An outstanding performance in Guba from Mexico Guerreros resulted in a sensational 4-1 victory for the North American Franchise over Season IV runners up Azerbaijan Baku Fires in the first leg of the World Series of Boxing (WSB) quarter-final.
Mexico dominated the contest from the outset, and took advantage of an inexperienced Azeri team to reign supreme in Guba.
This result means that Azerbaijan need to win at least four legs in tomorrow’s second leg to give themselves any chance of qualifying for the semi-finals, while Mexico know that two victories will take them through to the last four, where they would meet defending Champions Cuba Domadores.
The night began with an outstanding performance at Light flyweight (49 kg) from Mexico’s Joselito Velázquez Altamirano who took his season record to 7-1 after defeating 1-3 Rasul Saliev.
Altamirano used his speed and skills to tremendous effect throughout the contest, with his elusive nature a hindrance for Saliyev whose forward style proved ineffective.
All three judges awarded the contest to Altamirano 50-44, 49-45, and 49-46.
The Guerreros took a 2-0 lead after Bantamweight (56 kg) Sergio Alfredo Chirino Sánchez achieved his first win of the campaign in a close contest with Baku Fires debutant Yashar Magomedov.
Both boxers worked tremendously hard in the bout, but the WSB experience of Sánchez was the main difference between the two, and he took control of the first four rounds using clever punches and lateral movement.
Magomedov remained composed despite the onslaught, and claimed the last round on all three scorecards to finish the fight with credit.
It was not enough however, and Sánchez secured the contest 49-46 according to one scorer, and 48-47 from the remaining two judges.
Mexico secured the overall advantage in the first leg and took an unassailable 3-0 lead after 7-1 Light welterweight (64 kg) Raúl Curiel García widely outpointed Zaur Abdullayev.
García has been one of the standout competitors in all of WSB this season, and was the better boxer from the very first moments of the contest.
One of the main attributes of the Mexican boxer is his remarkable head movement, which enables him to evade punches while setting up his own attacks.
Considering it was his WSB debut, Abdullayev was not overawed but he couldn’t keep up with García’s endless stamina and punch output, and the Guerrero dropped just one round on all three scorecards.
After losing the first three fights in Guba, Azerbaijan Baku Fires claimed a priceless win at Middleweight (75 kg) when 3-2 Jaba Khositashvili outfought 2-5 Misael Uriel Rodríguez Oliva.
This was a ferocious battle, fought mostly in the middle of the ring, and neither man took a backwards step despite the high tempo.
Khositashvili started well, and negotiated his way through Oliva’s rough tactics to take the first three rounds on all of the scorecards.
His left hand was a sharp weapon early on, while the Mexican fighter tended to rely on uppercuts and hooks.
After a fast opening three rounds, the Baku Fires man appeared to slow dramatically in the fourth, and Oliva took advantage to consistently pressure his opponent and take the round in convincing fashion.
Backed by an amazing home crowd, Khositashvili found a second wind in the last three minutes, and though he again lost the round, his rugged defence enabled him to remain on his feet, and to ultimately claim the contest via unanimous decision.
Mexico Guerreros sealed the 4-1 first leg victory after a tremendously enthralling Heavyweight (91 kg) battle where Ecuador’s 4-0 Julio Cesar Castillo Torres defeated 0-1 Leonid Charnabayeu.
Every round in this fight was dramatic and intriguing, with Charnabayeu consistently moving forward and applying pressure, while Torres utilised a defensive style which served him well.
The Ecuadorian was the faster fighter and his hand speed proved problematic for Charnabayeu, and though the Baku Fires boxer won the first round, he could not maintain the momentum.
Heading into the last round, everything was still to play for, with Torres leading by a round on two scorecards, with the other two cards even.
Again Charnabayeu pushed forward, and battled constantly to accurately hit his South American opponent, but the footwork of Torres was too much to handle, and he was eventually awarded the decision unanimously.