in the quarter-finals away in Italy.
Suleimenov has also only fought twice this season, beating Poland’s Grzegorz Kozlowski in week ten, and will be desperate to avenge his defeat to Mamishzada in the same venue he lost previously.
This opening match will be the catalyst for the evening, and the rematch everybody is talking about could launch the momentum for the winners team.
Following up that potentially close contest is the Lightweight (60kg) class, with the number eight ranked home favourite Albert Selimov fighting Samat Bashenov.
Selimov is one of the most decorated Azeri boxers of all time, with two European Championship gold medals, as well as a gold and a bronze in the World Championships. He is 2-1 in WSB this season, and perhaps most impressively, he has only lost one of seven home contests in his WSB career, that loss coming against the legendary Vasyl Lomachenko last season.
Ninth ranked Bashenov has had a mixed season so far, with a 2-2 record, and the southpaw has lost two of his three away contests this season. The Kazakh was the number three ranked Lightweight last season, and he will be hoping to replicate that form in Azerbaijan.
Welterweight (69kg) provides a very intriguing contest, with two WSB newcomers battling each other, in what could be a contest of controlling nerves amidst much pressure.
The away fighter Manat Omerzakov has fought only once this season. However, that win was a very impressive points away in Mexico over Marvin Cabrera in week eight.
He comes up against the 20-year-old Azeri Yauheni Ramashkevich, who is 1-2 this season. The youngster has lost both of his away fights this season, but did beat Kazakhstan’s Merim Nursultanov on points at home in week six, and Ramashkevich will be looking to defeat another Kazakh on home turf.
At Light Heavyweight (81kg), two boxers compete for their respective teams, though neither of them are from the respective nations.
The Belarusian Mikhail Dauhaliavets represents The Baku Fires, and he comes into the contest having lost his only WSB fight on points in week four.
His opponent, the Croatian Hrvoje Sep is vastly more experienced, with a total of 21 WSB fights in his career, including two wins this season against one defeat.
The eighth ranked Light Heavyweight Sep is a firm favourite for this fight, and if the night is close by the time the fourth fight comes around, he could be the difference maker in Guba.
In the last fight of the night the Super Heavyweight (91kg+) class is on show, with home favourite Haji Murtuzaliyev taking on Croatia’s number two ranked Filip Hrgovic who is representing Astana Arlans Kazakhstan.
Hrgovic has won all three of his WSB fights this season, with his last two wins coming via TKO. The 21-year-old is tall and powerful, and was the WSB Individual Champion in 2012.
Murtuzaliyev is 1-1 this season, but has won all three home matches he has had in his WSB career, including a victory over Ruslan Myrsatayev in week six, and he will be hoping to beat another Astana Arlans boxer here.
These two boxers met in the individual final in the 2011/2012 WSB season, with the Croatian winning that contest on points.
This has all the makings of being an explosive fight, with both boxers offering huge power. It could be a case of whoever hits first, wins.
If there is a need for a sudden death bout at the end of the night (which will happen if Kazakhstan wins three of the five fights and Azerbaijan wins two), it will take place at Light Heavyweight between Azerbaijan’s 2011 World Championship silver medalist Teymur Mammadov, and Kazakstan’s Adilbek Niyazymbetov.