Cuba’s historic entry into AIBA Pro Boxing (APB) on Friday night in Kemerevo resulted in a debut victory for Welterweight (69 kg) Arisnoidys Despaigne (CUB), as he put on a boxing clinic against Dimitros Tsagrakos (GRE).
An elaborate opening at the Arena Sports and Entertainment Complex produced an electric atmosphere, and the many fans in attendance warmly received both fighters as they made their way to the ring.
Despaigne exuded confidence in the opening stages of the match, which began by the Cuban fighting off the back foot and using a sharp left jab to accurately deduce the correct angles for more dangerous attacks.
As the early rounds progressed, Despaigne’s shots began to carry more power, but Tsagrakos took them well, and on the rare occasions he let his own punches go, he managed to tag his decorated opponent with the right hook.
Those moments were all too rare however, with Despaigne’s elusive moment enabling him to begin boxing on the front foot, and a more physical match began to develop.
Although the Cuban AIBA World Championships silver medalist was winning the rounds, Tsagrakos grew in ambition through the middle stages, and never wilted despite the immense pressure he was facing.
By the beginning of round six, both men were in unchartered territory as neither had competed past five rounds in their careers, but despite wilting stamina, each athlete shook off any fatigue to constantly move forward as the war of attrition became an intensely entertaining contest.
Despaigne opened up the seventh round with a series of blistering combinations, which perfectly showcased the full range of shots he has accumulated over the course of his lengthy career.
Tsagrakos yet again stood firm, and lasted through to the final bell of the eighth and final round.
After the scorecards from each of the three judges were handed in, Despaigne’s hand was raised by the referee, and it was announced he had the match won on each and every card by scores of 80:71, and 79:73 x2.
The performance of the Cuban was absolutely stunning, and represented a perfect start for his legendary boxing nation in APB.
He will next meet fellow 2013 AIBA World Championships bronze medalist Arajik Marutjan (GER) in Cycle I Round 2, after the German star widely outpointed Amin Ghasemi Pour (IRI).
Two further important matches took place in Russia, beginning with a surprise victory for Gyula Kate (HUN) over the number one ranked Ray 'Boom Boom' Okwiri (KEN).
Kate dominated the early stages of the match, before a valiant fightback from Okwiri took the fight to new levels.
It was the Hungarian competitor who eventually prevailed however, winning his first match in APB on two scorecards, with the third judge seeing the fight as a draw.
His performance will be rewarded with a Cycle I Round 2 clash with Andrey Zamkovoy (RUS), and the winner of that bout shall earn a qualification quota for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, plus an APB title match against Welterweight Champion Onur Sipal (TUR).
Zamkovoy was forced to work hard in every second of his engrossing clash with Eimantas Stanionis (LIT), but ultimately prevailed by a narrow margin.
Supported passionately by his home supporters in Kemerevo, Zamkovoy made the most of his height advantage against Stanionis, whose pressure based tactics frequently made life very uncomfortable for his Russian rival.
After losing two of the first three rounds, Zamkovoy found his range from the fourth frame onwards, which eventually led to two judges awarding him the contest 77:75 and 77:74, while the third scorer had the fight level at 76:76.
· Arajik Marutjan (GER) W.P. (79:73/ 79:73/ 78:74) vs Amin Ghasemi Pour (IRI)
· Arisnoidys Despaigne (CUB) W.P. (79:73/ 80:71/ 79:73) vs Dimitros Tsagrakos (GRE)
· Ray 'Boom Boom' Okwiri (KEN) vs Gyula Kate (HUN) W.P. (75:77/ 75:77/ 76:76)
· Andrey Zamkovoy (RUS) W.P. (77:75/ 77:74/ 76:76) vs Eimantas Stanionis (LIT)