APB local stars shine in China as Light Flyweight top seeds suffer
Lingnan Pearl in Foshan, China played host to the Week One Pre-ranking AIBA Pro Boxing event for the Light Flyweights (46-49kg), with some incredible performances mixed in with big upsets. The top seeded boxer in the category, Russia’s 31-year-old southpaw David Ayrapetyan won the bronze medal at the London 2012 Olympic Games, has two World Championships medals, and a European gold.
Highly decorated, the Russian faced Ecuador’s Carlos Quipo in week one of the competition, with the Ecuadorian having won two tough Cuban events in succession earlier this year.
Ayrapetyan started the fight better, using his ramrod job effectively, and he applied the pressure on his South American opponent. However, from round three onwards, Quipo dropped just one round on a single scorecard, as his slick movement frustrated his Russian opponent massively.
Although Ayrapetyan maintained pressure throughout the entire fight, it was the combination of punching and agility of the Ecuadorian which impressed the judges, and he eventually won the contest, and the scalp of the number one seed with 58:56 twice, and 59:55.
Argentina’s Leandro Jose Blanc came into his APB debut against Filipino Mark Anthony Barriga, having lost to his Asian opponent last season in the World Series of Boxing.
Unhappily for the South American, it was déjà-vu, as he was comprehensively outboxed by Barriga, who is emerging as one of the best light flyweights in the world.
Barriga’s speed was the key difference between the two fighters, and though Blanc’s aggressive nature shone through, the quickness of the jab from Barriga was frightening, and his movement and footwork consistently bamboozled Blanc.
Blanc took advantage of Barriga’s lack of punches in round five, winning the round on all of the cards, but that was the only round he won in the fight, as Barriga took the victory 59:55 three times over.
Wu Zhonglin is one of China’s emerging stars, and the ovation was deafening in Foshan’s Lingnan Pearl as he made his way to the ring for his fight against Brazil’s Patrick Lourenco, who is at number two in the AIBA light flyweight rankings.
The Chinese National Champion won the silver medal in the World Combat Games in 2013 in Russia, and needed every inch of his experience in the first round when he was knocked down hard by Lourenco. Zhonglin showed tremendous heart in getting up from the shot, and stormed back well in the second round, as he attempted to make the Brazilian tire himself out.
Cheered on by the partisan crowd, the Chinese star worked his way into the fight, his guard gradually dropping as the rounds progressed, and though Lourenco’s punches were harder, the eye-catching shots were being delivered by Zhonglin.
Going into the last round, both men were tired, and yet still gave it their all. A very close fight went to the scorecards, where China’s new hero won via split decision the last round being all important. Two judges scored it 58:56 for Zhonglin, while one judge gave the same score for Lourenco.
Number two seed Birzhan Zhakypov is the current AIBA World Champion, and the two-time Olympian faced another home favourite in the last fight of the night, as 20-year-old Bin LV came to the ring to the sound of Queen’s We Are The Champions.
Seen as possibly the future star of the sport in his homeland, Bin LV won the gold medal at the 2012 AIBA Youth World Boxing Championships, and he achieved perhaps his finest result in boxing against Zhakypov, as he shocked the World champion.
The Chinese star excelled from the very beginning of the fight, refusing to be overawed by the occasion, despite the magnitude of what he was facing.
Zhakypov was unable to get into his usual blissful rhythm, as he was harried and harassed by Bin throughout the course of the entire fight, as both men traded shots at an intense level, with the quality work coming more from the Chinese corner.
The judges agreed with that assessment, with all three scoring it 58:56 for the home favourite, and on a night of supreme boxing action, both of the top seeds were defeated, while homeland stars were born.
Turkish delight in Istanbul as the home favorite and top middleweights all win
Fenerbahçe Ülker Sports Arena in Istanbul, Turkey was the location for the Week One Pre-ranking AIBA Pro Boxing (APB) event for the Middleweights (75kg) and one of the strongest APB categories certainly lived up to the hype.
Starting off the night was a bout between Egypt’s former Olympian Hosam Abdin, and French southpaw Michel Tavares, who came into the contest with 21 appearances in the World Series of Boxing.
Many boxing insiders had tipped Tavares for glory in this bout, due to his vast experience of five-round boxing, but it was the Egyptian who excelled over this six round format, mystifying his opponent from beginning to end.
Abdin started impressively, breaking down Tavares with body punches, and though each round was close, it was the African athlete whose work remained cleaner, and more effective.
As the fight progressed, both fighters sought to find a knock-out shot, but despite some big right hands from the French fighter, the fight went to the scorecards, where one judge gave every round to Abdin 60:54, while two judges gave a solitary round for Tavares.
In the second fight of the night, number two seed Middleweight and 2012 Ukrainian National Champion Dmytro Mytrofanov fought Romania’s Bogdan Juratoni, who won a bronze medal at the 2011 AIBA World Championships aged just 21, and followed it up with a silver medal at the 2013 European Championships.
It was almost impossible to split the two fighters in the build-up, and the same could be said in the ring, as they both gave it their all for the entire duration of the bout.
Neither man gave up the centre of the ring, as they fought nose to nose for much of the match. Juratoni was hit by a good shot in the third round and his efforts were impacted by that as the fight progressed.
Despite both men working hard, Mytrofanov improved more as the rounds carried on, and it was his hand that was eventually raised, with two judges giving the match to him 58:56, while the Vietnamese judge awarded the fight to Juratoni by the same score.
