ASTANA – Kazakh boxing club Astana Arlans beat the Baku Fires from Azerbaijan 3:2 in the first semifinal round match of the World Series of Boxing (WSB) held on April 26 in Almaty, before losing in Baku in a controversial match, 2:3 on May 3.
The first leg of the semifinals was held at the Almaty Sport Palace, giving the Kazakh team the home advantage, a privilege the Baku Fires enjoyed in the second leg in Azerbaijan.
The results were: Temirtas Zhusupov (49 kg) defeated Khamza Nametov — 3:0 (49:46, 49:46, 50:45), Madi Shulakov (56 kg) lost to Gairbek Germakhanov — 1:2 (46:49, 47:48, 49:46), Askhat Ualikhanov (64 kg) was beaten by Gaibatulla Gadzhialiyev — 1:2 (50:45, 46:49, 47:48), Sergey Derevyanchenko (75 kg) won with a technical knockout against Soltan Migitinov, and Vasily Levyt (91 kg) was victorious over Abdulkadir Abdullayev — 3:0 (49:46, 50:45, 50:45).
In Baku, Astana Arlans faced off against tough decisions from the referees. The match left many boxing experts puzzled about the result and as one of the Kazakh reporters wittily concluded, the Astana Arlans-Baku Fires fight “was won by the referees.”
The first bout in the 52 kg category pitted Ilyas Suleimenov from Arlans against Elvin Mamishzada. The Fire’s fighter seemed to be overwhelmed by his fatigue in the 4th and 5th rounds had thrown back a few punches, but the Kazakh boxer outclassed him with his technique and precision. The referees still preferred Azeri boxer and gave him the win.
In the 60 kg category, the bout was quick. The captain of the Astana Arlans Samat Bashenov, who had previously lost to his opponent Albert Selimov, in the first round had a good number of precise jabs. In the first round, Bashenov lost to Selimov with 9:10, 9:10, 9:10. On the 34th second of the 2nd round, Bashenov got a split eyebrow. The WSB doctor surprisingly announced a technical knock-out and the score was 0:2.
“We have our own doctor and we would have continued the fight even though the eyebrow split was serious and [Bashenov] got stiches afterwards,” the coach of the Astana Arlans Sergei Korchinsky commented on the TKO.
In the 69 kg category, Manat Omerzakov faced Yauheni Ramashkevich of the Baku Fires and the win was given to the Azeri fighter once again.
The welterweight fight had some controversy for the Astana Arlans as the captain of the National Team and World Champion Daniyar Yeleussinov who was chosen to represent Kazakhstan in Azerbaijan decided not to fight. The management of the Arlans had already sent another welterweight boxer Meirim Nursultanov home and they had only three days to prepare Manat Omerzakov to fight Ramashkevich.
“Manat is similar in boxing manner to Ramashkevich and he had some successful moments, but overall Ramashkevich outclassed him,” Korchinsky said.
In light heavyweight 81 kg category, Hrvoje Sep fought against the Baku Fires’ Mikhail Daukaliavets from Bulgaria. The Baku Fires boxer kept clinching Sep from the first round. Sep managed to connect a number of uppercuts while in clinch. In the fourth round, Daukaliavets had some impressive moments, but Sep beat Daukaliavets as a result to get the first point for Astana 1:3.
In the 91 kg fight the 21-year-old heavyweight Astana’s Croatian Filip Hrgovic (13WP / 5TKO), who despite his young age has been in WSB since the first season, faced Haji Murtazaliev (4WP/3TKO). Murtazaliev took a good punching from Croatian for four rounds and eventually Murtuzaliev was given an 8 count in round four but even then in the end, despite Hrgovic’s dominance and a knock down the referee lifted Murtuzaliev’s hand.
Sports.kz wrote: “Hrgovic-Murtuzaliev fight barely started when the live score on the official website disappeared and (…) then suddenly Filip lost before coming to the ring”. The Astana Arlans fans were outraged and the posts with the scoring screen shot went viral on social media.
“New rules state that you can appeal against referee decision only. (…) Everyone knew that Cuba was going into the finals. The Cuba-Russia fight was not as important as ours, but all the WSB representatives were there and none came to our fight. That says a lot. And the computer broke right before the deciding fight. As always,” the head coach of the Astana Arlans commented.
The Kazakh London 2012 Olympic Champion, Val Barker Trophy holder Serik Sapiyev also commented on the referees’ decision in the last fight:
“Fine, perhaps in round one Azeri boxer could punch back, the bout was somewhat equal but in the last three rounds he was clueless as to what to do and sought shelter from the Kazakh boxer. Additionally, he was given a warning, knocked down and still won,” Sapiyev commented. “This is boxing, anything could happen, and it has happened to me too, and I am outraged by this,” he added.
PR Director of the Samruk Kazyna Fund, Board Member of the Presidential Professional Sports Club Astana Aidar Makhmetov also commented on the most controverial match: “First, everybody saw that Hrgovic drove his opponent around the ring, who was looking for the fifth corner. These were two boxers of completely different classes. Secondly, there was a big mistake on behalf of the referees: in a round where Hrgovic won by knock down, the points were counted incorrectly. As far as I know, according to the rules of the WSB, the points are counted as in professional boxing – the winner receives 10 points, the loser – nine. If the knockdown was recorded, the score should not have been 10:9, but 10:8. Also, the score is counted like that if one of the boxers gets a warning. I would say that Hrgovic should have won this round from all three judges 10:8. And what did we see? Two judges gave 10:9 to Philip, and the third and all saw the victory of Azerbaijani – 9:10. We witnessed a huge mistake that cost us a victory in the end. Given the bias of referees, Azerbaijani boxer in this fight had to remain standing.”