The first three quota places for the boxing competition at the London 2012 Olympic Games were awarded to Kanat Abutalipov of Kazakhstan, Zhimin Wang of China and Clemente Russo of Italy at the University of Guizhou Stadium tonight after they scooped the first-ever World Series of Boxing Individual Champion titles at bantamweight, lightweight and heavyweight respectively.
Kanat Abutalipov of the Astana Arlans secured the first Olympic qualification place for Kazakhstan on a split decision (68-65, 66-67, 67-66) against France’s Nordine Oubaali of Paris United in a furious opening bout that set the pace for the evening.
Abutalipov won the battle of the two southpaws after Oubaali came out strong from the start but suffered a cut above his right eye in the second round. By the sixth round Abutalipov seemed to be taunting his opponent, but suffered a worse cut himself, leaving him bleeding badly – but victorious – at the end of the WSB’s first seven-round bout.
“I can’t believe it,” he said after the bout. “I need some time to calm down. I’m World Champion!”
To the delight of the home crowd it was China’s Zhimin Wang who emerged victorious after a heated lightweight encounter against Kazakhstan’s Yerzhan Mussafirov of the Astana Arlans. The world title victory by a close split decision (67-66, 67-66, 66-67) more than compensated for Wang losing to Mussafirov in the WSB regular season – his only loss this season.
Wang had enjoyed plenty of time to rest and train for the Individual Championships after finishing the regular season, including time to swot up on his opponent.
“I had analyzed his bouts and we had got a lot of information,” he admitted after his win.
“This was a great help and it was very effective. I now have plenty of time to prepare for the 2012 Olympic Games.”
The final bout on the night’s card was the heavyweight contest between Italy’s 2007 AIBA World Champion and 2008 Olympic silver medallist Clemente Russo of Dolce & Gabbana Milano Thunder and Azerbaijan’s Magomedrasul Medzhidov of the Baku Fires
Compared to the astonishing pace of the first two bouts, considering that the boxers were fighting over seven rounds for the first time, the heavyweights appeared slower on their opening.
Nevertheless both boxers looked composed and came out of their defence to unleash ferocious bursts of power before retreating.
Russo took the upper hand over the first four rounds to take a lead, all the time keeping Medzhidov at arm’s length.
But a left thrown by Medzhidov as the closing punch of round five made contact with Russo and signaled a come-back as the Azeri boxer made his mark on the remaining three rounds.
Medzhidov had, however, left it too late to make up the deficit, and Russo took the World Series of Boxing Heavyweight World Champion title and the Olympic qualification place for Italy with a unanimous decision (67-66, 67-66, 67-66).
“After missing out on a place in the Team Finals, we needed this victory,” he said.
“I’m tired after seven rounds. We tried this in training but in training it’s different. In the ring here your attention counts, too, and so do the referee and the judges!”
“This is a very important victory for the team. It will allow us to start preparing for the next season from September with renewed enthusiasm.”
In addition to winning the first WSB title belts and the Olympic qualification places, each Individual Champion takes home a prize cheque of USD 20,000.
The World Series of Boxing Individual Championships continue on Saturday, May 28th with the middleweight and light heavyweight contests.