Cuba Domadores braced for final hurdle in bid to retain World Series of Boxing crown

Cuba Domadores meet Astana Arlans Kazakhstan in the World Series of Boxing Season V Finals this weekendCuba Domadores will be aiming to seal the defence of their World Series of Boxing (WSB) title this weekend as they go head-to-head with Astana Arlans Kazakhstan in the Season V Finals.

The National Tennis Centre in Astana will play host to both legs of the showdown with the first set to take place tomorrow, followed by the second on Sunday (June 21).

After winning the Season IV Championship in their debut campaign, Cuba began the fifth edition of the competition in outstanding form, winning all 14 matches of the group stages, and losing just seven individual bouts in the process.

A Cuban fighter placed at least fifth in the rankings of each WSB division, and they achieved their ninth and 10th whitewash victories of the season in their semi-final clash with Mexico Guerreros, defeating their North American rivals 10-0 on aggregate.

With a winning percentage of over 90 per cent in Season V, the Cubans will be confident of retaining their crown, but Season III champions Kazakhstan are desperate to reclaim their throne and reassert themselves as the best franchise in WSB.

Kazakhstan are statistically the most successful team in WSB history, having reached at least the semi-finals stage of each WSB season.

They began Season V determined to reach their third WSB Finals, winning the first 13 matches of the regular season with considerable dominance.

Their home form was particularly impressive, with the team finishing the group stages undefeated in Kazakhstan having dropped just three individual matches in front of their passionate fans.

Light flyweight Joahnys Oscar Argilagos Perez will fight for Cuba Domadores ©Getty Images

Light flyweight Joahnys Oscar Argilagos Perez will fight for Cuba Domadores ©Getty Images

The last fight of the first leg is arguably the highlight as undefeated heavyweights Vassiliy Levit of Kazakhstan and Erislandy Savon of Cuba finally battle inside a WSB ring.

Both competitors have never tasted defeat in their WSB careers, and each has won all eight of their contests in Season V.

Prior to that there will be matches in four other weight divisions; light flyweight, bantamweight, light welterweight and middleweight.

The light flyweights will get the Finals under way, as home star Temirtas Zhussupov meets 18-year-old Cuban sensation Joahnys Oscar Argilagos Perez, the 2013 International Boxing Association (AIBA) junior world champion who finished fourth in the weight division’s rankings.

Zhussupov, the 2013 Asian Championships gold medallist, is approaching the prime of his career at 27-years-old, and will no doubt be keen to use almost a decade’s worth of extra experience to make life difficult for his precocious Cuban opponent.

An excellent bantamweight clash follows between Kazakhstan’s undefeated Kairat Yeraliyev and Cuba’s London 2012 Olympic gold medallist Robeisy Ramirez.

An entertaining fighter who pressures opponents with constant movement, Yeraliyev holds a victory over Ramirez from the 2013 AIBA World Championships, and will be eager to win their rematch to give Astana Arlans what would be a significant victory in the WSB Finals.

Astana Arlans Kazakhstan are statistically the most successful team in WSB history ©WSB

Astana Arlans Kazakhstan are statistically the most successful team in WSB history ©WSB

Kazakh light welterweight Samat Bashenov will take to the ring thereafter when he battles Cuba’s number one ranked Yasnier Toledo.

Unfortunately for Bashenov, Toledo has showed little to no weakness so far this season, which makes the two-time AIBA World Championships silver medallist one of the most dangerous fighters to compete against this weekend.

The penultimate middleweight match will follow when Kazkhstan’s Meiirim Nursultanov fights Cuba’s Arlen Lopez.

Nursultanov, the 2010 Asian Games gold medallist, has enjoyed a tremendously successful campaign, which includes a memorable triumph over Poland’s Tomasz Jablonski.

Lopez, meanwhile, has seven wins in eight matches this season, which has seen him achieve a qualification quota for next year’s Olympic Games in Rio.

“It is going to be one of the most anticipated boxing weekends of the year and hundreds of thousands of fans all over the world are eager to discover who will end up a WSB winner this season,” said AIBA executive director and WSB chief executive Karim Bouzidi.

“This first leg will showcase some of the best boxers in the world and we can expect incredible boxing action as world class athletes will be looking to produce the performance of their lifetime.”

The pre-season “Clash of Champions” match between Cuba and Kazakhstan saw the former come out on top, 6-4 on aggregate.

Although Astana secured a 3-2 victory in the second leg, a 4-1 lead for Cuba from the first proved to be too much to overturn.

Fans across the world can watch the first leg of the WSB Season V Finals live, free and on demand from 5:15pm (GMT +6) by clicking here.

Daniel Etchells,
June 19, 2015

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