The France Fighting Roosters avenged their two earlier defeats from the Group stages with a first leg 3-2 victory against the British Lionhearts in the World Series Boxing quarter-finals in Paris.
The cross-Channel rivals competed for the third time this season but it was the hosts who came out on top for the first time after five exciting bouts.
The light flyweight division got the nights action underway when Samuel Carmona outworked Galal Yafai to give the home side an early lead. These two met last year when Yafai recorded a victory against the Spaniard in the semi-final of the European Boxing Olympic Qualification Tournament which secured his place in the Summer Olympics in Rio.
The 24 year old from the West Midlands is the younger brother of WBA super-flyweight champion Khalid ‘Kal’ Yafai and super-bantamweight Gamal ‘The Beast’ Yafai who are both in action this Weekend at the Barclaycard Arena in Birmingham. Unfortunately the talented youngster was unable to get the win he needed not only for the Lionhearts but for a family hat-trick.
In the second bout of the evening France’s Samuel Kistohurry also avenged his loss from last month against Liverpudlian Peter McGrail in the bantamweight division. It was dead even going into the fifth with two rounds a piece but the 22 year old Frenchman was the aggressor throughout the final round, applying non stop pressure onto the tiring McGrail to nick the win and put the Roosters two up.
The Fighting Roosters were starting to gather momentum and a third victory in a row would establish a strong foothold on not only the first leg but the tie as a whole. It was down to light welterweight Conor Loftus to buck the trend and make sure Hassan Amzile didn’t avenge his defeat from last month. Thankfully for the Lionhearts it was the Brit that edged yet another close encounter for an important win for the vistors.
The middleweights were up next and draft pick Luka Plantic of Croatia was looking like he would level the scores for the Lionhearts against Rachid Achoui. The Croat marched into a three round lead but then Achoui turned the fight on its head winning the fourth and forcing the referee to stop the fight in the final round.
Once again the Lionhearts found themselves two down and in danger of gifting the Roosters an unassailable lead. The pressure was on heavyweight import David Nyika from New Zealand to produce the goods against Kevin Kuadjovi. In a determined and dominating display from Nyika his opponent was unable to cope with his speed and power. After two standing counts the French corner had seen enough and threw in the towel.
With the score now at 3-2 in favour of the French the tie is delicately poised and is all to play for going into the second leg at London’s York Hall in 20 May.
In the other quarter-final, visitors Astama Arlans Kazakhstan beat the Patriot Boxing Team 3-2 in their first leg in Kemerovo, Russia. The Kazakhstan’s will be confident of progressing into the semi-finals after this away victory.