China Dragons faced Patriot Boxing Team for the first time in Season VII on Saturday, and it was the Russian side that came away from the Group C encounter with all three points thanks to a spirited performance in Sanya. Victory gets the Patriots’ season up and running as they leapfrog China in the table, but there is still a long way to go before the Play-Off places are decided.
Two incredibly tight bouts got the evening under way. The first, between Flyweights (52kg) Chang Yong and Ovik Ogannisian, swung in favour of one corner then the other before Yong managed to carve out a significant lead with some well-timed jabs to edge the split decision and give the home side the early window. The Dragons were soon pegged back to 1-1, however, when Rio 2016 Lightweight (60kg) Shan Jun was undone by Russian newcomer Shahriyor Akhmedov in the second bout of the night. Akhmedov has only recently moved up from Bantamweight, but survived and early onslaught and looked comfortable in the final round to level the tie.
Hu Richabilige arrived in a rich vein of form to face Artem Zaytsev at Welterweight (69kg), and certainly started the brighter of the two with some big right jabs finding their target early on. The match turned after Zaytsev had his opponent rocked midway through the third, eventually earning a unanimous win that saw his side into a 2-1 lead. That meant China’s veteran Light Heavyweight (81kg) Shi Guojun needed to win to keep the match alive, but he faced Danil Shved, the 33-year-old Russian with an established WSB career reaching right back to Season I. Shved assumed control of the bout early on and remained unruffled through to the final bell, Guojun staying resilient to the last but unable to respond in the face of some thorough pressure.
With the match out of reach at 3-1, Dragons’ Super Heavyweight (+91kg) Wang Leilei met Russia’s Maxim Babanin to try and secure a bonus point for the home side. The Chinese debutant had a considerable reach advantage over his opponent, but Babanin scored more freely early on, landing sufficient combinations to build a slender lead that he refused to relinquish, eventually guiding the Patriots to a 4-1 win.