Posts Tagged ‘Paris United’
Tuesday, 06 March 2012 – Switzerland, Lausanne
In the much anticipated showdown between last year’s champions Paris United and the classy Italian outfit Dolce & Gabbana Milano Thunder, there were some riveting encounters between two of the most exiting teams in this season’s WSB competition. It was a real nail-biter right until the very end but once again home advantage made the difference in this one.
After failing to make weight, Geoffrey Dos Santos was unable to present himself for the Bantamweight contest, giving Milano the walk-over and the early advantage in the tie. Irish record breaker John Joe Nevin quickly restored parity with a hard fought victory in the Lightweight battle after dominating 21-year-old Serbian National champion Branimir Stankovic. Nevin has been in fine form this season, extending his unbeaten record to three wins no losses, but this triumph did not come easy with Stankovic mounting a strong fight back. Though in the end it was too little too late as the Irish 2009 AIBA World Boxing Championships bronze medallist took the fight by split decision.
Milan were back in front in the match after their Irish Middleweight William McLaughlin cut Cameroonian 29-year-old Joseph Maluma in their contest and was awarded the win by TKO. It was a quality performance that had him ahead on all three judges’ scorecards. McLaughlin is really making a name for himself this season with his fourth win of an excellent campaign for him.
Frenchman Ludovic Groguhé, who was transferred during the summer from Paris to Milan and is one of the stars of the WSB, has somehow lost him way of late and had looked out of sorts following two successive defeats. His battle against Hrvoje Sep was an opportunity to set the record straight and make him a hero with his new team. However the Croatian Light Heavyweight had other ideas, starting this fight with real intent. Groguhé began brightly, dictating the tempo of the bout from the centre of the ring but Sep, with the raucous support of the crowd, somehow turned the fight on its head in the latter stages to snatch a deserved win and drag Paris level at 2-2.
All to fight for as once more the Heavyweight face-off doubled up as the decider. Step into the ring the giant Filip Hrgovic against Polish rising star Michal Olas. At 19 years of age and measuring 198cm, Hrgovic is an imposing figure and with his experience it was a tough ask for the orthodox Pole. Clearly lifted by his compatriot’s win in the Light Heavyweight contest, Hrgovic looked hungry and in no mood to take prisoners as he completely overawed Olas from the first bell. With his opponent in real trouble in the early stages, Hrgovic stamped his authority to win by TKO in the second round, thus handing the 3:2 win to Paris United on the night.
Once again this action did not disappoint and it will be on a knife-edge for in the return leg in Italy.
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Grand Slam Puts Astana Arlans Ahead after First Night of Finals
Friday, May 06, 2011
Boxers who had been used to competing in a home or away corner in the WSB for the past six months suddenly found themselves in neutral territory today for the first leg of the WSB Team Finals at the Guizhou University Stadium in the city of Guiyang, China.
It quickly became clear that the opposing boxer was not the only opponent to overcome tonight, as all the boxers had to adapt to fighting in a completely different time zone and a much higher altitude than they are used to.
It was yet another devastating performance by the Astana Arlans’ naturalized Kazakh Kanat Slam that gave the Arlans the edge on the first night. Slam stopped Paris United’s Stéphane Cuevas in the first round of the middleweight contest to notch up a fifth victory for the season. Slam has won all but one of his fights inside the distance, starting with a thrilling knock-out in his debut in week six of the competition.
Paris United had decided to rest their star bantamweight Nordine Oubaali for the Individual Championships in two week’s time, selecting Giorgi Kilanava from Georgia to take to the ring for only his third time this season with the unenviable task of facing world number one WSB bantamweight Kanat Abutalipov of the Astana Arlans.
Despite the enormity of the task, Kilanava commanded respect in the ring and remained unfazed by apparent taunts from his opponent, who appeared to be grinning through his gumshield in the second round.
But it was Kilanava who took the upper hand in the third round, momentarily landing Abutalipov on the ropes. Abutalipov countered in the closing seconds of the third round but the Georgian made a break in the fourth and continued to dominate in the fifth. However, it was too late to make up the difference and Abutalipov took the split decision 46-46, 48-47, 48-47 to open the scoring in the Arlans’ favour.
