The World Series of Boxing Season VI draw took place in Vargas, Venezuela ©WSB

Defending champions Astana Arlans Kazakhstan have been drawn against newcomers Uzbekistan Team as well as Azerbaijan Baku Fires and Puerto Rico Hurricanes in the World Series of Boxing (WSB) Season VI group stage.

Astana Arlans are the top seeds in Group D, while last season’s runners-up Cuba Domadores have been pitted against Algeria Desert Hawks, Ukraine Otamans and China Dragons in Group A.

As one of the two beaten semi-finalists in Season V, Mexico Guerreros head Group B, which also features the USA Knockouts, Morocco Atlas Lions and British Lionhearts.

Russian Boxing Team, who also suffered elimination at the penultimate stage of last season’s competition, face Rafako Hussars Poland, Argentina Condors and Caciques de Venezuela in Group C.

"Season VI will be an extraordinary competition as we will be able to witness 16 truly amazing and legendary teams go head-to-head for the honour to compete in WSB Finals," said International Boxing Association (AIBA) President CK Wu, who opened the draw in Vargas, Venezuela. 

"I am confident that all teams will offer a magnificent spectacle and that this will be one of the best boxing seasons our fans have ever seen."

A total of 16 teams will battle it out for the coveted World Series of Boxing trophy
A total of 16 teams will battle it out for the coveted World Series of Boxing trophy ©AIBA

The top two teams from each four-strong group will contest play-offs to determine the semi-final line-up with the winners left to fight it out for the coveted WSB trophy.

This is different to last season when the 16 competing teams were split into two groups of eight with the two group winners advancing to the semi-finals and the second and third-placed teams meeting in the quarter-finals for the right to join them in the last four.

"All the teams are very strong this year," said Alberto Puig de la Barca, general manager of Cuba Domadores.

"All the franchises will do a good job and it will not be easy to beat any of them.

"We have been matched against three very good teams and we will have to plan well.

"The format of Season VI is really good with four groups and less matches, which will allow the boxers to be in a perfect shape throughout the whole season."

Astana Arlans claimed their second WSB title in June with a 6-4 aggregate win over Cuba.

Super heavyweight Ivan Dychko secured the decisive victory at the National Tennis Centre in Astana, beating Cuba’s Yohandi Toirac in the final bout of the tie.

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