Two-time WSB Champions Cuba Domadores and last year’s Semi-Finalists Uzbek Tigers will come together in Havana on Friday night, with both sides looking for the win that will secure their passage to the last four of Season VII. The Uzbeks, led by Rio 2016 star Hasanboy Dusmatov, delivered a brilliant 3-2 win in the city of Samarkand a week ago, but will need all that skill and more if they are to hold on to their lead against a Cuban side filled with Olympic stars of their own.
In the evening’s opening Light Flyweight (52kg) contest, Cuba Domadores’ experienced Yosbany Veitia returns from a short hiatus following his rare defeat to Venezuela’s Yoel Finol back in Week Seven to face Tigers’ Jasurbek Latipov. The Uzbek has himself had something of a longer break from the five-round format, and will need his stamina to hold out if he is to overcome Veitia, a veteran of 20 WSB wins.
Domadores’ three-time World Lightweight (60kg) Champion Lazaro Alvarez returns to the competition with an impressive 21-1 record to his name, and meets his Season VI adversary, the recently crowned ASBC Champion Elnur Abduraimov, whom he defeated back in Season VI. At Welterweight (69kg), the hosts can then call upon the services of the supremely experienced Roniel Iglesias, who will go up against Shakhram Giyasov in the third bout of the match. The Cuban lost to Giyasov in the last eight of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games back in August, and the pair’s rematch looks set to be one of the bouts of the night.
The Domadores’ other three-time AIBA World Champion is also the current Olympic Light Heavyweight (81kg) Champion, Julio Cesar La Cruz. The backbone of the side ever since their Season IV debut, La Cruz faces Bektemir Melikuziev, himself a silver medallist in Rio at Middleweight (75kg), who has transitioned up a weight comfortably and should be an extremely tricky opponent in a potentially explosive contest.
Wrapping up the second leg, and possibly in decisive fashion, will be the Super Heavyweights (+91kg) Jose Angel Larduet and Bakhodir Jalolov. The strong Cuban has made a scintillating return to the side in place of Leinier Pero this year, but Jalolov’s speed could prove the difference in what will be an intriguing finale. Should the scores read 5-5 at the end of the second leg, the additional bout will see the hosts’ Yoandry Toirac and Uzbek Tigers’ Mirzobek Khasanov decide the match with five rounds at Super Heavyweight (+91kg).