After months of fierce competition the final of the World Series of Boxing took place at the Sport Palace in Astana as the Cuba Domadores took on the Astana Arlans with both sides looking to claim the WSB trophy for a 3rd time.
Kicking off proceedings were the Light flyweights (49kg) as Temirtas Zhussupov faced Johanys Argilagos. It was a real game of cat and mouse between them with neither man wanting to overcommit and make mistakes over the first 2 rounds. Argilagos landed more to take round 3 and Zhussupov’s slightly higher work rate saw him win the 4th. The Cuban needed a big last round but that never looked likely and Zhussupov won the unanimous decision to give his team the ideal start.
Next up at bantamweight (56kg) Ilyas Suleimenov was up against Javier Ibanez. Suleimenov made an aggressive start landing some clubbing blows to the body in an action packed opening round. Both had their successes in round 2 but the Kazak’s punches had more of an effect. Ibanez enjoyed a good round 3 and managed to keep Suleimenov at bay but he couldn’t really sustain the momentum and Suleimenov’s right hands were having far more of an impact. Despite the Kazak showing signs of fatigue in the final round he did more than enough to claim the unanimous decision to send the Arlans 2 nil up.
In a switch to the scheduled order the Heavyweights (91kg) were next in the ring as Anton Pinchuk had the dubious task of facing Erislandy Savon. Savon controlled the opening stanza with the jab and opened up more offensively in round 2 leaving Pinchuk with a mountain to climb. Pinchuk ploughed on gamely but simply wasn’t in the same league as Savon who strolled to a unanimous points victory giving the Domadores their first point of the final.
The 4th contest saw Dilmurat Mizhitov squaring off against the supremely gifted Andy Cruz at Light welterweight (64kg). Cruz easily swept the opening round and although Mizhitov showed more intent in the second he was simply unable to cope with the outstanding ability and class of the Cuban. Mizhitov managed to sustain a decent tempo in round 3 to make it competitive and the Kazak continued to pour on the pressure in round 4 however, Cruz was just too good and he got the deserved split decision leaving the match all square.
In what looked a fascinating bout at Middleweight (75kg) exciting Arlans youngster Abilkhan Amankul tangled with reigning Olympic and world champion Arlen Lopez. Lopez, whose form has been patchy in this season’s WSB shaded a tight first 3 minutes and the Cuban landed some nice body shots in round 2 but there was little to separate the pair. Lopez loaded up a lot in the 3rd and Amankul scored with a nice combination towards the end of the round. With it all to play for the penultimate round was desperately close before Lopez just did enough in the last to gain the narrow unanimous decision leaving the Cuban’s 3-2 up going in to the break.
The action then resumed with the Light heavyweights (81kg) as Arman Rysbek went up against the formidable Julio La Cruz. Rysbek was on the front foot in round 1 with La Cruz countering his Kazak opponent. Rysbek landed a nice right hand at the start of round 2 before La Cruz began to find his timing. Rysbek was made to miss on multiple occasions in round 3 and by now La Cruz was in full control of the contest. The pattern of the fight never altered and La Cruz sauntered to a wide unanimous decision and the Domadores were now 4-2 up.
It was now rather important for Olzhas Sattibayev to pull off the win against Yosbany Veitia at flyweight (52kg). Veitia landed the cleaner shots in a tight opening round and again the Cuban edged round 2 but neither man was scoring with many punches of significance. Sattibayev threw more punches in the 3rd but simply wasn’t hitting the target often enough. Sattibayev managed to close the distance more effectively in round 4 but Veitia won the final round to take the unanimous decision the leave the Arlans staring down the barrel at 5-2 down.
It was a case of must win for Super heavyweight (91+kg) Olzhas Bukayev against Yoandry Toirac. Toirac made a fast start and landed a number of solid shots in the opening round. Bukayev enjoyed far more success in the 2nd but Toirac was still scoring with some excellent combinations of his own. Toirac was deducted a point in round 3 for holding and was now up against it. The crowd really got behind Bukayev who responded accordingly and Toirac was fading in round 4. There was no doubt of the winner and Bukayev had given the Arlans a much needed life line.
Next to take to the ring at lightweight (60kg) Zakir Safiullin simply had to beat Lazaro Alvarez. Both had their moments in the first round with Alvarez scoring with the left hand and Safiullin landing with the right hand and to the body. Alvarez was the busier in round 2 and at times Safiullin was waiting too long to throw his punches and was struggling a bit to deal with the volume from the Cuban. After a close 4th, Safiullin rocked Alvarez at the start of the 5th and the pair engaged in a highly entertaining last 3 minutes. We went to the cards and despite 2 point deductions Safiullin got the split decision to leave things beautifully poised at 5-4 to the Domadores.
In a high pressure clash at welterweight (69kg) Aslambek Shymbergenov took on Roniel Iglesias. Shymbergenov flew out of the traps early on in the opening stanza before Iglesias came back in to things as the round progressed. After an absorbing 2nd round which could have gone either way Shymbergenov won the 3rd with the right hand to the body proving to be a fruitful punch for the Kazak. Shymbergenov continued to pepper the body of Iglesias and was now taking full command of the contest. Going in to the last Iglesias needed a huge turn around but it never looked like materialising and the unanimous point’s victory for Shymbergenov completed a stunning comeback from the Arlans to send us in to a tie-breaker at flyweight (52kg).
The decider was contested between debutant Olzhas Bainiyazov and Frank Zaldivar. Zaldivar got off to a positive start and it seemed he may be a bit too much for Bainiyazov after the opening round. To his credit Bainiyazov responded well and outworked Zaldivar in round 2. The bout was now being fought mostly on the inside with both leaving it all in the ring. Bainiyazov had a terrific 4th round once again doing far more than his Cuban opponent and the Kazak remain composed to seal the victory via split decision and not only complete a phenomenal turn around but also giving the Astana Arlans their 3rd WSB trophy.
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