January 9 - The British Lionhearts face a tough task to secure victory in their next World Series of Boxing (WSB) bout this week as they travel to Kiev to face a Ukraine Otamans outfit headed by the reigning heavyweight Olympic and world champion Oleksandr Usyk.
The 25-year-old Ukrainian proved himself one of the biggest stars in the sport as he stormed to gold at London 2012 less than a year after taking victory at the 2011 Wold Championships in Baku.
His superb performances at the ExCeL, as well as the "Hopak" dance celebration that followed his wins, saw Usyk proved one of the most popular fighters at the Olympics and he was named the 2012 International Boxing Association (AIBA) Best Elite Men's Boxer of the Year.
Usyk will go in as overwhelming favourite this Friday (January 11) at the Acco International Exhibition Centre in Kiev against the Lionhearts' Tongan heavyweight Uaine Fa and the Ukrainian admitted he is excited in what will be his first ever WSB bout.
"I have taken my training to a new level in preparation for this fight," he said.
"The WSB will be different and new so have had to really study my opponent."
The giant Fa also expressed his excitement ahead of the contest.
"I know Usyk well as he is the Olympic champion at 91kgs, so he will be a very tough opponent," said Fa.
"But I hope that my extra size will give me the edge."
Usyk and Fa will close the show in an exciting contest that will begin with the Lionhearts' Welsh bantamweight star Sean McGoldrick, the reigning Commonwealth Games champion, taking on Ukrainian Ivan Ilnytskyy, who has yet to win in his three WSB outings.
The lightweight showdown will see Ukraine's Dmytro Rudenko pitted against the Lionhearts' Samuel Maxwell while Ukrainian southpaw Olexandr Stretskyy will take on the talented Scot Aston Brown in the middleweight contest.
Meanwhile the light heavyweight contest will pit Ukraine's fearsome Oleksandr Gvozdyk against the Lionhearts' experienced Swede Babacar Kamara.
The fight represents a tough ask for Kamara as Gvozdyk comes into the bout having won every one of his WSB bouts last season and he once again displayed his class at London 2012 by winning a bronze medal.
"The team is in great shape and we are feeling very confident for the rest of the season," he said.
"I cannot wait to see us performing against the British Lionhearts.
"The fans will be treated to a real show; that is for sure."
The Ukrainian outfit desperately need the win as they are currently one place off the foot of the table in fifth in Group B.
But the Lionhearts, who are making their debut this season, have so far won three of their four matches to leave them in second their group and they will be able to qualify for the knockout stages of the competition even if they lose in Kiev.
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