The underdogs Mumbai Fighters rallied back to cause a huge upset as they handed over the unbeaten Baku Fires their first defeat of the season to gain an upper-hand in the first leg of the World Series Boxing quarter-final match in Mumbai on Friday night.
The Azerbaijan-based team won the first and third bouts, but the Mumbai team, making its WSB debut this season, won the second, fourth and fifth bouts to score a landmark victory.
The order of the bouts was changed and began with the middle-weight bout between Fighters' Tomasz Jablonski and the Azerbaijan-based team's Mikalai Vesialou.
The home team were on the backfoot immediately as the Polish Jablonski put up a fight but failed to land clean punches to lose in a split verdict 1-2 (48-47, 45-50, 45-40).
Jablonski was unlucky as Vesialou got away despite using a knee on him once.
The hosts staged a comeback in the second bout -- the light heavyweight category -- through Sergeii Melnyk, who won a unanimous verdict against Vatan Huseynli.
Ukrainian Melnyk, making his debut, began impressively and despite an even beginning surged ahead through some hard blows. Huseynli tried to retaliate but it was not enough. In round three, Melnyk landed a couple of punches and from then on, it was just a case of holding on to the lead. He won 49-46, 48-47, 49-46.
Next was the most awaited fight of the night as Beijing Olympics quarter-finalist Jitender Kumar squared off against WSB's No. 1 boxer Gairbek Germakhanov in the bantam-weight category.
The bout lived upto its billing as the Haryana Hurricane gave Germakhanov, on an undefeated five-match streak, a fight he least expected.
An unitended foul -- a headbutt by Germakhanov -- which saw
Jitendra bleeding just above his eyebrows signalled an end to the bout. With only the scores for the first three rounds considered, Germakhanov won the favour of two judges to extend his unbeaten run.
The light-weight bout helped the Fighters restore parity as Charly Suarez completely dominated the Baku fighter Semen Grivachev to win a unanimous verdict 3-0 (48-47, 49-46, 49-46).
Suarez impressed with the use of his right hand as he got off to the lead. The match was as good as over in the third round after the Fighters' boxer successfully landed back a series of jabs on the rival pugilist. Grivachev tried to fight back but Suarez held on to his lead comfortably.
The match went down to the wire with New Zealander Uaine Fa of the Fighters squaring off against Haji Murtuzaliyev in the heavy-weight category.
The crowd-favourite Fa did not let his team down as he took complete control of the bout using his superior physique and the left jabs to his advantage.
He won the first four rounds. Only a knockout would have helped his opponent in the fifth round which did not happen. Fa got an unanimous verdict in his favour.
Reaching the quarterfinal was not easy for the Mumbai Fighters, while their rivals stormed their way without losing any match this season.
The second leg of the quarter-final would be played in Baku on March 10, which will determine the winner.