Cuba lead Russia after first semi-final
Two of the greatest boxing nations in the world created Magic in Moscow, with five engrossing fights completing the first leg of the World Series of Boxing (WSB) Season IV semi-finals.
Russian Boxing Team were at home at the Moscow Arena, against the highly rated Cuban Domadores, and two teams provided a bounty of beautiful fights.
The night opened at Light Flyweight (46-49kg) with Cuban Yosbany Veitia, ranked Number one in the WSB competed against against the Russian Belik Galanov.
Veitia boxed flamboyantly, utilising a fast and speedy style against his Russian opponent. Galanov tried hard, but the Cuban was simply too slick.
The commentators were slightly critical of The Cuban taking liberties with his opponent, but his method was eventually sound, as he kept his undefeated record in the competition, with seven straight wins this season.
Contest number two was at Bantamweight (56kg), as Vladimir Nikitin, ranked number two in his division took on the Cuban Norlan Yera, who will be making his WSB debut against Nikitin.
Despite Nikitin having won all three of his previous WSB contests, he was made to work hard by the debutant. Both boxers experienced nasty cuts above their left eye, but the wounds did not make the bout any less engrossing.
Nikitin ultimately prevailed, making it 1-1 on the night, but Yera was highly impressive on debut.
The third fight was also highly entertaining, as the number one ranked Light-Welterweight Yasnier Toledo put his 4-1 record on the line against the 1-1 Russian Maxim Dadashev, the 2008 AIBA Youth World Championship silver medalist.
Toledo is one of the most graceful boxers to watch in WSB, his technique is unrivaled, and he excelled in the contest against the very tough and game Dadashev, who to his credit never gave up on the contest. Toledo’s victory put Cuba 2-1 up after three fights.
That all changed in the fourth contest, which saw Artem Chebotarev up against the relatively unknown Cuban Arlen Lopez.
Chebotarev’s right hand was a constant weapon, hitting it over the top seemingly at will. Lopez showed his inexperience at times, but was competitive in the contest.
The Russian controlled the bout from the outset, and looked more powerful at all times than his Cuban rival who looked more and more ragged as the fight progressed.
Perhaps the best round of the entire night was the fifth and last one in this fight. Lopez exploded in the first minute, with a devastating one-two combination, shaking his Russian opponent.
The last seconds of the fight saw both boxers exchanging furious uppercuts. Despite the late rally by Lopez, the win went to Chebotarev, evening up the scores 2-2, and ensuring that the last fight would decide the night.
What a fight it was, as the number one ranked Heavyweight (91kg) Erislandy Savon put his 5-0 WSB season record against his fellow undefeated opponent, the home favourite Eugeniy Tischenko.
Ice cool Savon won the contest, and belied the pressure of the situation with crisp punches delivered with panache. Tischenko fought gamely, but couldn’t sustain any real pressure, and his Cuban opponent won by unanimous decision.
His win meant that Cuba won the first leg of the semi-finals by a 3-2 margin, and take that advantage back home on May 2. The winner of this semi-final will qualify for the WSB Finals (May 30-31) and face the winner of the other semi-final contested by defending Champions, the Astana Arlans Kazakhstan and the Azerbaijan Baku Fires.
Kazakhstan 3-2 Azerbaijan after first semi-final
Many people were excited about the prospect of two of the best teams in World Series of Boxing (WSB) competing in the semi-finals, and the Astana Arlans Kazakhstan, and the Azerbaijan Baku Fires lived up to the hype, with five engrossing fights delighting the watching audience at Almaty Sport Palace, and those watching around the world.
Ultimately it proved to be a winning night for Astana Arlans Kazakhstan, the defending WSB Champions who won three of the bouts, with Azerbaijan Baku Fires winning two.
The Light-Flyweights (46-49kgs), Bantamweights(56kg), Light Welterweights (64kg), Middleweights (75kg) and Heavyweights (91kg) contested this match.
Bout of the match
The 2012 WSB Individual Champion Gairbek Germakhanov was involved in an excellent fight in his Bantamweight contest against Kazakhstan’s home favourite Madi Shulakov.
Both boxers fought with guts and heart, with the contest mainly taking place in the middle of the ring, with plenty of hard punches in every round.
This contest was expected to be good considering what was at stake, but it turned out to be even better than many initially thought. After Astana Arlans Kazakhstan won the first fight, Germakhanov gave it his all to even things up, and he did ultimately winning via split decision.
Such was the ferocity of the battle however, Shulakov will take a lot from it. The Kazakh looked full of power, and showed a great chin as right hand after right hand from his opponent consistently landed. The fact that one judge thought he won showed just how close the contest was, with the fans in the arena making a lot of noise.
Boxer of the match
Sergiy Derevyanchenko is regarded as one of the greatest boxers in the history of WSB, and the Ukrainian Middleweight represents Astana Arlans Kazakhstan in the competition.
He took his 22-1 overall WSB record into the ring against the hard-hitting Azerbaijan favourite Soltan Migitinov, who had won three WSB matches via TKO in his career.
