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London 2012 silver medallist John Joe Nevin and current European champion Joe Ward will make their eagerly anticipated World Series of Boxing (WSB) debuts for the British Lionhearts in Wales on Friday night.

The Lionhearts host defending WSB champions Italia Thunder in a top of the table Group B clash at the Celtic Manor in Cardiff.

Nevin is in against Serbia’s Branimir Stankovic and Ward faces Hungary’s Imre Szello in the five-bout match.

Nevin beat Stankovic on a split decision when he was boxing for Paris United in the WSB last season, while the Ward/Szello duel is a repeat of the 2011 European Elite semi-final which Ward won (18-8) en route to gold in Ankara, Turkey.

Ward looked poised to sign for the Italians (then called Milano Thunder) two years ago, but his WSB debut was put on ice because the then 17-year-old European champion was one-year shy of the minimum age requirement.

However, the Moate BC southpaw has now been given the green light.

“I’m looking forward to this one, can’t wait to get in the ring. I think we have a really strong side in the World Series and we’ll be aiming to win it out in our first season,” said the 2009 and 2010 AIBA World Junior and Youth champion.

Wales’ Andrew Selby, like Ward a current European champion, will open Friday’s match versus Daniel Limone. Selby edged out Ireland’s Michael Conlan by a single point (25-24) in the quarter-finals en route to silver at the 2011 AIBA World Elite Championships in Baku, Azerbaijan.

Limone was recruited by the Italians from the pro ranks where he won 10 of his 11 fights.

Selby’s compatriot, Fred Evans, will also be between the ropes at the Celtic Manor. Evans, a silver medal winner at London 2012, faces France’s Michel Tavares in a battle of the southpaws. Tavers has two years experience in the WSB, winning 9 of his 11 outings.

The African continent’s top Heavyweight (91+kg) Mohammed Arjaoui will bring the curtain down on the Group B fight for supremacy when he faces Italian pro fighter Matteo Modugno (unbeaten in 12 fights with 6 KOs to his name).

The Lionhearts opened their WSB campaign with a convincing 4-1 victory over Michael Conlan’s and Sean Turner’s USA Knockouts in California last Thursday.

Nevin will fight at 61kg in the WSB this season, while Ward will compete at the WSB light-heavyweight limit of 85kg.

The five-man British Lionhearts team for the visit of Italia Thunder are ranked in the top-ten in the World in their respective weight categories by AIBA.

Willie McLaughlin in signed with Italia Thunder but will not be in action on Friday evening.

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