May 2 - Dolce & Gabbana Milano Thunder produced a superb display here in the World Series of Boxing (WSB) team final tonight as they comfortably defeated Dynamo Moscow 4-1 to pick up the prestigious trophy in the same arena that will host the London 2012 Olympic boxing competition this summer.
Both the Italian and Russian franchises looked fired up in front of a rapturous crowd and the start of the action did not disappoint as the first of the five bouts at bantamweight (54kg) saw Moscow's Vladimir Nikitin, the highly talented 22-year-old Russian, and Milano's experienced 28-year-old Italian Vincenzo Picardi, who won bronze at the Beijing 2008 Olympics, go toe to toe in a thrilling contest.
Despite suffering a huge cut to his forehead, Nikitin (pictured below, left) fought bravely as he continually pushed his rival onto the back foot but it was Picardi (pictured below, right) who landed the cleaner shots to take a split decision victory and give his team a 1-0 lead.
That lead quickly doubled as Milano's heavy-fisted Branimir Stankovic easily outclassed Moscow's Adlan Abdurashidov at lightweight (61kg) to put his team within one win of the title.
The Italian franchise did not have to wait long for that moment as the middleweight (73kg) match up saw Milano's stylish Sergiy Derevyanchenko, the reigning 2011 WSB world champion, defeat Moscow's Maxim Gazizov to give his team an unassailable 3-0 lead as the army of traveling Italian fans went wild.
Moscow managed to restore some pride in the light heavyweight (85kg) bout as highly rated Oleksandr Gvozdyk defeated Milano's Imre Szello, the 2011 European Boxing Championship bronze medallist to give Milano's their first point of the evening and make the overall score 3-1.
But their small victory proved fleeting as the heavyweight (91+kg) bout between Milano's Clemente Russo (pictured above, left), the reigning Olympic silver medallist and WSB world champion hold off the valiant challenge of Moscow's Vitaly Kudukhov (pictured above, right), the two-times Russian National Championship medallist.
The blue-ribbon flight of the evening actually proved rather a scrappy affair as Kudukhov tried to spoil his faster opponent but it was the 28-year-old Italian who landed to cleaner shots to take victory and retain his unbeaten WSB record.
The result gave Dolce & Gabbana Milano Thunder an overall 4-1 win and it means that they join Paris United on the WSB role of honour after the French franchise won the inaugural WSB team finals last year when the event was staged in Guiyang, China.
The delighted Italian franchise were awarded the team trophy in the ring by WSB chairman President C K Wu (pictured below, left), the International Boxing Association (AIBA) chairman.
"It was a long and hard road to get here but we are delight that we have finally got our hands on this wonderful trophy," said Dolce & Gabbana Milano Thunder general manager Paolo Taveggia.
"All our boxers have worked so hard for this moment and I am very proud of every single one of them.
"They have truly earned this special moment."
But Dolce & Gabbana Milano Thunder's victory does not signal the end of WSB season two just yet as the individual championships are scheduled to take place at the ExCeL on June 9 less than two months before the start of the Olympic boxing competition.
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