The beginning of this year's tournament kicked off on Thursday in the UK as the returning "British Lionhearts" hosted the "China Dragons". Unfortunately for the Chinese team they lost overall with a score-line of 3-2 in favour of the British team.
The only Chinese fighter to pick up a win was He Junjun who defeated Ashley Williams in a bout at 49KG's. Although Junjun was the only Chinese fighter to win we did also see his team mate, Croatian fighter Josip Bepo Filipi, pick up a victory at 91KG as he over came Britain's Mirel Jitaru, himself a Romanian fighter. As for the losing Chinese fighters they were Diao Jianhao, who was beaten by Qais Ashfaq at 56KG, Tuolewulayi Sairier, who was beaten in by Sam Maxwell at 64KG, and Zhou Di, who saw his bout at 75KG with Anthony Fowler come to an early conclusion courtesy of a nasty headbutt that left Fowler a bloody mess.
On Saturday we had two bouts of note featuring Asian teams. One of those events was held in the Quba Olympic complex in Azerbaijan as the "Azerbaijan Baku Fires" hosted the "Italian Thunder" and saw the home team take a 4-1 win over the European visitors.
The one loss for the Fire was at 49KG where Russian team member Magomed Ibiyev lost to Ireland's Paddy Barnes, who appears to be the standout fighter in the Italian team. Whilst a Russian lost to an Irishman at 49KG the Azerbaijan team got revenge at 56KG when another Russian, Magomed Kurbanov, defeated the much touted Irishman Michael Conlon.
At 64KG Azerbaijan saw local fighter Gaybatulla Hajialiyev defeat Italian Vincenzo Mangiacapre whilst at 75KG Nikolay Veselov, a Bulgarian member of the Azerbaijan team, defeated Salvatore Cavallaro. The Azerbaijan team further stamped their control of the match up as Abdulkadir Abdullayev stopped Fabio Turchi in the 91KG bout.
On the same day as Azerbaijan's win we also saw the very highly regarded Kazak team, the "Astana Arlans", dominate the thoroughly outmatched "Caciques de Venezuela". The Kazak team took the series 5-0 and never came close to losing a bout.
At 49KG Mardan Berikbayev took a clear win over Joel Finol to get things underway before Meibolat Toitov defeated Jose Diaz in a 56KG bout. At 64KG things were much the same with Samat Bashenov beating Luis Arcon. All three of these bouts were 3-0 decisions in favour of the home team who stamped their authority on the match up in the final bouts as Meirim Nursultanov stopped Juan Carlos Rodriguez in the 4th round of their 75KG bout and Vasiliy Levit took the 91KG bout with a 3rd round TKO over Alfonso Flores.