Derevyanchenko was impressive from the outset, utilising his efficient style with aplomb. The Ukrainian never seems to waste punches, and his tight defence meant that the powerful Migitinov struggled to land clean with any impactful hits.
Rounds one and two clearly went to Derevyanchenko, and after a barrage late in the third round, Migitinov staggered back to his corner on shaky legs. The Azerbaijan fighter was pulled out of the fight by his corner, which saw a TKO victory for Derevyanchenko, the only stoppage win of the evening.
The turning point
With the first two fights of the night being won by either team, the third bout was all important in maintaining momentum. It was fought at Light Welterweight, as Azerbaijan’s number three ranked fighter Gaybatulla Gadzhialiyev took on the number four ranked Askhat Ualikhanov.
Although not the most exciting contest of the first leg, it was a tactical, cagey affair, and as is so often the case in matches of that style, the judges were torn on which fighter was winning.
While the first and second judges had pretty much made up their minds heading into the final round, the third judge had the contest even at the end of round four. The effort of Gadzhialiyev impressed that particular judge in the fifth, which resulted in a win for the Baku Fires boxer via a very close split decision.
One judge scored the contest 50-45 to Ualikhanov, while another scored it 49-46 to Gadzhialiyev. The third judge’s scoreline is 48-47 meant that Azerbaijan Baku Fires only lost the first leg 3-2, rather than 4-1, which could prove decisive in the second leg.
Quote of the match
“He did work hard, but he didn’t have anything to show for it, because he didn’t have enough scoring shots” – WSB commentator Steve Holdsworth on Azerbaijan’s Heavyweight Abdulkadir Abdullayev who tried hard against the Kazakh Vasilii Levit, but was dominated in the fight.
Temirtas Zhussupov started the night off in style for Kazakhstan against the Azeri boxer Khamza Nametov at Light-Flyweight. Zhussupov had only won once in Season IV while Nametov had three successes against some good names this season
Despite the disparity in wins, it was Zhussupov who proved victorious in an entertaining and highly fast paced contest. The home favourite suffered a bad cut in round three, but didn’t let his crimson mask, nor the power of Nametov affect his performance.
In the last bout of the evening was a Heavyweight clash between the number two ranked Vasilii Levit against the seventh ranked Azerbaijan powerhouse Abdulkadir Abdullayev. These two boxers had previously met in week one, with Levit winning by a close contest on points.
The rematch resulted in a much more decisive win for Levit, who controlled every single round of the fight, and managed to negate Abdullayev’s power by throwing many more punches than his opponent.
It was Levit who showed the true force in the contest, and a big punch from him caused the referee to issue a standing count in the fourth round to Abdullayev. Levit always comes strong at the end of rounds, and the Heavyweight is now 6-0 this season in WSB.
Russia’s Bibert Tumenov amazing in Sofia
The lone qualification event for the Nanjing 2014 Youth Olympics, the AIBA Youth World Boxing Championships finished with the finals of the thirteen weight classes in Sofia, where Russia’s Bibert Tumenov and US Jajaira Gonzalez provided the best performances on the eleventh competition day.
Bout of the finals
Ukraine’s two-time EUBC European Junior Continental Champion Viktor Petrov travelled for the gold in Sofia, and his chances were greatly raised following Kazakhstan’s ASBC Asian Youth Continental Champion Ayan Kalibekov’s early loss in the championships.
The 18-year-old Ukrainian boxer who moved up to the Light Welterweight class (64 kg) faced Russia’s new sensation Bibert Tumenov in the final.
They met in the first preliminary round of the Pavlyukov Youth Memorial Tournament in Anapa two months ago, where the younger Russian boxer defeated him in a narrow bout on home soil.
Tumenov surprised the Ukrainian boxer with extremely high number of punches, and his rhythm was untenable for Petrov, and therefore the result was the same as in their Pavlyukov Youth Memorial Tournament meeting.
Teams of the finals
Russia’s second finalist after Tumenov’s contest was Pavlyukov Youth Memorial Tournament winner Dmitrii Nesterov, who eliminated the main favourites of the Middleweight class (75 kg) including Australia’s AIBA Junior World Champion Satali Tevi Fuimaono on the road to the final.
The 18-year-old Russian Youth National Champion had a quiet first round in his gold medal bout against Croatia’s Luka Plantic.
Nesterov was able to change in his speed and rhythm as the fight progressed, therefore his hand was raised after the final gongm which was the second gold medal for the Russian delegation.
Besides the Russians, the US team also won all of their finals on the eleventh competition day in Sofia.
Their AIBA Junior World Champion Shakur Stevenson started the winning path in the Men’s Flyweight class (52 kg), while Darmani Rock (+91 kg), and their female star Jajaira Gonzalez (60 kg) also reached the top of the podium in the event, which became the best ever US performance in the history of the championships.
AIBA Road to Sofia boxers of the finals
Cuba’s native talent Javier Ibanez Diaz has won all of international contests during his career, leading to high expectations in the AIBA Youth World Boxing Championships.
