By James Crook

8727207145 8d346ae010 zMay 10 - Astana Arlans Kazakhstan secured a narrow 3-2 lead on home turf against Ukraine Otamans on a ferocious first day of the World Series of Boxing finals.

The main talking point of the evening however, was Kazakhstan's young Romanian star Mihai Nistor, who pushed Olympic heavyweight champion Oleksandr Usyk the distance in a closely-contested bout.

The crowd at the Saryarka Velodrome got behind their man as he forced the Ukrainian to the wire despite the contest being predicted as a one-sided affair.

Usyk held his nerve to claim victory for his team, but the performance of young Nistor will supply his team with no end of encouragement going into the next day of action.

Kazakhstan took the first point on offer at bantamweight level when Meirbolat Toitov (pictured above) defeated Viktor Gogolyev, but Ukraine clawed back through Olympic and two-time world champion Vasyl Lomachenko, who defeated Arlans captain Samat Bashenov at lightweight.

8728331268 76b36f9c23 zArlans Croatian fighter Hrvoje Sep defeated Sergiy Lapin in the final bout of the evening

Kazakhstan regained their one point advantage as their Ukrainian former WSB number one middleweight Sergiy Derevyanchenko showed his superiority to defeat Otamans 19-year-old Ievgenii Barabanov.

And it was the final fight of the evening that decided which team would take the lead going into tomorrow's action, where Ukraine's Sergiy Lapin took on Astana Arlans Croatian fighter Hrvoje Sep at light-heavyweight.

Sep cruised to victory and produced a ruthless display, dominating his opponent to the point where it looked as though his corner may have had to throw in the towel, but he bravely stayed up to take the fight the distance.

Astana Arlans Kazakhstan take a one point lead going into tomorrow, where the action continues at the Saryarka Velodrome.

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