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Having only suffered one defeat at home over the past three seasons, Azerbijan Baku Fires go into their home match against Mexico Guerreros in Group A as overwhelming favourites at the Olympic Sports Center 'Serhedchi' this Saturday 15 December (19:00 local time). With 2007 AIBA World Champion Albert Selimov and 2011 AIBA World Champion Magomedrasul Mezhidov both set to grace the canvas, it will be a tough undertaking for the visitors to come away with any points from this encounter.
22-year-old Russian Magomed Kurbanov will get the action underway when he seeks to protect his unbeaten record against Mexican debutant Cristian Jesus Torres Becerra at Bantamweight (50-54kg). The orthodox Kurbanov represented Azerbaijan last season, notching up three wins in as many fights. Torres Becerra will have to box out of his skin if he plans to beat the odds here.
At Lightweight (57-61kg), Azerbaijan's stylish Russian Selimov will be tasked with dealing with the threat of Mexican teenager Fernando Alvarez Diaz. Selimov is one the world's most decorated boxers and looked made for the pro style of WSB in his previous appearance in the competition. Orthodox fighter Alvarez Diaz impressed in week two with a sensational display against Poland's Jacek Adam Wylezol. The calibre of Selimov is undeniable so he should have the edge in this one.
Azerbaijan's uncompromising Belarusian southpaw Mahamed Nurudzinau will then battle exciting Irish talent Conrad Cummings in the night's Middleweight (68-73kg) contest. The 21-year-old Irishman has all the attributes to really make his mark in this competition and it will be very interesting to see how he fares against such an experienced opponent.
Cummings was eager to test himself in WSB, stating, "I am really looking forward to my first fight, I am now more ready than ever! I feel the pro style will really suit me, everyone is always saying that I box like a pro so now is the time to showcase it. I wanted to turn pro a while back, as I have always been really keen on it! Now I have the opportunity to box as a pro and keep my Olympic status, and I am still only 21. I am privileged to be a part of the Mexico Guerreros and I will fight with pride wearing their colours on Saturday".
On his opponent, he continued, "I have watched a bit of him, he is ten years older than I am so he will certainly have the experience. He looks strong and a solid puncher. I have prepared extremely well and feel I am more than capable of beating him. I cannot wait for Showtime!"
Gadzhimurad Nasrudinov will then be making his WSB bow for Azerbaijan versus Mexico's 20-year-old orthodox fighter Isaac Munoz Gutierrez. The away boxer has a huge height and reach advantage in this one and after magnificently dispatching of Poland's Michal Gerlecki in week two, he will be high on confidence. It will be an intriguing Light Heavyweight (80-85kg) match-up, with Azerbaijan's Nasrudinov keen to make an impression on home soil.
All eyes with then turn to Azeri Heavyweight (91+kg) superstar Mezhidov when he faces 22-year-old Mexican Alex Rivera in the last bout of the evening. The host's heavy-hitting orthodox fighter was one of the big stars of WSB season one and after claiming a bronze medal at the London 2012 Olympic Games this summer, he will be eager to remind his supporters of his talent after a year away from the team. Rivera has yet to win in the competition so Medzhidov will be relishing this contest.
The reigning World Champion told us, "I want to put on a show for the spectators in Baku. I feel great and want to show the world that I am in the best shape of my life".
With such stellar names in their line-up, it is difficult to see beyond Azerbaijan for the win, however Mexico are always tough customers and with their knowledge and understanding of this league, they could spring a surprise.
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