British Lionhearts into World Series Boxing semi-finals with dramatic win
British Lionhearts secured a spot in the World Series Boxing semi-finals after beating France Fighting Roosters in a night full of drama at York Hall, London.
After trailing 3-2 from the first leg in Paris two weeks ago, the Lionhearts surged into a 3-0 lead with Will Cawley, Calum French and Andras Vadasz all winning on points in their flyweight, lightweight and welterwieght bouts respectively.
However, France's big men fought back, with Bakary Diabira and Jonathan Nacto both powering to victory in their respective light heavyweight and super heavyweight clashes against Alejandro Camacho and Patrick Mailata.
That set up a tie-break between Solomon Dacres and Marin Mindoljevic and Lionhearts star Dacres eventually prevailed to book a semi-final against Astana Arlans Kazakhstan, much to his delight.
"I feel good – a little bit tired – there was a lot of back and forth in the changing rooms and I wasn't sure if I was going to box," explained Dacres.
"I'm chilled out before a fight anyway, the coaches have the experience and know when to warm me up – I relied on them but I was fairly relaxed mentally.
"The win means we can fight another day in the competition – that's a great feeling. It brings us through. The other two GB lads won to get us through, all three of us won on the GB squad – happy days!"
There was drama in the ring after Nacto's fight with Mailata, however, with the French boxer collapsing moments before his hand was set to be raised by the referee and declare him the winner.
He received medical attention and was carried away from the ring on a stretcher before being taken to hospital.
Earlier in the night, teenager Cawley, making his WSB debut, produced a tight and mature display to take a unanimous points victory over Abdelhafid Benaicha.
French, undefeated since 2012, then outclassed Khalil El Hadri with a dazzling display to ease to another points victory for the Lionhearts and nudge them in front overall.
Roared on by a lively York Hall crowd, Hungarian Vadasz, an oversea inclusion for the Lionhearts, won impressively against Mohamed-Ali Ouali in the light heavyweight clash, Vadasz benefiting from a split judges' decision.
However, the Roosters were given hope by Diabira, whose aggression and power proved too much for Spaniard Camacho, the second of three overseas fighters on the bill for the Lionhearts.
The final bout of the night pitted Frenchman Nacto against the Lionhearts' Mailata, a twice-New Zealand national champion, in the super heavyweight bout.
Nacto edged a tight contest, which was ultimately decided by one point on a split decision, but before he was officially declared the winner, he collapsed in his corner and was rushed to hospital after receiving medical attention in the ring.
The tie-break was delayed for almost an hour while organisers waited for the medics to return to ringside.
When the fighting did recommence, the bout between Dacres, another WSB debutant, and Mindoljevic did not disappoint.
The super heavyweights threw everything at each other, with Dacres' sharper movement and cleaner hits securing him victory over Croat Mindoljevic – the Roosters' only overseas fighter on the night.
Lionhearts' victory sets up a semi-final clash against Astana Arlans Kazakhstan, who overpowered Russia's Patriot Boxing Team in their quarter-final match.