“I’m very happy,” Abutalipov said after the bout.” Although my opponent wasn’t as strong as I expected, I still found it a difficult fight.”
Paris United’s lightweight Rachid Azzedine missed out on a place in the Individual Championships by four seconds and was determined to make up for this against Merey Akshalov in the University of Guizhou Stadium tonight.
By the end of the second round he was ahead after a cut to his opponent had to be attended to twice by the ringside doctor. He maintained the lead through to the end to take a win by unanimous decision 49-46, 48-47, 48-47.
“I had one bout before this and I’m glad about that because I was worried that the cut might open up again,” he said. “The bout was difficult because of the jet lag”
The middleweight encounter was over very quickly as Stéphane Cuevas came faced a barrage of punches from Kanat Slam from the opening bell. After only half of the first round had elapsed, Cuevas appeared to be unsteady on his feet and the French corner threw in the towel, handing Slam his third straight win inside the distance.
In contrast, the only way the light heavyweight bout between Hrvoje Sep and Ramzjon Ahmedov would have finished early would have been by a knock-out as the boxers traded punches so equally that at one point in second round they even managed to land connecting punches each other at the same time.
Although Sep opened strongly to win the first round, in the later stages of the contest both boxers were visibly tired and Ahmedov took a slight lead. In the closing rounds both boxers hunkered down low to slug it out and the fight was too close to call.
The judges confirmed Ahmedov as the winner with a split decision 47-48, 48-47, 49-46.
Heavyweights Tony Yoka and Ruslan Myrsatayev opted for a very open fight, much to the delight of the spectators, who could see evenly traded blows clearly connecting.
Yoka landed a crushing blow in the second round but moments later Myrsatayev caught him off guard with a straight right that had him staggering a couple of meters back to the ropes.
As the altitude took its toll, both boxers already looked tired by the third round, but nevertheless dug deep into their reserves to withstand the full 15 minutes in the ring.
With Yoka ahead going into the final round, a straight left that connected with Myrsatayev sealed the victory for Paris United to close out the first day’s scores 3-2 in the Astana Arlans’ favour.
“I was very tired and I think my team mates were as well,” Yoka said after the bout. “Part of that is down to the time difference and part to the altitude.”
Youth Olympic Champion Yoka has a great ally in team-mate Filip Hrgovic – the second Croatian boxer of Paris United, who will close out the competition tomorrow night.
“Even if me and Filip are still young, I think we are two of the best junior heavyweights in the world at the moment and we are going to do some damage,” Yoka says.
“Filip and I follow each other closely and we have a great friendly competition.”
The scores make for a thrilling finale tomorrow night in Guiyang in which Hrgovic could play a decisive role in the final bout.
Yoka’s advice for his colleague: “I will tell him he’ll be tired because of the altitude but we are here for the team and that’s what helped me to find that little bit extra tonight.”
Photo: Rahid Azzedine of Paris United, right, lunges with a straight left against opponent Merey Akshalov of the Astana Arlans.
Photo Credit: WSB
Paris & Astana Set to Contend for WSB Team Title
The first-ever World Series of Boxing team champion will be crowned this week. After six months of competition, the two contenders, Paris United and Astana Arlans have registered their squads for the finals, which will be held at the Guizhou University Gymnasium in Guiyang, China, May 6-7.
The teams will battle for the title over two nights with a squad of ten boxers, each night featuring five bouts in each of the WSB’s five weight categories.
Six months of competition featuring 76 matches have unfolded among 12 worldwide franchises comprised of over 200 boxers from 49 countries. Just four teams survived an ultimate test of will to compete in the inaugural WSB play-offs as the Baku Fires, Los Angeles Matadors, Astana Arlans and Paris United found enough success in the ring to advance and represent their respective franchise cities.
As has been the case all season, the team finals will be intense as two proud franchises featuring seven Olympians and 12 World Championships competitors will face-off in an decisive season-ending duel that is sure to feature the best non-stop boxing action outside the Olympic Games.
Paris United arrived in Guiyang over the weekend to train in earnest for the finals after eliminating favourites Baku Fires in the semi-finals. Brahim Asloum’s squad will, however, be without their bantamweight star Nordine Oubaali and light heavyweight Ludovic Groguhe, who are both contenders in the Individual Championships.
