Mumbai Fighters tamed by Astana Arlans

Mumbai: On a high after blanking the LA Matadors 5-0 in their previous match, India`s only WSB franchisee Mumbai Fighters suffered a huge jolt to their campaign as the team`s energy-sapped boxers were easily tamed by a similar margin by the Kazakhstan-based Astana Arlans in the round five match on Friday night.

Mumbai`s fighters were unable to compete after her first couple of rounds as two of their boxers -- Diwakar Prasad (lightweight) and Sanjin Pol Vrgoc (middle-weight) threw in the towel even before the five rounds were completed and their opponents were declared victorious by a technical knockout.

The night had began promisingly, as 2002 World Cadet Champion Balbir Singh managed to land a few punches in the first round against his bantamweight opponent Khabibullah Ismail Akhunov.

It was all downhill for Balbir and the Fighters after the first round as they failed to put up any fight.

Balbir looked completely drained and exhausted as Akhunov landed several punches on his head and also knocked him off his feet nine times.

In the third round, the Jamshedpur lad received a warning for committing a foul on his opponent. That did rattle the Kazakh for a second but it was the only thing that shook him for the match as the three judges gave an unanimous verdict -- 44-50; 44-50; 44-49 in his favour.

Balbir, who had to be attended twice in between rounds, also seemed to suffer an injury just above his eye.

Much was expected of lightweight boxer Diwakar Prasad, who has been recently crowned the national champion, but he too flattered to deceive.

Competing against Kazakh`s Mussafirov Yerzhan, who had a 7-3 WSB record prior to this match, the Indian began aggressively and looked to dominate the bout.

The match was on an even keel till the third round but a flurry of punches on his head in the fourth round by Yerzhan ended his fight. The scores were level at 28-28, 28-28, 28-28 when the match was awarded to the Astana Arlans boxer via a technical knockout.

The middlewight bout between Mumbai Fighters` Croat pugilist Sanjin Pol Vrgoc and Astana`s Miras Bairkhanov followed a similar pattern the only difference being that the referee decided to stop the match in the fifth round as the Kazakhstan team showed why they were the number runner up in the first season of the WSB. Vrgoc was trailing 37-38, 36-39, 36-39 when the match was called off.

Belarusian Leanid Charnabayeu though failed to win the judge`s favour but won a lot of hearts as he completely dominated his opponent Astana opponent Abdelhafid Benchabla, the number one WSB boxer in the light heavyweight category who had a 7-1 record in the championship prior to this match.

With the crowd rooting for him, Charnabayeu became adventurous as he tried to unleash a series of hooks, jabs, and uppercuts to rattle the opponent, who was twice knocked off.

However, it was Benchabla who succeeded in scoring more points and won the match 49-46, 50-45, 50 45.

The heavyweight bout between Krishan Kumar and Chouaib Bouloudinats, which was supposed to be the main event of the night, completed the misery for the home team.

Kumar seemed to reluctant to fight and it came as no surprise that his opponent was the unanimous winner of the match.

This is the Mumbai Fighters second 0-5 defeat, and third overall, having lost by a similar margin earlier against the Dynamo Moscow and 2-3 against Milano Thunders. Their other win came via a walkover over Bangkok Elephants.

Fighters have seven points from five matches.


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