The World Series of Boxing is a league created by AIBA where boxers with few professional bouts compete in teams using the 10 point system. It was meant to be a bridge connecting amateurs to professional boxing. Entering in its fifth season and for the second Olympics this league offers Olympic qualification spots for athletes. An expanded 17 quotas (1 in -49kg, -91kg and +91kg and 2 in the other seven categories) are up for grabs to the top rank athletes at the end of the regular season.
The format of this league consisted of 16 teams that were split into 2 groups of 8 teams. Each team played the other team twice for a total of 14 matches while each weight category competed in a total of 7 events. The top team from each group goes to the semifinals while second and third qualifies to the quarterfinals. The regular season for the series began on January 15th 2015 and ended April 27th 2015.
In Group A it was the defending champions the Cuba Domadores which qualified to the semifinals finishing a perfect 14-0 in the regular season including a 63-7 individual bout record. Second place went to the Russian Boxing Team and third went to the Mexico Guerreros.
In Group B the Astana Arlans Kazakhstan also placed a similar dominate performance by finishing the regular season with a 13-1 record and will be the favourites to challenge the Cuba Domadores for the league title. Second place went to the Azerbaijan Baku Fires and third went to the Italian Thunder.
In terms of Olympic qualification it was Cuba that were the big winners by qualifying in 5 different categories (-52kg, -60kg, -64kg, -75kg and -81kg). Unsurprisingly many of the qualified athletes were former World and Olympic medalists including Yosvany Veitia Soto (bronze in 2013 Worlds), Lazaro Alvarez Estrada (gold in 2011 and 2013 Worlds, bronze in 2012 Olympics), Yasniel Toledo Lopez (silver in 2011 and 2013 Worlds, bronze in 2012 Olympics) and Julio Cesar la Cruz Peraza (gold in 2011 and 2013 Worlds).
Other nations with multiple qualified athletes included Russia in 3 categories (-56kg, -69kg and -75kg); including 2013 world silver medalist Vladimir Nikitin, Ireland in 2 categories (-49kg and -56kg); includeing 2008 and 2012 Olympic bronze medalist Patrick Barnes and 2012 Olympic bronze medalist Michael Conlan.
The other quotas went to Azerbaijan (-60kg), Croatia (+91kg), Italy (-81kg), Kazakhstan (-91kg), Mexico (-64kg), Morocco (-69kg) and Puerto Rico (-52kg).
For athletes participating in the World Series of Boxing there will be one more qualifying event, a combined final qualification event with athletes from AIBA Pro Boxing. Overall Russia leads all nations in qualification so far with 6/10 men’s events already qualified.
With AIBA trying to find some balance between professional, semi-professional and strictly amateur qualification has become a bit complicated given you have three disciplines all trying to qualify for one event. I am following the hierarchy set by AIBA, but like in all events it is up to the nation to confirm each spot and we could see cases where nations may withdraw their pro boxer in favour of their amateur boxer. But until the nation reveals their choice I will follow the hierarchy.
Quotas by Event
- Ireland (Patrick Barnes)
- Cuba (Yosbany Veitia Soto)
- Puerto Rico (Jeyvier Cintron Ocasio)
- Ireland (Michael Conlan)
- Russia (Vladimir Nikitin)
- Azerbaijan (Albert Selimov)
- Cuba (Lazaro Alvarez Estrada)
- Cuba (Yasnier Toledo Lopez)
- Mexico (Raul Curiel Garcia)
- Morocco (Mohammed Rabii)
- Russia (Radzhab Butaev)
- Cuba (Arlen Lopez Cardona)
- Russia (Petr Khamukov)
- Cuba (Julio Cesar la Cruz Peraza)
- Italy (Valentino Manfredonia)
- Kazakhstan (Vassiliy Levit)
- Croatia (Filip Hrgovic)
Quotas by Nation
- Cuba – 5
- Russia – 3
- Ireland – 2
- Azerbaijan – 1
- Croatia – 1
- Italy – 1
- Kazakhstan – 1
- Mexico – 1
- Morocco – 1
- Puerto Rico – 1
- WSB. 2015 World Series of Boxing Rankings. Access on April 26 2015.