Groguhe had an operation on his hand last week after an injury he sustained during the finals and his recovery in time for the Individual Championships on May 27 and 28 is still uncertain. Oubaali has chosen to sit out to concentrate on the Individual Championships.
Astana will arrive in Guiyang with a formidable squad that includes two Beijing medalists in its middleweight line-up. Gold medallist Bakhyt Sarsekbayev, who was beaten by Christopher Pearson of the Los Angeles Matadors for only the second time in six matches in the second semi-final leg, is joined by Slam Kanat, the bronze medalist from Beijing who has since changed nationality from Chinese to Kazakh.
With bantamweight Kanat Abutalipov and lightweight Yerzhan Mussafirov both qualified for the Individual Championships as the top boxers in their weight categories over the regular season, Astana also look strong in the lower weight divisions.
The absence of Abutalipov’s opponent in the Individual Championships, Oubaali, means a return to the ring for John Joe Nevin for Paris United. Nevin had missed both semi-finals after having trouble making the weight. He now returns for one crucial last fight at 54kg before a likely move up to lightweight for next season. Joining Nevin will be Georgian boxer Giorgi Kilanava, a 2009 World Championships competitor who will be looking for his first WSB win after two previous defeats.
Rachid Azzedine is Paris United’s response to top lightweight Mussafirov of the Astana Arlans. The 28-year-old has been looking for a major title since his gold medal at the Tampere Tournament in 2008 but has excelled in the WSB, picking up five wins in five bouts before an unfortunate technical draw in the penultimate week of the regular season dashed his hopes of qualifying for the Individual Championships.
Paris United Extinguish Baku Fires
By WSB – Friday / April 15
After last week’s 4-1 away defeat, Paris United were left needing the same result or better to qualify for the finals tonight at the Palais des Sports Marcel Cedran. Thanks to tremendous support from the home crowd, Brahim Asloum’s men became true firefighters and managed to contain the Baku Fires. They inflicted a devastating 5-0 rout on the visitors to earn their place in the finals in Guiyang with a spectacular display of boxing.
An unequal fight opened the night between Nordine Oubaali of Paris United and Tugstsogt Nyambaar of the Baku Fires. The young but experienced French bantamweight showed a clean and precise style of boxing as announced. Nyambayar had trouble countering in the face of the tremendous support the home boxer enjoyed. “Tonight we’ll make it with our heart. Our goal is to win the finals. And as far as I am concerned I want to wear the WSB belt,” declared Oubaali afterwards. Oubaali, who is also a contender for the individual championship title, confirmed his status as one of the revelations of the World Series of Boxing with a win by unanimous decision: 49-46, 49-46, 48-47.
The second bout between unbeaten Rachid Azzedine of Paris United and Koba Pkhakadze was not a tight affair either. Motivated after his last fight in Paris ended in a technical draw that dashed his individual title chances, Azzedine was very tense during the opening minutes of the lightweight bout and barely managed to box his usual style in the first round. As the second round started, the Frenchman pressured his opponent and managed to connect with his face and liver several times. Azzedine then recovered his style and displayed his best skills on the way to victory by another unanimous decision: 49-46, 50-45, 49-46.
Michel Tavares then faced Soltan Migitinov of the Baku Fires (no. 2 in the individual ranking). Migitinov is mighty and Tavares is fast. But while Migitinov could not match Tavares’s speed, the Frenchman was entirely capable of adapting to his rival’s strength. Tavares took a psychological advantage after some nice combinations to the body in the third round. A tired Migitinov had to resort to wild swings in the closing stages, but to no avail. Tavares took a third straight win by unanimous decision for Paris United: 50-45, 48-47, 49-46. This brought the cumulative scores level and the final within reach. “He was number two, I wasn’t even in the top 10, but this doesn’t mean anything you see. This victory came from my heart, you can win everything with that,” said Tavares after his victory.
Hrvoje Sep of Paris United faced Rizvan Alimuradov of the Baku Fires in the light heavyweight contest. Baku was now in danger and the visitors badly needed a victory. In the closest fight of the evening there was little to separate the two boxers, who fought closely, often in the clinch, each one trying to pick up individual points wherever he could. After four rounds one judge had the Azeri boxer winning, but the other two had both boxers tied on 38. In the decisive fifth round, Croatian Sep was in no mind to let the Fires spread in Paris. The judges’ decision was as close as the bout itself: 48-47, 45-50, 48-47. A split decision in favour of the Croatian.
