After Caciques Venezuela defeated Rafako Hussars Poland on Friday night, Italia Thunder knew that they needed to beat Astana Arlans Kazakhstan to move into the last qualification spot in Group B of the World Series of Boxing (WSB).
It was a difficult proposition to imagine however, as Kazakhstan had won all 13 of their matches in Season V of the competition.
Additionally, the fixture carried huge significance for some of the competitors in action, as it was their last chance to earn a qualification quota for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games through WSB.
The most important bout of the evening from an individual level was at Light heavyweight (81 kg), where 7-0 home star Valentino Manfredonia and 6-1 Hrvoje Sep competed against each other knowing that whoever won would earn a Rio 2016 quota, while the loser would miss out.
It was a tremendously entertaining fight with plenty of exciting action from both competitors.
Manfredonia took control in the first three rounds as he displayed the skilful style that had resulted in so much success this season, while the resolute Sep improved as the fight progressed.
Despite the late surge from Sep, all three of the judges awarded Manfredonia the decision, which saw him finish the group stages top of the Light heavyweight rankings, and with a valuable Rio 2016 quota.
The win also secured Italy’s overall victory on the night, which made the night even more memorable for Manfredonia.
Another fighter who earned an Olympic quota was Astana Arlans Super heavyweight (91+ kg) Filip Hrgovic, who took his season record to 7-0 after stopping reigning Italian Champion Alessio Spahiu in round two of their bout.
This was Hrgovic’s fifth TKO win of the campaign, and the Croatian is perhaps the most powerful puncher in all of WSB.
Only one Rio 2016 quota was available from the Super heavyweight division, which makes Hrgovic one of the best in the world at his weight class.
Italy opened the evening with victory at Flyweight (52 kg) when India’s Gaurav Bidhuri edged a split decision win over Kazakhstan's 1-1 Miras Zhakupov.
Although one judge had Zhakupov winning all five rounds, the other two scored the contest in favour of Bidhuri by a single point.
2-1 Italian Donato Cosenza then scored a victory over Roman Chshegrinov at Lightweight (60 kg), as his excellent start to the fight impressed the judges.
Kazakhstan's second success of the night was secured by Welterweight (69 kg) Aslanbek Shymbergenov who outpointed Ireland’s Adam Nolan.
Amazing Azerbaijan Baku Fires outperform Argentina Condors 5-0 in Guba
World Series of Boxing (WSB) Season IV runners-up Azerbaijan Baku Fires ended the Regular Season of Season V with a 5-0 home win over Argentina Condors.
Azerbaijan have finished the group stages in second place, and will be at home to Mexico Guerreros in the quarter-finals, while Argentina stay bottom of the Group B table.
The Baku Fires began this fixture with a 1-0 lead after Argentina’s Luis Alberto Veron was unable to compete in his match with Azeri Welterweight (69 kg) Parviz Baghirov.
3-1 Murad Rabadanov enjoyed Azerbaijan’s first in-ring success of the night by winning every round against 0-2 Argentine Flyweight (52 kg) Ricardo Maximiliano Ibarra.
Rabadanov was dominant with both hands, and dropped Ibarra in the second round with a fierce left hook which was a constant weapon in the bout.
20-year-old WSB debutant Nasraddin Mammadov then won his opening match in the competition, and sealed the overall victory for Azerbaijan with a shutout performance over 1-5 Brian Ivan Nunez.
Mammadov expertly displayed his supreme head movement and excellent reflexes, which left Nunez unable to hit the Azeri fighter cleanly at any time.
2012 Olympian Mikhail Dauhaliavets made it 4-0 for the Baku Fires at Light heavyweight (81 kg) with a quick stoppage of Juan Gabriel Rizzo Patrón at the end of the first round.
The Belarusian fighter has been a fantastic WSB competitor through the years, and his outstanding punch which dropped the Condor in round one was a classic Dauhaliavets shot.
In the last fight of the evening, 2-1 Super heavyweight (91+ kg) Haji Murtuzaliyev secured the whitewash for Azerbaijan after widely outpointing Facundo Cesar Ghiglione.