Willie McLaughlin’s Milano Thunder have one foot in the World Series of Boxing 9WSB) Team Championship final following a shut out 5-0 semi-final win over the Baku Fires of Azerbaijan yesterday.
McLaughlin, Vincenzo Picardi, Branimir Stankovic, Imre Szello and Clemente Russo claimed wins at the Mediolanum Forum in Milan.
Thunder travel to Baku next Friday for the return leg needing just one win from the five-bout clash to advance to the final where they will meet either Dynamo Moscow or the Astana Arlans of Kazakhstan.
McLaughlin, who boxes out of the Illies GG, had his hands full for the first two rounds of Saturday’s middleweight five-rounder with Osman Aliyev, the Azerbaijani counter-puncher claiming the opening two frames.
But the Donegal ace, who rocked his opponent in the final frame, took the next three rounds to secure an unanimous (48-47,48-47,48-47) decision.
Saturday’s win was undefeated McLaughlin’s 5th in-a-row in the WSB this season.
The Ulster man won’t feature in next Friday’s return leg because of the mandatory 13-day rest rule in the WSB.
But given his consistency for the Italian side this season he looks certain to feature – if Milan advance – in the 2012 WSB Team Championship final which will be held at the ExCel in London, the venue for boxing at the 2012 Olympics, on May 1st/2nd.