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World Series of Boxing: Algeria suffer narrow home defeat against Azerbaijan

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In their first ever World Series of Boxing (WSB) home match, the Algeria Desert Hawks experinced a close defeat at the hands of a tough trio of boxers from Azerbaijan Baku Fires. The visitors saw Orzubek Shayimov, Jaba Kositashvili and Vladimir Cheles all prevail at the Salle Hocine-Chaalane to send their team top of Group A.

The action got underway in the Bantamweight (50-54kg) bout with Algeria's Samir Brahimi versus Azerbaijan tough Uzbek Shayimov. It was a fascinating battle between two accomplished fighters with the home boxer getting the crowd up on their feet and cheering loudly as he took the first two rounds in style. Shayimov came back strong and turned the fight on its head as his incessant pressure in the final three rounds saw him triumph to give the visitors the lead in the tie.

Algeria then got back on level terms through the guile of 2008 Beijing Olympian Abdelkader Chadi in the next contest. The 25-year-old orthodox Algerian dominated the exchanges in the opening two rounds by keeping Isa Isayev at bay with the clever use of the jab. The Azerbaijan Lightweight (57-61kg) came back to claim the third but after moving inside to good effect in the fourth, Chadi had enough about him to take the victory.

It began at frenetic pace in the Middleweight (68-73kg) bout with Azerbaijan's Kositashvili looking to stamp his authority on proceedings early on. The power of the 20-year-old rising star from Georgia had the home team's Sofiane Tabi struggling and he took the first round. The two went toe-to-toe for the following two rounds and it was the poise and precision of Kositashvili which made the difference as he conquered his inexperience rival to give the lead back to Azerbaijan.

The battle of the southpaws in the Light Heavyweight (80-85kg) showdown had Algeria's Nabil Kassel pitted against the tall Moldovan Cheles. The 23-year-old Azerbaijan fighter's unrelenting style had Kassel in trouble with the Algerian having to take a standing eight count in the second. Several more punishing combinations had Cheles well on top after three rounds. The Algerian, recruited from the pro ranks, could not contain his powerful rival and Cheles went on to win the battle to guarantee the Azeri Franchise an unassailable lead in the match, 1-3.

Star boxer Chouaib Bouloudinats restored pride for the home team after the experienced Algerian overcame the challenge of up and coming Azeri Askhab Abdulkhalikov in the last bout of the evening at Heavyweight (91+kg). The 25-year-old All-Africa Games Champion looked hungry from the onset, mixing it up well, working the body well, to reduce his team's deficit in the fixture. Ultimately it was Azerbaijan which left the Algerian capital with the points.

Algeria Desert Hawks now travel to fortress Foro Polanco to meet unbeaten Mexico Guerreros on Friday 7 December whilst Azerbaijan's visit to face Russia has been postponed until 25 January.