WSB 2013-14: Can Russia stop the Cuban crescendo again?01 May 2014
The first legs of the World Series of Boxing (WSB) Season IV semi-finals saw some incredible action, this weekend sees the second legs of both contests, with everything still to play for regarding all four teams left in the competition.
May 2nd sees the second leg between the debuting Cuba Domadores, and the Russian Boxing Team. The contest will take place at Ciudad Deportiva, Habana.
The first leg saw five exceptional contests, with Cuba winning the evening 3-2, giving them a narrow lead away from home, with Russia needing to win away from home to secure qualification for the finals.
Cuba has only lost once this season, a 3-2 defeat to Russia in the regular season, a result they atoned for in the first leg in Moscow.
Russia lost 5-0 away to Cuba in week three, and that will be playing on their minds as they step into the ring in Cuba.
Will it be heaven in Havana for Russia, or will Cuba get through to the final in their first ever WSB season?
Cuba Domadores vs. Russian Boxing Team
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The first contest of the night is at Flyweight (52kg) and sees an intriguing clash between Leodan Nunez, and the Russian Ovik Ogannisian, both of whom have only fought once in WSB.
Nunez represents Cuba, and has amassed a 1-0 record in WSB this season. His sole win came in week ten against Azerbaijan’s Magomed Abdulhamidov. This was a significant win for Nunez, as Abdulhamidov had previously only ever lost one WSB match in twelve bouts.
Ogannisian was the 2012 Russian National Champion, but lost his only WSB contest in week ten against Mexico’s experienced Elias Emigdio. The Russian will be looking for his first WSB victory against Nunez.
At Lightweight (60kg), home favourite Lazaro Alvarez is in action against Russia’s Konstantin Bogomazov. Alvarez is ranked number one at Lightweight, having won all five of his bouts this season.
Bogomazov is 0-1 this season, having lost to Poland’s David Pawel Michelus on points in week six. Considering Alvarez’s record, he has to be a huge favourite for this contest.
Welterweight (69kg) sees a very interesting clash, with Cuba’s Roniel Iglesias Sotolongo taking on Russia’s Andrei Zamkovoi.
The Cuban is the third ranked Welterweight in WSB, amassing a 3-0 record this season including two stoppage victories. All three of his wins have come at home, and the orthodox fighter is a huge threat to anybody in his weight class.
Russia’s Zamkovoi has only fought once this season, a losing effort against another Cuban in Arisnoidys Despaigne in week eight. However, there is no doubting his pedigree, with Zamkovoi a bronze medallist at the 2012 Olympic Games, as well as a silver medallist at the 2009 World Championships.
Iglesias Sotolongo has the WSB pedigree, the stoppage finishes, and the home advantage, but the biggest shock of the night could see the Russian hark back to his medal winning days.
Light Heavyweight (81kg) has been a consistently entertaining weight class this year in WSB, and there is another top clash on show in Cuba, with the second ranked Julio Cesar La Cruz facing off against Aleksander Khotyantsev.
La Cruz has been very entertaining this season, with three great wins including a TKO stoppage over Pole Pawel Stepien in week two.
His opponent Aleksander Khotyantsev has only fought once in WSB this season, with a win away in Poland in week six. However, last season he won twice, with both wins coming by TKO. His lone loss in WSB also came via TKO.
With both boxers boasting knockout power, this could be the fight of the night, and the one that ends the earliest.
Speaking of knockout power, the big boys come into play in the last fight of the night, with the Super Heavyweights (91kg+) in action.
Cuban Jose Angel Larduet takes on the Russian Magomed Omarov , with the 24-year-old Larduet boasting a 1-1 record this season. Lardue did lose to Filip Hrgovic via TKO in week four, which will give Omarov confidence even though this will be his first WSB fight, as he had a walkover in week ten.
Omarov is the taller boxer, and will look to use that to his advantage in the fight. With this being the last fight of the night, many different connotations exist. Either team could need a win, which should make it very exciting.
If the five fights result in Russia winning three of the bouts, the night will end in a sudden death bout, involving two Heavyweights (91kg), Cuba’s 0-0 Lenier Pero, against Russia’s much more experienced 2-1 Sergey Kalchugin.