The eighth season of the World Series of Boxing kicked off last Friday that featured some of the most elite fighters in the amateur scene face off against one other for national and individual pride and rankings.
The inaugural card was Italy versus Croatia, the later making their first appearance in the WSB. First bout came in the lightest division at 49 kilograms between Federico Serra and Yauheni Karmilchyk. Karmilchyk was making his WSB debut after medaling in 2016 World Youth Championship and last year’s European Champions. His introduction to WSB was a hard one as Serra was able to time him often, staggering him in the third round which prompted the referee to perform a standing eight count. Serra won via shutout decision, who is better than his sub .500 record. Losing to Gamal Yafai and to Yuberjen Martinez, who is no worse than top 5 in the amateurs is nothing to be ashamed of.
The 56-kilogram bout between Francesco Grandelli and Filip Poturovic was hotly contested. The first three rounds were highly competitive and if Grandelli had something to regret, it be that he seemingly fought at a pace more suited for an eight to ten rounder as opposed to the set five rounds. Both had their moments, but Poturovic won via split decision.
The quickest bout of the card came in the 64-kilogram division between Paolo Di Lernia and Ivan Njegac. Di Lernia staggered Njegac with a left hook in the first round which prompted the referee to give a standing eight count. Di Lernia didn’t let up. Moments later a two-punch combination to Njegac’s body made him drop his hands which set up a monster left hook to the temple which floored him and brought an end to the fight.
The 75-kilogram match up pitted two former youth Olympians in Vincenzo Lizzi and Aleksa Markovic. The opening frame found Markovic patiently timing Lizzi and catching him clean with a straight right four times. Lizzi was able to find his range and target the body in the preceding rounds and won via a one-point split decision.
The 91-kilogram match up featured between the ageless wonder Clemente Russo and up-and-comer Toni Filip. The 35-year-old Russo showed speed and awkwardness that has helped him go to four Olympics and counting but it was Filip who took the initiative at the opening bell. In a fun scrap, the younger Filip prevailed. It’s here saying that we’ll see a more inspired Russo in the next 18 months as it gets closer to Olympic qualifiers. A Tokyo berth would be quite the swan song to an incredible career.
The second card of the opening was France versus Great Britain which also delivered. First fight of the card featured a rubber match between the always exciting Samuel Carmona and Gamal Yafai. Quality and variety were seemingly on Yafai’s side, displaying beautiful stance and combinations while Carmona had good moments, particularly in the third, they were only one punch at a time. Momentum changed in the fourth when Carmona countered a surging Yafai with a low blow that was miscalled as a knockdown. That proved too much to overcome on the scorecards for Yafai, as Carmona won the unanimous decision. Carmona is now 2-1 against Yafai.
The 56-kilogram division also featured a rubber match, this time against Samuel Kristohurry and European champion and the only English fighter to medal at last year’s World Championships, Peter McGrail. In the opening round, McGrail showed the footwork and skillset that has helped him be recognized as one of amateur boxing’s premiere talents. It didn’t discourage Kristohurry from advancing forward, pressuring and outworking him to eke out a hard-earned decision.
The most complete performance of the card came in the 64-kilogram division as Luke McCormack masterfully outboxed Massi Tachour on route to a unanimous decision victory.
Nizar Trimech decisioned Eumir Marcial in the 75-kilogram weight class and David Nyika beat Kristiyan Dimitrov to round out the card.
The Cuban Domadores have been class personified ever since the WSB was created. With a roster of fighters ten and more deep, they were by and large able to do whatever they wanted, whenever they wanted to the Columbian Heroicos with hardly losing a moment, let alone a round on the card.
The 49-kilogram division started things off. Neither team had their premiere fighter for the division take part in the season opener, those would be Cuba’s Joahnys Argilagos and Columbia’s Yuberjen Martinez. Instead they had Damian Arce and Julian Andres Velasquez fill the spotlight. Arce proved too much and won via shutout.
The 56-kilogram division featured a contest between Robeisy Ramirez and Jhon Martinez. Ramirez has been par excellence at both flyweight and bantamweight ever since winning the Youth World Boxing Championships as a sixteen year old back in 2010. Eight years later, he still just simply better than everyone. Routing Martinez on way to 50-45 tallies on every scorecard.
The 64-kilogram featured Andy Cruz Gomez going up against Andres Mauricio Garcia. Ever since entering WSB back in 2015, the 22 year old Gomez has seldom seemed an obstacle he can’t handle. Replacing Yasniel Toledo is no small task for the Cuban squad, but Gomez seems like the quality operator to mount the reigns. Riding the momentum that helped him cruise to gold at the 2017 World Amateur Championships, Gomez soundly outbox Garcia for the easy unanimous decision victory.
The 75-kilogram contest featured 2016 Olympic Champion Arlen Lopez stop Juan Diego Ortiz in one round.
The 91-kilogram contest featured Erislandy Savon stop Julio Cesar Calimeno in three after a two round onslaught had taken place prior.
Next with features three WSB cards pitting Cuba versus Uzbekistan, China versus Patriot Boxing Team (formerly known as, “Russian Boxing Team”) and Kazakhstan versus India