In last night’s much anticipated showdown between last year’s champions Paris United and the classy Italian outfit Dolce & Gabbana Milano Thunder, there were some riveting encounters between two of the most exiting teams in this season’s WSB competition. It was a real nail-biter right until the very end but once again home advantage made the difference in this one.
After failing to make weight, Geoffrey Dos Santos was unable to present himself for the Bantamweight contest, giving Milano the walk-over and the early advantage in the tie. Irish record breaker John Joe Nevin quickly restored parity with a hard fought victory in the Lightweight battle after dominating 21-year-old Serbian National champion Branimir Stankovic. Nevin has been in fine form this season, extending his unbeaten record to three wins no losses, but this triumph did not come easy with Stankovic mounting a strong fight back. Though in the end it was too little too late as the Irish 2009 AIBA World Boxing Championships bronze medallist took the fight by split decision.
Milan were back in front in the match after their Irish Middleweight William McLaughlin cut Cameroonian 29-year-old Joseph Maluma in their contest and was awarded the win by TKO. It was a quality performance that had him ahead on all three judges’ scorecards. McLaughlin is really making a name for himself this season with his fourth win of an excellent campaign for him.
Frenchman Ludovic Groguhé, who was transferred during the summer from Paris to Milan and is one of the stars of the WSB, has somehow lost him way of late and had looked out of sorts following two successive defeats. His battle against Hrvoje Sep was an opportunity to set the record straight and make him a hero with his new team. However the Croatian Light Heavyweight had other ideas, starting this fight with real intent. Groguhé began brightly, dictating the tempo of the bout from the centre of the ring but Sep, with the raucous support of the crowd, somehow turned the fight on its head in the latter stages to snatch a deserved win and drag Paris level at 2-2.
All to fight for as once more the Heavyweight face-off doubled up as the decider. Step into the ring the giant Filip Hrgovic against Polish rising star Michal Olas. At 19 years of age and measuring 198cm, Hrgovic is an imposing figure and with his experience it was a tough ask for the orthodox Pole. Clearly lifted by his compatriot’s win in the Light Heavyweight contest, Hrgovic looked hungry and in no mood to take prisoners as he completely overawed Olas from the first bell. With his opponent in real trouble in the early stages, Hrgovic stamped his authority to win by TKO in the second round, thus handing the 3:2 win to Paris United on the night.
Once again this action did not disappoint and it will be on a knife-edge for in the return leg in Italy