THE British Lionhearts latest World Series of Boxing campaign kicks off tonight at the PalaVespucci in Rome. They will be facing the Italia Thunder team, who are returning to the league after a year’s absence.
The Thunder squad was presented to the media last week and includes an intriguing mix of seasoned elite international amateurs, young national team members, up-and-coming Italian national amateur champions looking to take the next step, and a group of fledgling professionals.
Two-time national champion Federico Serra was selected at 49kg. Serra’s opponent in December’s national finals, Francesco Barotti, is the back-up. At 52kg national team stalwart Manuel Cappai is the first choice but he has an able substitute in Gianmario Serra, Federico’s twin and also national champion for the last two years. Promising Francesco Maietta and Vincenzo La Femina are the picks at 56kg. 9-0 (4) pro Michael Magnesi is first choice at 60kg. Also selected was Sedik Boufrakech. Reigning national champion Paolo Di Lernia is the man at 64kg. Also competing at that weight will be a professional, Francesco Lomasto. He is the current Italian champion at light welter. London 2012 bronze medallist Vincenzo Mangiacapre and heavy-handed youngster (and Amir Khan lookalike) Mirko Natalizi will be competing at 69kg. The middleweight division (75kg) features two of the national team’s young guns, Salvatore Cavallaro and Giovanni Sarchioto. Rio Olympian Valentino Manfredonia has been selected at 81kg. He will be supported by Adriano Sperandio, a Roman professional with a 7-0 (1) record. Heavyweight (91kg) is the domain of team captain Clemente Russo, a four-time Olympian. His understudy will be Mattia Faraoni, a 4-0 (2) professional. Guido Vianello and Mirko Carbotti are the fighters at super heavyweight.