#WSBV – Road to the Finals: Astana Arlans Kazakhstan23 May 2015
Kazakhstan has lost just once this season, as they won 13 matches in a row before their winning streak was snapped by Italia Thunder in the last week of the group stages.
Astana Arlans also enjoy home advantage in both legs due to placing first in Group B, which was partly down to remarkable form in Kazakhstan, which has so far resulted in a dazzling 32-3 record in Season V.
Russia finished second in Group A after winning 10 of their 14 Regular Season matches, and qualified for the last four of WSB after eliminating Season II Champions Italia Thunder 9-1 on aggregate in the quarter-finals.
Both of these teams were eliminated at this stage in Season IV, so the tension will be high in each camp before the start of this fixture.
National Tennis Centre, Astana is the venue for this semi-final clash, where on Saturday 23rd May and Sunday 24th May fans across the world can watch the action free, live and on demand from 17:15 (GMT +6) at AIBABoxingTV.com.
The first leg begins at Light flyweight (49 kg), where 2-1 home favourite Temirtas Zhussupov battles 1-0 Russian Vadim Kudriakov.
Zhussupov is one of the fastest boxers in WSB and always looks to beat his opponent to the punch, while Kudriakov won every round of his quarter-final contest with Italy’s Gianluca Conselmo.
Russia’s 1-0 Andranik Grigoryan enjoyed a solid debut win for his Franchise in the quarter-final over Italy’s Riccardo D’Andrea, and the Bantamweight (56 kg) aims for his second success of the campaign against 2-0 Kairat Yeraliyev.
This could be one of the most entertaining matches of the first leg, as Grigoryan possesses a great range of punches, while 2013 AIBA World Championships bronze medalist Yeraliyev looked very impressive in his opening two Season V appearances.
Samat Bashenov was named the Best Asian WSB Boxer of 2013, and the Astana Arlans Light welterweight (64 kg) is undefeated this season with a 5-0 record, including three dominant home triumphs.
His semi-final rival will be Russia’s 23-year-old Avak Uzlian who has only competed once in Season V when he lost to Cuba’s Yasnier Toledo.
The penultimate match of night one is a fascinating Middleweight (75 kg) fight between the undefeated Meiirim Nursultanov, and Russian debutant Sukhrob Sidikov.
Nursultanov produced many remarkable results in the Regular Season, including a spirited win over Tomasz Jablonski where he took the undefeated record of the Polish fighter.
Sidikov has the difficult task of replacing the number one ranked Middleweight Petr Khamukov in Russia’s team, but he is an experienced competitor who will thrive on the opportunity he has been given here.
Kazakhstan’s Vassiliy Levit finished top of the Heavyweight (91 kg) rankings after seven splendid victories in the group stages, where only one of his victims managed to last all five rounds with the power-puncher.
Although Levit will look to finish the first leg in style for Astana Arlans, he will need to be wary of Russia’s Vitaly Kudukhov who has fought against many of the best boxers in the world throughout his distinguished WSB career.
All three of Levit’s home wins in the Regular Season came via TKO, and if he produces a similar performance in Astana it will give his Franchise renewed confidence heading into the second leg.
ARLANS ROAD TO FINALS
Astana Arlans Kazakhstan has been one of the most dominant teams throughout the history of the World Series of Boxing (WSB), and won the WSB Championship in Season III of the competition.
After reaching the semi-finals of Season IV, the Franchise began the fifth installment of WSB by winning their first 13 matches in the Regular Season.
Their home form was particularly impressive, with the team finishing the group stages undefeated in Kazakhstan having dropped just three individual matches at home.
Astana Arlans has won 80% of their matches across 14 fixtures so far in Season V, and their strong squad is one of the most decorated in WSB history.
A fighter representing the Kazakh team fighter placed at least fifth in the WSB rankings of six weight classes, and two of their athletes finished in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games quota positions.
Kazakhstan are particularly strong in the heavier weight categories, with Croatia’s Filip Hrgovic placing first at Super heavyweight (91+ kg) after winning all seven of his matches in the Regular Season.
Heavyweight (91 kg) Vassiliy Levit was equally dominant in the group stages, as just one of his seven opponents lasted all five rounds against the powerful star.
6-1 WSB veteran Hrvoje Sep impressed at Light heavyweight (81 kg), while 5-0 Light welterweight (64 kg) Samat Bashenov is one of their most exciting boxers to watch.
With a hugely important semi-final ahead against the in-form Russian Boxing Team, Kazakhstan will be relying on their talented team to take them through to another WSB final, including undefeated Middleweight (75 kg) star Meiirim Nursultanov, and speedy Bantamweight (56 kg) Kairat Yeraliyev.