Sep’s compatriot and Youth World Champion, 19-year-old Filip Hrgovic, now bore his team’s fate on his shoulders. His opponent in the heavyweight finale was Sergey Kharitonov, a well-known Russian fighter with previous experience in mixed martial arts, K1 and kick-boxing. Hrgovic made a good start but his rival did not seem to feel any pain under his punches. But the Croatian also stood his ground and used his height and reach advantage to good effect. Despite picking up a nasty bruise above his eye in the early rounds, Hrgovic withstood the harsh punishment to pick his moment and with Kharitonov seemingly tiring in the fourth round, Hrgovic even had the Russian boxer unsteady on his legs. From then on it was simply a case of holding out over the final three minutes. In another split decision, Hrgovic triumphed 49-46. 47-48. 49-46. Paris United did the unthinkable and beat the mighty Baku Fires 5-0 thanks to hero Hrgovic.
Head coach Kevin Rabaud was very proud of his men: “We are now in the finals, this is magnificent, they deserve it, but it isn’t over.” And when Michel Tavares asked “and now coach aren’t we strong?” Rabaud replied “of course you all are, if not you wouldn’t even be here.”
WSB Results for Saturday, April 9
Astana and Baku Take the First Legs of the Semi-Finals
The home teams won both of Saturday’s first-leg semi-finals as the Astana Arlans beat Los Angeles Matadors 4-1 at the Daulet Sports Complex in Astana and the Baku Fires overcame Paris United with the same score at the Serhedchi Olympic Sports Complex in Baku.
The two central Asian teams took decisive steps towards the team finals, which will be held in Guiyang, China on May 6-7 and will offer half a million dollars in prize money.
Astana Arlans 4 Los Angeles Matadors 1
Coach Many Robles’ decision to travel with his strongest squad had always seemed a risk, but Rau’Shee Warren’s early victory suggested that it was a good choice. The 2007 AIBA World Champion got the evening off to a good start for the visitors with a close win against relative newcomer Mirzhan Rakhimzhanov in the bantamweight contest (48-47, 47-48, 48-47). The win extends Warren’s unbeaten record this season to 5-0, while Rakhimzhanov, who first competed in week eight of the regular season, goes 2-2 against only three different opponents.
Things then started to unravel for the visitors as the home team’s Merey Akshalov pulled ahead in the early stages of the lightweight contest against Brazil’s Everton Lopes after dominating the first two rounds. Lopes’ response in the third and fourth was not strong enough and Akshalov finished with a win by unanimous decision (50-45, 49-46, 49-46).
After the bout, Akshalov said his fight was actually tough: “My thoughts before the match were that it would be a hard fight, because my rival was not an easy boxer and he has some good results. He is Brazil’s number one. I prayed to God to win this match, I listened to my coaches and I found all his fights on the Internet and tried to spot his weaknesses. Thanks to God I won this fight. I would like wish good luck and help from God to my friends who are going to USA.”
Kanat Slam, bronze medallist for China at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, has consistently demonstrated his power throughout the regular season. He is one of the few boxers to have won by knock-out and only one out of his three wins in the regular season went the full distance.
The naturalized Kazakh didn’t disappoint the home crowd today and continued the home team’s onslaught. After dominating the first round with 10-8 scores from all three judges, he finished off the visitor’s Russell Lamour in the second round of their middleweight encounter to win by technical knock-out.
In the closest bout of the evening, a late response by the Matadors’ “Ukraine Pain Train” Vyacheslav Shabranskyybrought him to within only a point of Ramzjon Ahmedov (Uzbekistan). But it was this single point that clinched the match for Astana Arlans, as Ahmedov’s 48-47, 48-47, 48-47 win put the home team 3-1 ahead before the heavyweight contest.
Kazakhstan’s home-grown Beijing Olympian Ruslan Myrsatayev sealed the match for the Arlans with a spectacular fourth-round knock-out against David Imoesiri in the heavyweight finale.
The Astana Arlans take a 4-1 home victory from the encounter, giving themselves a strong position ahead of the return leg in Los Angeles next Sunday, which will be the last of the four semi-finals.
