By Tom Degun

WSB_Nov_18November 19 - The World Series of Boxing (WSB), a new global boxing competition run by the International Boxing Association (AIBA), is set to make its long-awaited official debut this weekend with six matches being held across three different continents.

The Dolce & Gabbana Milano Thunder team has the honour of hosting the first-ever match tomorrow evening when they take on a strong Paris United at the famous Palasharp venue on the outskirts of Milan.

Just hours later, The Mexico City Guerreros welcome Memphis Force in the first match of the Americas conference, while on Saturday, Moscow's Kremlin Bears host the Istanbulls at the Barvikha Luxury Village.

The first two matches in the Asia conference will also take place on Saturday, with the powerful Astana Arlans taking on the Incheon Red Wings at home in Kazakstan and the Beijing Dragons travelling to Azerbaijan to face the Baku Fires.

The event follows months of preparation which have included Kazakhstan's KazStroyService (KSS) signing an agreement to become the official presenting sponsor of the WSB and a hugely successful exhibition match in Almaty, Kazakhstan, last month which saw home side the Astana Arlans destroy the Istanbulls 5-0.

Milan look to have selected the strongest team on paper with heavyweight Clemente Russo, the 2007 World Amateur Boxing Champion, and bantamweight Vincenzo Picardi, the Beijing 2008 Olympic bronze medallist, featuring in a formidable looking line-up.

The Moscow squad appears to feature the other big names in the first weekend of WSB action with heavyweight Arbi Madaev, a silver medallist at the 2009 European Youth Championships, and light heavyweight Zhavlonbek Usmanov, bronze medallist at the 2006 World Junior Championships, named to fight.

Some of the other teams are putting a firm emphasis on young talent, particularly Beijing whose oldest squad member is just 23.

Beijing have already got off to a bad start as,  due to visa issues, they been unable to field an international boxer and will therefore forfeit one bout under WSB rule 2.1.5, which requires at least one international boxer to compete for a team at each match.

However, they will be hoping their young talent can change their fortunes in the ring.

Individual winners in the WSB earn automatic qualification for the London 2012 Olympic Games.

Kenny_EganIrish light-heavyweight Kenny Egan (pictured), the 28-year-old Beijing 2008 silver medallist who will be competing for Miami Gallo, said: "Whenever I entered the ring for Ireland, there was always pressure on me because everyone wants to see me get beat.

"I've been national champion the last 10 years in all of Ireland.

"I just see this as a new challenge for me.

"If I come to the World Series and train with different countries and if I improve by one per cent, well then that's good enough for me.

"I've been around Europe and all around the world with amateur boxing for the last 10 years.

"I know the ins and the outs of the game, but I just need something else in my arsenal and that means coming to Miami and training with a good team and learning something new and qualifying for the Olympics and winning that second medal.

"There are not many Olympians out there and not many Olympic medallists either - the Olympics are like the Holy Grail in any sport.

"The tournament means so much to me because my goal is to be in London 2012 and try and do it again."

Los Angeles Matador Rau'shee Warren said: "It was confusing at first to think that you could compete both as an amateur and as a professional, but once I found out more I knew it was a good idea for me because I still wanted to fight for the gold, because that's been my main attraction since I was young.

"When the WSB came about, it was like a dream come true.

"I knew it was something I wanted to do yet still go to the Olympics and achieve my goal, which I've been working on for eight years now."

In an exclusive blog for insidethegames, AIBA and WSB President C K Wu added: "The first matches are now only hours away and the excitement is palpable as the teams put the finishing touches to their preparations and their boxers put in their final hours of training.

"For the sport of boxing, a new era is about to dawn."

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