Season VI of the World Series of Boxing got underway in spectacular fashion on Saturday night, as WSB debutants the Türkiye Conquerors secured a hard-earned win against the China Dragons in Istanbul.
A home win quickly looked unlikely, with the Dragons’ light flyweight He Junjun taking the honour of winning the first bout of the season, his energy keeping him on top against the tough Turkish southpaw Hamza Kartal. Having overcome his early nerves, Junjun turned up the heat in the third round, landing some excellent counter-punches to secure a fourth career WSB win and a dream start for the visitors.
That left the inexperienced 19-year-old Turkish bantamweight Hakan Cigdem to try and regain control of the match for the Conquerors, but a big left in the opening round from his opponent Xu Boxiang put him on the back foot. That dominance continued until the fourth round, when a technical knockout ended the one-sided affair to give the Dragons a commanding 2-0 lead.
London 2012 Olympian Yakup Sener. The Turkish team’s most experienced boxer steadied the ship with a masterful and controlling display, his quick jabs proving too much for his fleet-footed opponent Meng Caicheng. As the judges awarded Sener the bout, Turkey were suddenly given a route back into the match.
The China Dragons’ 28-year-old middleweight Zhao Minggang then had the opportunity to take the tie beyond the home team’s reach against Evren Tibukoglu, five years his junior. Zhao landed cleanly in the opening round, but a series of lethal uppercuts from Tibukoglu in the second round handed him control of the bout and ultimately brought Turkey back to 2-2 on the night.
With the match wonderfully poised, Turkey’s top heavyweight Seyda Keser seized the moment to deliver a stunning performance and an unlikely victory for the home team. The Dragons’ 20-year-old Yu Fengkai rarely looked in the contest and was knocked down in the second round before his team called time on the bout, leaving Turkey to celebrate an incredible victory in a frantic packed arena.