Astana Arlans Kazakhstan qualified for their third World Series of Boxing (WSB) Final by defeating Russian Boxing Team 4-1 in the second leg of their semi-final, which gave them an overall 9-1 victory on aggregate.
Despite the 4-1 result, the second leg was a much closer event than the first night of action as Russia’s brave fighters pushed the Kazakh athletes throughout each match.
Kazakhstan will now meet defending Champions Cuba Domadores in the most eagerly anticipated WSB Final of all time.
4-1 Flyweight (52 kg) Olzhas Sattibayev confirmed Kazakhstan’s qualification when he defeated Russia’s 1-2 Karen Arutiunian in the first match of the evening.
Backed by a tremendously loud and supportive crowd, Sattibayev controlled the first three rounds with his busy style making life difficult for his Russian rival.
Arutiunian improved in the latter stages of the contest as he began to use a wider range of punches, but his late rally was not enough, and Sattibayev earned a unanimous decision victory.
Kazak Lightweight (60 kg) Zakir Safiullin then doubled the lead for his team against Artur Subkhankulov, but he was forced to work hard for his success in every second of their bout.
This was an energetic contest which saw both boxers throw many punches, but it was Safiullin whose skills impressed a little more in the first two rounds.
Subkhankulov began round three with more intent, and continually pressed forward against a more defensive Safiullin which impressed the judges in the frame.
Channelling the success of his teammates over the course of this season, the Kazakh star averted the third round crisis, and was awarded the bout by one round on all three scorecards.
Another close match was found at Welterweight (69 kg) where 2013 AIBA World Champion Daniyar Yeleussinov edged a narrow split decision win over Russian debutant Iagub Nuriev.
Although he was making his first appearance of the season, Nuriev was confident against his decorated opponent, and reacted well to losing the first two rounds by staging an incredible comeback as the five round distance suited his style.
Yeleussinov tired at the beginning of the fourth round, and was forced into a brawl with Nuriev, with the World Champion unable to control the Russian mauler in the fifth round either.
Nuriev was relentless in his attacks and he attempted to rough up Yeleussinov to force a stoppage that would give him one of the most surprising results in WSB history.
It was not to be however, as Yeleussinov held on to take the match to the scorecards, where two judges awarded him the contest by one round, with Nuriev winning on the third scorecard.
This was one of the most entertaining WSB matches of all time, and Nuriev is a boxer to watch next season.
Russia claimed their lone victory in the semi-final at Light heavyweight (81 kg) when 2-0 Eduard Yakushev outpointed Nurdaulet Zharmanov.
Yakushev lost the first round as he struggled to deal with the movement of Zharmanov, but he reacted well to the task in hand, and won all of the four remaining rounds with quick punches and rugged strength.
Super heavyweight (91+ kg) Ivan Dychko sealed the 4-1 victory for Astana Arlans, and won his opening bout of the season as he stopped Russia’s Ruslan Shamalov.
Dychko’s power was evident in the first round, and he began the second frame impressively, with a huge right hand sending Shamalov down the canvas.
The Russian athlete was brave in returning to his feet, but the referee was forced to stop the contest as he was in no position to continue.
Astana Arlans Kazakhstan has now won 15 of their 16 matches this season, and will be full of confidence heading into their Final with Cuba Domadores.