The 18-year-old Bantamweight class (56 kg) boxer dominated the final round against Kazakhstan’s ASBC Asian Youth Continental Champion Sultan Zaurbek, and achieved a well-deserved gold medal after an excellent performance.
Cuba’s Pavlyukov Youth Memorial Tournament silver medallist Yordan Alain Hernandez has also dominated his national level contests in recent years.
The Cuban Heavyweight class (91 kg) boxer is the tallest in this division, and operated with strong jabs against Croatia’s Golden Gloves of Vojvodina Youth Tournament winner Toni Filipi.
Hernandez was too strong for the Croatian boxer, who could not repeat his previous performance in the last competition day.
Surprise of the finals
Armenia had never claimed any gold medal in a female AIBA event before, therefore Anush Grigoryan’s performance was a small surprise in Sofia.
She bagged a silver at the AIBA Junior World Boxing Championships in Albena last September, but she was not the top favourite of the Flyweight class (51 kg) in this youth event.
The 17-year-old Armenian girl was unstoppable against Italy’s AIBA Junior World Champion Irma Testa in their final.
The Italian boxer could not use up her height advantage, therefore Grigoryan secured the historical gold medal for Armenia.
Ones to watch in the future
Kazakhstan’s first finalist was Shalkar Aikynbay, who won an international tournament in 2013 in Turkestan which was named after their Sydney 2000 Olympic Champion Bekzat Sattarkhanov who died in 2001.
The 18-year-old Light Flyweight class (49 kg) boxer secured his place in the national team only in March, when he won the Youth National Championships.
Kazakhstan’s new hope controlled the first two rounds against Uzbekistan’s younger Sulaymon Latipov, and his skills were enough to win their battle.
His star teammate Abylaykhan Zhussupov was the main favourite of the Lightweight class (60 kg) in Sofia.
The AIBA Junior World Champion and two-time Asian Continental Champion controlled high fight against Romania’s Arsen Mustafam who was a quarter-finalist at the AIBA Junior World Championships in Astana three years ago.
Uzbekistan claimed the gold medal at the Welterweight class (69 kg) in the last edition of the AIBA Youth World Championships in Yerevan, Armenia where Akmalbek Kosimov stepped up to the top of the podium.
His younger compatriot Bektemir Melikuziev fought for the brightest medal against Croatia’s surprise Luka Prtenjaca.
The Uzbek hope used his best weapon in his counter-attacks in winning the bout.
Bulgaria’s EUBC European Junior Continental Champion Blagoy Naydenov was the best boxer for the host nation, and the Light Heavyweight class (81 kg) boxer who trains in the club of Slavia Sofia had a marvelous tournament, with his extra motivation on home soil resulting in a clear victory.
Box-offs for the Nanjing 2014 Youth Olympics
Two Hungarian boxers were involved in the last competition day’s box-offs which decided the last available places for the Nanjing 2014 Youth Olympics.
Their top youth athlete Richard Konnyu tried his best against Mexico’s AMBC American Youth Continental William Zepeda Segura, who moved down a weight class before the AIBA Youth World Boxing Championships.
The Hungarian Lightweight class (60 kg) boxer was smart attacking, and managed move away from Zepeda’s punches.
His counter-attacks reached the target in the second round several times, and his smart boxing resulted for him a quota to the Nanjing 2014 Youth Olympics.
His teammate Bernard Barsony could not repeat his previous performance, and Ukraine’s Oleksii Tokarchuk defeated him with his excellent final round.
Moldova’s AIBA Junior World Championships silver medallist Vladislav Tugui was involved in the AIBA Road to Sofia Program, and following his quarter-finals loss he received a right to fight for Nanjing in a box-off against Turkey’s EUBC European Junior Continental Champion Furkan Adem Avci.
The Moldovan southpaw proved his technical style with a lot of footwork and counter-attacks, but his Turkish opponent raised the rhythm of the bout and turned back their important contest.
Russia’s only female boxer who kept her chance to qualify to the Nanjing 2014 Youth Olympics was the EUBC European Women Junior Continental Champion Ekaterina Paltceva, who met with Chinese Taipei’s Huang Hsiao Wen.
The Asian lady was fifteen cm taller than the Russian boxer, who tried to reduce her physical disadvantage, but Huang was able to keep the distance between them and triumphed over her European star rival.
Stat of the AIBA Youth World Boxing Championships
Kazakhstan topped the team rankings in the 2013 AIBA World Boxing Championships in Almaty, and following that with the same excellent performance in Sofia.
United States finished as runner-up in the team rankings, while Russia placed third in the championships. Uzbekistan, Ukraine, Great Britain, Cuba, Bulgaria, Turkey and Hungary also performed well.
Quote of the day
“I was really nervous before the bout as it was my last chance to qualify to the Nanjing 2014 Youth Olympics. I enjoyed my box-off and the whole AIBA Youth World Championships in Sofia. I know I was too tired in the final round today therefore this must be do better next time and I will try to raise my physical condition in the future,” commented Hungary’s best youth boxer Richard Konnyu after his box-off victory.