By Marcus Bellinger (@marcusknockout)
It was time to decide who would take home the World Series of Boxing trophy as the Cuba Domadores went into the second leg 3-2 up against the Astana Arlans in JiJiang, China.
Kicking off the action at flyweight (52kg) it was Jorge Grinan versus Saken Bibossinov. The opening round was evenly matched with Grinan beginning brightly before Bibossinov finished slightly the stronger. Round 2 was another close one with Bibossinov slightly the more accurate. Bibossinov landed well to the body in the 3rd as Grinan was repeatedly caught on the way in. Bibossinov looked to load up a bit in the last couple of rounds but the Kazak safely brought it home, taking the unanimous decision to level up proceedings at 3-3.
In a rematch from last year’s final at lightweight (60kg) Lazaro Alvarez faced Zakir Safiullin. Nothing of any note was landed in the first 3 minutes with Alvarez possibly the slightly busier of the 2. Alvarez out landed Safiullin in the 2nd but this was developing into a contest that was far too close to call. Safiullin attempted to close the distance in the 3rd but found the Cuban a difficult target to pin down. Safiullin continued to try and apply intelligent pressure but it simply wasn’t enough and Alvarez got the unanimous verdict to put the Domadores 4-3 up.
Up at welterweight (69kg) Roniel Iglesias squared off against Aslambek Shymbergenov. Iglesias looked sharp from the off and scored with the better shots in the opening stanza. Round 2 was a physical affair as Shymbergenov tried to rough up Iglesias and make him feel uncomfortable. The tactics from Shymbergenov were proving fruitful and Iglesias was really feeling the pace at the end of the 4th. The Kazak flew out of the blocks at the start of the 5th, forcing the Cuban to hold on and although both began to tire it was Iglesias who somewhat surprisingly claimed the unanimous decision to leave the Domadores 1 win away from victory.
In now a pivotal bout at light heavyweight (81kg) Julio La Cruz had the chance the seal the win for his side if he could overcome Bek Nurmaganbet. Round 1 was really what we’ve been accustomed to seeing from La Cruz as he controlled the tempo and the distance. Nurmaganbet had more success in the 2nd but La Cruz was still landing the cleaner punches. Nurmaganbet did his best to try and turn things around but it was La Cruz who got the unanimous points win to give his team an unassailable 6-3 lead.
Rounding off this season’s competition at super heavyweight (+91kg) Jose Larduet took on Kanshybek Kunkabayev. Larduet imposed himself on Kunkabayev in the opening stanza and he continued to bang away with clubbing blows to the body in round 2. Round 3 was rather untidy but a few big shots from Larduet were the highlight. The Kazak continued to eat some more heavy leather as Larduet powered his way to a unanimous decision to put the icing on the cake for the Cuba Domadores.
By Marcus Bellinger (@marcusknockout)
The first leg of the World Series of Boxing final took place today in Xiamen, China as the Astana Arlans squared off against the Cuba Domadores.
Opening up proceedings were the light flyweights (49kg) as Temirtas Zhussupov was up against Damian Arce. Very little on ote was landed in the opening 3 minutes with Arce the aggressor whilst Zhussupov attempted to fight at range. Again Arce pressed his man throughout round 2 with Zhussupov landing the occasional combination. The extra bit of quality came from Zhussupov in round 3 and he controlled the range pretty well in the 4th although again quality scoring punches were at a premium. Zhussupov used clever foot work to evade the attacks of Arce and it was the Kazak who prevailed via unanimous decision to give his side the early lead.
Next up at bantamweight (56kg) Ilyas Suleimenov faced Osvel Caballero. A very untidy first round saw Suleimenov attempt to bully Caballero who to his credit responded well near the end of the opening stanza. Caballero continued his impressive end from round 1 into round 2, using an excellent jab and quick hands. Suleimenov carried on going forward but again the extra quality was coming from the Cuban in the 3rd. The 4th was a bit of a war of attrition as Suleimenov tried to rough up his opponent who stuck to his task and showed great resilience. Caballero’s extra class again proved the difference in the final 3 minutes and he deservedly took the unanimous verdict to level up the scores.
In the light welterweight division (64kg) Dilmurat Mizhitov was up against the formidable Andy Cruz. Despite the best efforts of Mizhitov, Cruz eased through the opening round and also ttok the 2nd even though the Kazak did have a bit more success. Cruz landed with some fabulous chopping right hands in the 3rd and was proving to be a level above Mizhitov. Fair play to the Kazak who never gave in but Cruz got the split decision to put the Domadores 2-1 up. It really must be said that the judge who scored it for Mizhitov really needs to take a long hard look at themselves as it was an absurd a card as you will ever see.
In now a crucial clash at middleweight (75kg) Abilkhan Amankul went up against Osleys Iglesias. A very entertaining opening round could have gone either way with both landing with the jab as well as some solid shots. Iglesias scored with some good right hands but Amankul dug in some hard body shots in round 2. The next 2 rounds were again close with Amankuk just doing that little bit extra. The Cuban had a good final stanza but it was Amankul who won the unanimous decision to once again level up the scores.
The final bout of the evening came at heavyweight (91kg) with Nurbol Altayev coming up against reigning world champion Erislandy Savon. From the opening seconds Savon really had his way with Altayev who looked out of his depth. Round 2 was again target practise for the Cuban who did as he pleased. The one way traffic continued in round 3 with Altayev receiving a standing 8 count and the corner really should have pulled him out at this stage. Altayev bravely clung on until the end but Savon was the unanimous victor giving the Domadores the slender 3-2 lead, setting things up wonderfully for Fridays second leg.
(Image courtesy of WSB Press Service)
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