Cuba remain the premier side in AIBA boxing as they beat Kazakhstan in WSB nals, writes John Dennen
THE long-awaited final of the World Series of Boxing took place over two legs, spread across three days and two different cities in China. Ultimately in the team event the Cuba Domadores defeated the Kazakhstan Astana Arlans 7-3 to become champions.
Cuba and Kazakhstan have dominated this competition, now winning it three times each. On this occasion the Domadores had some star names in action, although Olympic gold medallist Arlen Lopez was notable by his absence.
Rio 2016 champion Julio La Cruz was in action at the Jinjiang Zuchang Stadium in Jinjiang on Friday (September 28). Since his shock loss in the Chemistry Cup there have been questions for La Cruz to answer, but he performed with familiar style against Bek Nurmaganbet. The Kazakh applied the right tactics himself, advancing on La Cruz with intelligent pressure. Soon La Cruz had relaxed. He moved from side to side, often with his hands down at his waist. Nurmaganbet reached for him with hooks, but struggled to connect. La Cruz cooly brought him on to a lead left hook. The Kazakh began to drive in combinations, slamming in his backhand left. La Cruz manoeuvred away. He fired a right straight to the body. Nurmaganbet struck back with a cross to the jaw but La Cruz would continue to slip and slide clear.
He maintained his form in the fifth and last round, swatting his back hand down, withstanding another cross from the Kazakh and taking a unanimous decision.
Roniel Iglesias clung on to pocket the decision against Aslanbek Shymbergenov. In the opening half of the bout the Cuban showed off the skills that saw him take Olympic gold in 2012. That left the Kazakh with one choice - to rough him up. He bundled Iglesias to the canvas, fell forward behind his cross to tie up Iglesias. His roughhouse tactics took their toll on the Cuban, tiring him as Shymbergenov came on strongly in the fifth round. Both finished cut and bleeding, but a unanimous decision went to Iglesias.
An excellent match up pitted Kazakhstan’s Zakir Safiullin against Lazaro Alvarez. The latter hit his stride, his mobility meant Safiullin could not pin him down and Alvarez fired in combinations. The Cuban took a wide unanimous decision victory.
The Arlans’ Saken Bibossinov scored an important win, levelling the team score when he opened the show in Jinjiang and beat flyweight Jorge Grinan Merencio on a unanimous decision.
The Cubans though had the match won by the time Jose Larduet took the stage in the second leg. But the superheavyweight made sure he finished the event in style. He took the fight straight to Kamshybek Kunkabayev. Larduet hammered the southpaw with hooks, winning a unanimous decision.
The Domadores had picked up a 3-2 lead in the first leg of the final that took place at the Xiamen Sports School Gymnasium in Xiamen on September 26. Quality heavyweight Erislandy Savon secured the significant win to put his team ahead. He exerted total control over Nurbol Altayev. It was target practise as he handed the Kazakh a standing count on his way to unanimous decision win.
Gifted light-welter Andy Cruz outpointed Dilmurat Mizhitov, though he deserved a wider margin than a split decision.
Light-flyweight Temirtas Zhussupov secured a win for the Kazakh team in the first bout of the match, using movement reminiscent of a Cuban to bring
Damian Arce Duarte to him, fire in shots and take a unanimous decision.
Osvel David Caballero Garcia, at 56kgs, secured a unanimous decision win over
Ilyas Suleimenov. Imposing 75kgs Abilkhan Amankul took a unanimous decision victory over
Osleys Iglesias Estrada.
LEADING THE WAY: Cuban lightheavyweight Julio La Cruz shows off his style