British Lionhearts give Kazakhstan their First Defeat in WSB
The British Lionhearts gave the Astana Arlans Kazakhstan their first defeat in this season’s World Series of Boxing (WSB), winning 4-1 and in doing so secured their place in the WSB quarter finals. Whilst the score line may look like a comfortable win for the Lionhearts, it was anything but as four of the five fights were decided by a split decision. The contest was held at the York Hall in London and despite being a home fixture for the Lionhearts, the home crowd was outnumbered by the noisy travelling Kazakhstan supporters, who were treated to some excellent, action-packed fights.
The first fight of the night saw two time European Bronze medalist Hroje Sep take on the Lionhearts’ Swedish fighter Babacar Kamara in the Light Heavyweight division. Despite having an obvious reach advantage over Sep, Kamara didn’t use his jab and allowed Sep to get on the inside. In the only unanimous decision of the night, Sep won comfortably on all three judges’ scorecards winning by scores of 50-45 twice and 49-46, to give Kazakhstan an early lead, despite the MC saying the wrong fighter when announcing the winner.
The next fight on paper looked like it would be the closest of the night and that’s how turned out as Sam Maxwell took on Yerzhan Mussafirov in the Lightweight division. Maxwell started the fight off well, unlike his team mate Kamara he used his jab as he also had a reach advantage and was doing well in stopping his opponent getting on the inside. But as Maxwell began to tire, his opponent had more success getting on the inside and landing his overhand right and left hook, which meant when the fight ended it was always going to be a close decision. Maxwell however had done just enough to edge a split decision with scores of 48-47, 48-47 and 46-49, to level things up on the night.
The third fight was a very good scrap and featured the first of the two British Olympians on the night as Olympic Silver medalist Fred Evans took on Miras Bairkhanov in the Middleweight division. Evans started the better staying on the back foot and counter punching very nicely, however he started tiring in the third round as his opponent tried to make it a rough fight, but Evans showed his caliber as he dug deep to win the final round. There was a slightly peculiar moment at the end of the first round as the Kazakhstan fighter missed with a right hook and seemed to injure his arm, turning away and holding it instantly, so the referee started a 10 count which caused one of the judges to score the round 10-8 in favour of Evans. In round 5, Evans seemed to score an actual knockdown only for the referee to say it was a slip, so the fight went to the judges who scored it in favour of Evans 48-46, 48-47, 47-48 to give the Lionhearts an 2-1 lead. Evans admitted after the fight that he was struggling for fitness during the fight as thought.
We then had the other British Olympian Andrew Selby in a Bantamweight fight against Meirbolat Toitov. Selby was visibly the smaller of the two fighters but throughout the fight used his superior speed and excellent head movement to his advantage and seemed to be a class above his opponent. On the occasional time that Toitov did catch Selby cleanly which would get the crowd going, Selby duly returned with some showboating and a few shots of his own, which he admitted was to shut the crowd up. This fight was a surprising split decision as two of the judges scored every round for Selby but one judge managed to score the fight 48-47 in favour of Toitov. After the fight Selby said that Toitov was a tough opponent due to his size but enjoyed the fight and wants to remain unbeaten for the foreseeable future. The win also secured the Lionhearts victory on the night.
The final fight saw the top two heavyweights in the WSB as hometown boy Joe Joyce took on reigning WSB Heavyweight champion Croatian Flip Hrgovic, who had former Croatia and Arsenal striker David Suker at York Hall to support him. In what was arguably fight of the night, Joyce pulled of the upset and an unbelievable performance in sneaking a tight split decision. Whilst Joyce had a reach disadvantage his jab arguably won him the fight as he found a home for it from the opening bell, however both men’s defence was much to be desired as both landed plenty of massive right hands as they showed their toughness. At times Hrgovic looked every bit the champion boxer he is, landing classy and powerful combinations, however he did seem to get discouraged at times due to Joyce’s jab and his powerful right, whereas Joyce didn’t seem to be affected by Hrgovic’s clean shots. The judges scored the fight 49-46, 48-47 and 46-49, to give Joyce and the Lionhearts a massive victory as well Joyce becoming the number one heavyweight in the WSB.
Last edited by Gareth Rees; 02-08-2013 at 03:40 PM.