It was a split decision win for the Ukrainian, but it will give him a lot of confidence in the coming weeks.
Top seeded Russian Artem Chebotarev won the gold medal at the European Boxing Championships in 2010, and the silver medal at the 2013 AIBA World Boxing Championships, and he opened his APB account against Ecuador’s Marlo Delgado, who competed at the London 2012 Olympic Games.
The fight started tightly, with a big right hand from Delgado the highlight of the first round. As the rounds progressed, Chebotarev’s movement proved to be a difference maker, and his body punching stopped the Ecuadorian in his tracks at times.
In the fourth round, Delgado had two warnings from the referee due to his inability to keep his gum shield in, and as the noise reached an incredible degree of loudness in the last round, Delgado’s gum shield came out again, which gave the referee no choice but to disqualify him with ten seconds left of the fight.
At the time of the disqualification, Chebotarev was ahead on all three scorecards, and the top seeded boxer will be happy to have successfully navigated through his first APB bout, even though the method of victory was less than desirable.
Turkey’s home favourite Adem Kilicci was a bronze medallist in the 2007 AIBA World Championships, won a silver medal in the 2011 European Boxing Championships on home soil in Ankara, and the home hero was treated with an amazing ovation as he made his way to the ring.
Luckily for those in attendance, his fight against Kenya’s Nickson Otieno Abaka was a successful one.
Kilicci absolutely dominated the contest from beginning to end, bewitching his tough and rugged opponent with a vast array of shots, and though the game Abaka gave it his all, he was comprehensively outclassed by the Turk who could be a player at this weight.
Brilliant APB bantamweights are audacious in Argentina
The picturesque city of San Carlos de Bariloche, Argentina played host to the pre-ranking fights involving the Bantamweight (56kg) class of AIBA Pro Boxing (APB).
France’s Khedafi Djelkhir is well deserving of his number one APB seeding, having come into his debut with the silver medal at the 2008 Olympic Games, and an impeccable 16-0 professional record, which includes 12 stoppage victories.
In his first APB outing, he took on Venezuela’s 23-year-old Yonni Blanco, who won a bronze medal at the 2013 South American Games.
Blanco was the crowd favourite due to his South American heritage, but it was the Frenchman who was the true star of the fight, dazzling the watching onlookers from beginning to end.
Djelkhir’s professional background shone through in the fight, as he maintained a vigorous tempo that was simply too much for the courageous Blanco who never wilted in effort despite the disparity in quality.
All three judges gave the fight to Djelkhir, who has laid a marker down on the rest of the competition.
After the fight, he spoke to the media regarding his win.
“I would say that I managed to win this fight quite easily, and it is due to the great work of my coaches and my team. APB is a great competition as it represents evolution for boxers. Finally, I am really happy that now pro boxers can also be eligible for Olympic Games, as is the case with other Olympic disciplines, and it a great chance for me.”
Russia’s Sergey Vodopiyanov won the gold medal at the 2007 AIBA World Championships aged just 20, and earned a silver medal at the 2009 edition of the tournament.
A two-time Olympian, Vodopiyanov was the favourite in his contest against China’s Jiawei Zhang, a two-time Asian Games silver medalist, from 2010 and most recently in Incheon 2014.
In what was arguably the most entertaining bout of the evening, Zhang exhibited round after round of aggressive boxing, and surprised his decorated opponent from the get go.
Zhang’s hunger for victory was immense, and though Vodopiyanov rallied towards the end of the fight, it was the Chinese star who proved victorious, earning warm applause from the knowledgeable Bariloche crowd.
In one of the biggest surprises of APB so far, Number two seeded Bantamweight Javid Chalabiyev, the reigning AIBA World Champion, lost his first match in the competition to Brazil’s two-time Olympian Robenilson Vieira de Jesus, a late replacement going into the contest.
Chalabiyev entered the contest as a big favourite, but the elusive style of the Brazilian proved to be a real surprise, and de Jesus managed to use his trickiness to counter the aggressiveness of the Azeri athlete.
As the fight wore on, Chalabiyev worked ever harder to claw back some points, but the more he tried the less he could work out, as the Brazilian counter-attacked magnificently all the way to a surprise victory.
The last fight of the evening saw home favourite Alberto Melian treated to a rapturous welcome when he stepped into the ring, and the London 2012 Olympian squared off against Kenya’s Benson Gicharu Njangiru, who was coming off a bronze medal in the recent Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.
Although he was facing an Argentine in Argentina, Njangiru was treated with respect from the crowd, but for the first few rounds of the fight he was outboxed by the local favourite, whose rapid combinations often seemed like a blur such was the speed of them.
Everything could have changed in round five however, as the Kenyan hit Melian with a shot which would have felled many boxers, but the Argentine showed tremendous resilience in staying on his feet, and buoyed by the adoring crowd, he maintained his composure and picked up the win on each judge’s scorecard to round off a flawless night of boxing for himself, APB, and Argentina.
Melian spoke to the media after his win.
“I am really happy about my victory and I would like to thank everybody who came to support me tonight. APB is a real pro competition, and all the opponents are really strong, however I realize that my previous experience, including WSB helped me a lot in this victory.”
This match wrapped up week one of APB’s pre-ranking stage.
The Italian judge gave three 10:8 rounds to Kilicci, and eventually awarded him a huge 60:51 margin of victory, while the other two judges scored the fight 60:54 to the home fighter.