The WSB Season VI Semi-Final between British Lionhearts and Astana Arlans Kazakhstan gets underway on Thursday evening in East London’s York Hall, with both teams eager to gain a crucial first-leg advantage in their quest to join Cuba Domadores in this year’s final.
The light flyweight, bantamweight, light welterweight, middleweight and heavyweight boxers will be in action first, feauring two of their top Lionhearts’ Galal Yafai and Pat McCormack who will be crucial to the home side if they are to successfully overcome the defending champions.
Key Bout One: Galal Yafai GBR vs. Yerzhan Zhomart KAZ (49kg)
British Lionhearts’ Galal Yafai, brother of undefeated pro boxer Khalid Yafai came through the ranks to make a spectacular WSB debut in the team’s win against the Mexico Guerreros, beating their top light flyweight and double Panamerican Champion Joselito Velasquez.
Astana Arlans’ Yerzhan Zhomart has won a number of big tournaments including the historical Strandja Memorial Tournament most recently in February. Zhomart’s first WSB appearance was his victory over Venezuela Caciques’ Angelino Cordova last month, and while Yafai holds a 10cm height advantage, Zhomart’s speed and agility will make him a tough target to reach.
Key Bout Two: Pat McCormack GBR vs. Samat Bashenov KAZ (64kg)
British Lionhearts’ Pat McCormack made his WSB debut with an outstanding win over USA Knockouts’ young Gary Russell in Miami, but an even bigger challenge awaited in the form of Mexico Guerreros’ Olympic qualified boxer Raul Curiel. Infront of his home crowd. McCormack delivered a stirring performance that earned him recognition, and now the former Junior World Champion will be looking to prove himself against the experienced Arlans veteran Samat Bashenov.
As the Arlans’ team captain Bashenov has already won two WSB team titles together with the Arlans his experience could be the deciding factor to the Kazakh side as they make the long journey to London. Bashenov managed to beat the strong Venezuelan Luis Arcon in the Quarter Final and it remains to be seen if this win can propel him to a similar dominating performance against the hungry Lionheart McCormack.