By Alexey Sukachev
2012/2013 season of the World Series of Boxing ended in thrilling fashion several hours ago at Saryarka Velodrome in Astana, Kazakhstan as the “Astana Arlans”, a local franchise with a deep injection of quality foreigners, barely overcame tough-as-nails “Ukrainian Otamans”, led by the two-time Olympic gold medalist Vasyl Lomachenko (widely regarded as the best amateur fighter of the last decade) and his heavyweight compatriot Olexander Usyk, with a slight taste of controversy.
The fate of the series was defined in a tie-breaker, after both teams ended a two-day battle on even terms. Ukrainian fans protested official decisions vehemently as they felt that Kazakhs got a substantial boost from the judges.
Arlans, guided by the rebellious Ukrainian import Sergey Derevyanchenko (who was unable to make a highly regarded 2012 Ukrainian Olympic squad despite shining as one of the WSB’s brightest stars) and Croatian Hrvoje Sep, prompted to a successful start on Friday with a narrow 3-2 win, but effectively eliminating Ukrainian team’s biggest stars. Both Usyk and Lomachenko were once again unstoppable, getting big wins at their rival’s backyard, but it wasn’t enough to get an early lead, as their teammates failed to follow them in their footsteps.
Tonight, the war was even more heated. Miras Zhakupov gave Arlans an early lead but Otamans came back strong with three consecutive victories, including the TKO win by Olexander Gvozdik, another stellar Ukrainian amateur. Ukraine was leading 5-4 at this time but then Ruslan Mursataev got the better of Rostislav Akhripenko evening the score, and, finally, in a tie-breaker, bantamweight Bagdad Alimbekov decisioned Otamans’ only legionnaire Alexander Riscan of Moldova to get his team a final win with a razor-thin score 6-5.
Friday, May 10
Bantamweight: Meirbolat Taitov (AA) UD 5 Victor Gogolev (UO) – 50:45 (x3)
Lightweight: Vasyl Lomachenko (UO) UD 5 Samat Bashenov (AA) – 50:44, 49:45, 49:45
Middleweight: Sergey Derevyanchenko (AA) UD 5 Evgueny Barabanov (UO) – 50:45 (x3)
Light Heavyweight: Hrvoje Sep (AA) UD 5 Sergey Lapin (UO) – 50:45 (x3)
Heavyweight: Olexander Usyk (UO) UD 5 Mihaj Nestor (AA) – 49:46 (x3)
Final score of the day: Astana Arlans 3 – 2 Ukrainian Otamans
Saturday, May 11
Bantamweight: Miras Zhakupov (AA) UD 5 Mykola Butsenko (UO) – 49:46 (x2), 48:47
Lightweight: Vyacheslav Kislitsin (UO) UD 5 Eric Martin Donovan (AA) – 49:45 (x2), 49:46
Middleweight: Dmytro Mitrofanov (UO) UD 5 Kontsantin Snigur (AA) – 49:46 (x2), 50:45
Light Heavyweight: Olexander Gvozdik (UO) TKO 3 Ehsan Rouzbahani (AA). Time: 2:26.
Heavyweight: Ruslan Myrsataev (AA) SD 5 Rostislav Arhypenko (UO) – 47:48, 48:47, 49:46.
Final score of the day: Ukrainian Otamans 3 – 2 Astana Arlans
Bantamweight (TB): Bagdad Alimbekov (AA) UD 5 Alexander Riscan (UO) – 50:45 (x2), 49:46.
Final score: Astana Arlans 6 – 5 Ukrainian Otamans