Monday evening’s semifinal session of the AIBA World Championships in Doha saw another ten bouts of exhilarating boxing as the best of the flyweight, lightweight, welterweight, light heavyweight and super heavyweight categories – including three Cubans – punched their way through to Thursday night’s finals.
China’s Hu Jianguan had surprised the boxing world when he defeated Uzbekistan’s Shakhobiddin Zoirov and Kazakhstan’s Olzhas Sattibayev to setup the semi-final with WSB Individual Champion Yosbany Veitia Soto.
The Cuban proved too hot for the 22-year-old flyweight to handle, however, and he will now meet Azerbaijan’s 2015 European Games winner Elvin Mamishzada. The Azeri needed only 110 seconds to knock down Algeria’s Mohamed Flissi thanks to a flourish of left hooks.
Another Cuban, Lazaro Alvarez, kept his hopes of a third consecutive world title alive after defeating the much-improved Elnur Abduraimov. He will have to overcome Albert Selimov in the final after the Azerbaijan giant of WSB narrowly edged past Brazil’s Robson Conceicao.
With the crowd finding its voice, Ireland’s Joe Ward dug deep to take a deserved win over Uzbekistan’s Elshod Rasulov, and the volume was turned up to eleven for the arrival of Cuba’s Julio La Cruz. It was another virtuoso performance from the team captain against Russia’s Pavel Silyagin who, despite landing some strong blows in a riveting final round, couldn’t get to grips with La Cruz who will face Ward in Thursday’s final.
“My tactics are based on a lot of footwork and quick movements and I try to exploit my opponent’s faults in the bout. My coach told me what I had to do in the semi-final and what not, he knew my Russian opponent. I am a counter-attacking boxer which is perfect for me and I hope the Cuban fans were satisfied with me today,” said La Cruz
The super heavyweights wrapped up the semi-finals, with Kazakhstan’s world number one Ivan Dychko in imperious form against Uzbekistan’s Bakhodir Jalolov. He will face Tony Yoka after the Frenchman beat Britain’s European Games gold medalist Joe Joyce 3:0.