Baku Fires v Paris United
Brahim Asloum clearly favoured the opposite tactic of the Los Angeles Matadors on Saturday evening, sending his more inexperienced boxers – at least in the lower weight divisions – for their first leg away match against the Baku Fires.
Georgia’s Georgi Kilanava opened the proceedings for Paris at the Serhedchi Olympic Sports Center in Baku against the more experienced Magomed Abdulhamidov – one of only two Azeri boxers on the evening’s card for the home team.
It was only the second time this season that the 24-year-old Kilanava had entered the ring, after losing to Ciprian Apodaresei in week nine and winning by a walkover in week 11.
But the Georgian put in a spirited performance against the more experienced Abdulhamidov, who ended the regular season with a 5-1 record that left him in third place in the individual rankings.
After the Azeri put his stamp on the first round, Kilanava replied to take the second, but the home boxer pulled away thereafter to take a win by unanimous decision (49-46, 49-46, 49-46). The victory is an early wedding present for Abdulhamidov, who will be celebrating his nuptials in two days.
The lightweight bout saw 2008 Olympian Abdelkader Chadi from Algeria make his début for the visitors against Russia’sSemen Grivachev of the Baku Fires, who was only contesting his third WSB bout this season.
Grivachev, gold medallist at the 2009 AIBA President’s Cup, opened up an early lead that became difficult for Chadi to counter in the closing rounds. The strong Russian secured a second important victory by unanimous decision for the home team, winning 49-46, 48-47, 49-46.
Paris United’s Stephane Cuevas, still looking for his first WSB victory, lasted only two rounds against Mahamed Nurudzinau (Belarus). The middleweight contest was stopped in the third round by the referee, who handed Nurudzinau the semi-final victory by TKO-I.
“I am glad that I won my bout by TKO and pleased our fans,” Magomed Nuridzinau declared after the match. “It is even more important that today we notched up a confident victory. We are going to Paris in a good mood.”
The scores for the remaining two bouts were far from academic, since in the event of a tie after the two semi-final legs, the individual points of each team could decide the winner.
With two of Paris United’s strongest boxers entering the ring, the light heavyweight and heavyweight bouts in Baku could prove crucial to the team’s chances of making the team final.
Ludovic Groguhe came into his light heavyweight bout against Denys Poyatsyka (Ukraine) unbeaten and was clearly determined to remain so in his crucial semi-final appearance. But Poyatyska matched him evenly through three rounds before Groguhe opened up a lead in the closing stages. The fight finished on a split decision in Groguhe’s favour (49-46, 49-46, 47-48).
Tony Yoka is the youngster of the Paris side but at 18 years old he already has two international medals to his name – a silver at the 2010 AIBA Youth World Championships and gold at the 2010 Youth Olympic Games.
Unfazed by the 4-1 record of his opponent Magomedrasul Medzhidov, who finished second in the individual rankings to qualify for the Individual Championships, Yoka showed maturity and skill against a tough opponent to open up a lead after two rounds, moving around so much that it was difficult for Medzhidov to land a punch.
But Medzhidov connected with a left in the third round that led to a standing count and signalled the turn of the bout. The home boxer took advantage of the situation to the full to win the fourth round and bring a victory within his reach. Although the judges were undecided on the final round, it was enough to give Medzhidov the decision (50-44, 48-46, 47-48) and leave the final score 4-1 to the Baku Fires.
“This bout was very difficult,” Medzhidov said after his contest. “Actually, I expected it, since my opponent earned several serious titles at 18 years old. I am glad that the contest was over in my favour. We made a very important step towards final. Now we have to demonstrate our best in France.”
In the WSB’s playoff format, each semi-finalist faces their opponent once at home and once away in the league’s five weight classes, each time with a different squad.
Paris United and the Los Angeles Matadors both face an uphill struggle at next week’s return legs. Even with the home advantage, the Matadors need to give the Arlans a 5-0 home drubbing or win by 4-1 and hope the points difference (currently 103 in Astana’s favour) clinches the final place for them.
Paris United will need a similar score to make the finals, but with the season’s second and third best boxers at bantamweight and lightweight respectively set to enter the ring, the Paris home match promises to be an exciting affair.
Photo Credit: WSB