When Astana Arlans meet Argentina Condors…28 March 2013
The Astana Arlans have named a strong looking starting five for their crucial World Series of Boxing quarter-final clash with the Argentina Condors in Almaty, Kazakhstan on Friday.
The Condors edged the first leg 3-2 in Buenos Aires last weekend, but with home advantage the Arlans will be fancied to overturn that deficit and advance to the semi-finals on an aggregate victory.
Irish lightweight Eric Donovan has been withdrawn from Arlans side because of injury and replaced by Yerzham Mussafirov, who claimed inaugural WSB Individual gold in 2010/11. Mussafirov is slated to meet WSB debutant Brian Ivan Nunez over five, three minute rounds.
Meanwhile, Italia Thunder, the defending champions, are favourites to make the semi-finals.
The Italians beat the Poland Huzzars 4-1 away last weekend ahead of Saturday’s second leg in Italy.
Domenico Valentino, the 2009 AIBA World champion, will line out for Thunder on Saturday as the Azzurri seek to bid arrivederci to the Poles.
Elsewhere in the WSB, the British Lionhearts will hold a 4-1 advantage when they renew acquaintances with the Mexico Guerreros in the high altitude of Mexico City on Friday.
Andrew Selby, John Joe Nevin, Joe Ward and Joe Joyce both won for the Lionhearts versus the Guerreros at the iconic York Hall in London last Friday, but Belfast’s Conrad Cummings secured what could prove to be a crucial win for the Guerreros over Aston Brown in the middleweight class.
A 4-1 advantage is a handsome lead, but the Mexicans will be fired up for the return. However, the Lionhearts know that if they win two bouts they will go through.
Rob McCracken, the Performance Director with the British Lionhearts, hailed last Friday’s win, but is anticipating a hot reception at the Poro Polanco venue.
“It was a great performance tonight from the team however this tie is far from over and the Mexican’s will be a very different proposition at home in next week’s second leg when we will be competing at very high altitude and the Guerreros will field their strongest boxers,” he said.
The Baku Fires of Azerbaijan meet the Ukraine Ottamans at home on Saturday in the remaining quarter-final looking to overturn a 5-0 first-leg thrashing in Kiev last weekend.
The Ottamans are clear favourites to progress from this clash, while the Baku Fires’ only path to redemption is a 5-0 win and victory in the box-off weight. Basically, they will have to win six bouts in-a-row against the mighty Ukrainians to survive.
Their task has been made all the more difficult as Vasyl Lomachenko has been named in the visiting for the return leg at the Olympic Sports Centre in Baku.
Usually, athletes have to retire before they are described as legends, but two-time Olympic champion Lomachenko, who is unbeaten since 2007 and who has had an astonishing 300 bouts in his career, has already achieved legendary status and he’s still active.
Intriguingly, he’s in against Russian ace Albert Selimov in the Azeri capital. Both boxers have met twice, Selimov winning at the AIBA World Championships and Olympic qualifiers in Chicago in 2007, a tournament which featured 1960 Olympic champion Muhammad Ali as an honoured guest of AIBA.
Lomachenko exacted a measure of revenge for the Windy City reversal with victory over the ex European champion en route to gold at the Beijing 2008 Olympics.
Speaking ahead to the third meeting between two of most formidable lightweights on the planet, the Ukrainian southpaw said that he was eager to hear the opening bell.
“I can’t wait for the weigh-in when I will look into his eyes. I am also impatient about this fight, as it will finally dissolve all remaining doubts about who the best boxer is”, said Lomachenko.
Box-off weights have been nominated for each match in the event of draws.
By Bernard O’Neill