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This mouth-watering World Series of Boxing (WSB) match promises to be one quality affair with two of this early season's outstanding teams going head-to-head. Astana Arlans Kazakhstan will be battling a tough British Lionhearts outfit at the Almaty Sports Palace this Saturday 8 December (20:30 local time) with the winner guaranteed to sit pretty at the top of Group B. Kazakhstan will be relying on the speed of Yerzhan Mussafirov, the element of surprise from Ainar Karlson and the power of Filip Hrgovic to counter the threat posed by the visitors.
Kazakhstan's Miras Zhakupov looked like an accomplished fighter in his first WSB outing in week one. However the explosive Brit Gamal Yafai will represent a much tougher challenge for the Bantamweight (50-54kg) orthodox 23-year-old. Yafai has real pedigree, having collected a bronze medal at the 2010 European Championships, and his style is sure to get the crowds up on their feet right from the off.
The Lionhearts' London 2012 Olympian Josh Taylor, the first ever Scot to compete in WSB, will then be making his debut against the competition's inaugural season's top ranked Lightweight (57-61kg) Mussafirov. 2010 Commonwealth Games bronze medallist Taylor will have a huge height and reach advantage over his rival and will hope to carry on the form he has shown throughout 2012 against the experienced Mussafirov. The 27-year-old Kazak has lost his way since reaching the top of the charts in season one and will hope to recapture that spark in front of his own fans.
Taylor stated, "It will be great to box in WSB for the first time. I know the competition will suit my style and I cannot wait to face my opponent. The aim is for the team to maintain the level of performance we have shown in the previous two matches. We have had a great start to life in WSB and we will be looking for another win in Kazakhstan".
The Middleweight (68-73kg) contest will see the host's Israeli hardman Konstantin Snigur pitted against another emerging talent from Scotland, Aston Brown. This one will be experience versus youth with 29-year-old Snigur facing the young Lionhearts debutant. It promises to be a real clash of styles with the Scottish boxer also having a huge height advantage over his opponent in this one.
24-year-old Estonian Karlson will be another making his maiden WSB appearance as the Kazak team's Light Heavyweight (80-85kg) faces experienced Swede Babacar Kamara. This one will be tight with both boxers keen on getting their careers in the competition off to a good start. Karlson has the reach but Kamara is a savvy operator so it will be tough to call.
Reigning WSB Heavyweight (91+kg) Individual Champion Hrgovic is fast becoming one of the star attraction of WSB and the Astana Arlans Kazakhstan giant will want to continue showing the world he truly is a great in the making. The Croat faces a real test of his credentials though when he meets one of the African continent's top boxers in Mohamed Arjaoui of Morocco. Both fighters know the competition well and with both being notorious heavy-hitters, the spectators will surely be relishing this bout.
Hrgovic told us, "I have been training hard for this one. I have seen several of Arjaoui fights andI can say he is an excellent fighter but I know I am in better shape than he is. We are confident that our team will put on a great show for the crowds and claim the win". On the opposition, he was very positive, stating, "The Lionhearts have some fantastic boxers and it will be very interesting to face them. I am positive that the victory will be ours".
The packed arena will ensure a sensational atmosphere for this match and with top spot in Group at stake, the boxers are bound to be throwing caution to the wind and go all out for the win.
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