Thrilling European Contests Mark Opening Weekend by WSB
Saturday, 20 November 2010 - Switzerland, Lausanne
Juan Martinez (left) lands one square on Javonta Charles.
Close contests in the opening matches of the European Conference of the World Series of Boxing contrasted with shut-outs by the home teams in the American and Asian conferences this weekend as the first regular season of the World Series of Boxing started.
Milano Thunder opened the action at their home venue, the Palasharp, on Friday evening, welcoming former Olympic champion Brahim Asloum's team Paris United. The visitors were unfazed by Milan's strong line-up, featuring two Olympians and one world champion among their national boxers alone, and made a strong start as John Joe Nevin dismissed Olympic bronze medallist Vincenzo Picardi on a unanimous decision in the bantamweight opener.
"He's an Olympic bronze medallist and I knew I was the underdog," Nevin said. "But I've got a great team looking after me at Paris United and I've been learning some things. It's great to get a victory over five rounds."
After an easy win for world champion Domenico Valentino at lightweight, Sergiy Derevyanchenko cemented the home team's lead with a devastating performance that ended with a technical knock-out in the first round of the middleweight contest. From there the action continued apace, with Paris United's Ludovic Groguhe edging ahead to win the evening's closest bout at light heavyweight.
"I've always wanted to box pro. I think it's my style of boxing," said the 24 year old from Strasbourg. "I was really well prepared and my trainers have been doing a good job over the past few months. It's great to be training as a team because we can help each other."
Clemente Russo, 2007 World Champion and 2008 Olympic silver medallist, put in a workmanlike performance to beat Zied Jouini in the heavyweight duel and seal the 3-2 victory for the home side.
Mexico City Guerreros powered ahead to a 5-0 shut-out on their opening home match, which Ivan Khodabakhsh, Chief Operating Officer for the WSB, who was in attendance, described as "an exciting start for WSB Americas".
"The bouts were closer than the results showed and the fans got a great experience with this new, high-velocity style of boxing," he continued. "So many people have worked tirelessly to launch the WSB and now that we've had two events, there's a true sense of accomplishment. But much work remains in order for us to get where we want to be by season's end."
Long-time U.S. boxing analyst and former lightweight world champion Sean O'Grady had a front row seat to the WSB launch in Mexico City and claimed it a success: "I've been waiting 30 years for something like this to come along in this sport," he proclaimed.
Led by head coach Francisco Bonilla, the Mexico City Guerreros featured a team comprised of four Mexican fighters, Brazilian Yamaguchi Florentino and a supportive mariachi band.
"In the beginning I was very nervous," said Avila, who got the shutout started for the Guerreros. "It took me a moment to get through the emotions of the first couple rounds and adjust to this new style. All of this is very exciting with the music, format and all of our fans, but it's a new experience. By the end, I felt strong."
The Memphis Force had difficulty adjusting to the extreme altitude of Mexico City (7,350 feet) compared to Memphis which sits at 331 feet above sea level. Many of the Force boxers opened leads the first two rounds only to watch them disappear as the fights entered the latter rounds. Boxing for the Force were four U.S. fighters and Mongolian Olympian Munkh Erdene Uranchimeg.
"Guys had fights they could have won," said Memphis Force head coach Anthony Bradley. "We learned a hard lesson tonight that this isn't amateur boxing anymore and there's a big difference in this type of style from what they are used to. They might have been good amateurs, but they now have to prove themselves in this new format. The altitude was a big factor but you can blame us for not doing the technical things to win the fights. We'll be much better our next time out."
The weekend's third match saw another shut-out, as the Astana Arlans exploited their home advantage to the full against the Incheon Red Wings with five clear wins on points. Astana's heavyweight international boxers completed the strong home contingent, with Ghana's Maxwell Amponsah continuing his success from last month's WSB Exhibition Match and Hungary's Istvan Bernath getting his first taste of this new style of boxing in the heavyweight bout.
The Beijing Dragons got off to a shaky start on their first weekend, competing away to the Baku Fires at the Serhedchi Sport Complex in Baku. The team were unable to field the mandatory international boxer, having been unable to secure a re-entry visa to China for any of their international boxers three days before their opening bout - the deadline for team entries. To compound their problems, their light heavyweight Xuezhi Jiao came in a full 1.2 kilos under the minimum weight for the 80-85kg category.
This meant one walkover for Beijing after Magomed Abuldhamidov and Ramal Amanov had already taken the lead for the home team in the first two bouts. But in the end all three remaining bouts were adjudicated walkovers in favor of the Baku Fires after the Beijing boxers failed to enter the ring, handing the home team three points and putting them joint top of the Asia Conference with the Astana Arlans.
The final match of the weekend pitched the Istanbulls away to Moscow's Kremlin Bears at the Barvikha Luxury Village on the outskirts of Moscow. The Istanbulls handed 18-year-old Selcuk Eker the responsibility of opening the action in the bantamweight contest. Eker opened with a win but the home team responded with two technical knock-outs in the lightweight and light heavyweight bouts and a win on points for Aptil Ustarhanov in the middleweight contest to give the Bears a 3-1 lead going into the heavyweight finale. But the Istanbulls' Sivko Oleksiy salvaged a valuable point for the visitors by beating the 2009 Youth World Championship silver medalist, Arbi Madaev.
The first match week of the regular season will be completed on Tuesday evening at the American Airlines Arena in Miami, where the home team Miami Gallos welcome the Los Angeles Matadors.
Copyright © World Series of Boxing 2010 http://www.worldseriesboxing.com
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