By Marcus Bellinger-
The 2017 world championships have been taking place in Hamburg Germany and we reached the quarter-final stage with plenty of Asian involvement.
The afternoon session kicked off at light flyweight (49kg) as Colombia’s Yurbejen Martinez faced Mongolia’s Gan- Erdene Gankhuyag. Gankhuyag started pretty well in the opening round and managed to stay with the high work rate of Martinez as both men landed with plenty of punches. Gankhuyag began to really feel the pace in round 2 and he was given a standing 8 count as Martinez assumed full control. Martinez never relented and another standing 8 count put the seal on a unanimous decision for the Olympic silver medallist.
Staying at light flyweight (49kg) Kazak Zhomart Yerzhan was up against Russian Vasilii Egorov. Egorov’s quick feet and in and out movement saw him take a close opening round. Yerzhan had success with the straight left hand in round 2 and his accuracy definitely improved. Yerzhan again had success from range but things became untidy in the final round which brought Egorov right back in to proceedings. We went to the cards and it was Yerzhan who got the unanimous decision in what was an incredibly tight bout.
Reigning Olympic champion at light flyweight (49kg) Hasanboy Dusmatov had Indian Amit Phangal as his last 8 opponent. These 2 met in the semi-finals of this year’s Asian championships in a very close contest. Both defences were difficult to breach in the first round with very few punches landing. Amit opened up more offensively and took round 2. Dusmatov used his experience to win the 3rd and take the unanimous decision in what was a very competitive encounter and Amit again showed he’s a bright talent for India going forward.
It was then on to the bantamweights (56kg) as Kairat Yeraliyev from Kazakhstan took on German Omar El-Hag. El-Hag came out with the intention of making it a fight but by the end of the opening 3 minutes Yeraliyev was beginning to find his range. Yeraliyev then controlled the pace in round 2 and picked El-Hag apart with quality combinations. Yeraliyev simply played with El-Hag in round 3 and won a deserved unanimous decision.
Also at bantamweight (56kg) Tunisia’s Bilel Mhamdi was up against Gaurav Bidhuri from India. This was a real clash of styles with Bidhuri pouring forward and wanting to fight inside and Mhamdi preferring to keep it at range. After a close opening stanza Mhandi was deducted a point for use of the head in round 2 and was up against it. Both swung for the fences in the final round with Mhamdi possibly landing the cleaner blows but a cut to the Tunisian brought the bout to a halt with 20 seconds to go. We went to the cards and it was Bidhuri who claimed the unanimous decision to grab a guaranteed medal at his first world championships.
Lastly at bantamweight (56kg) it was America’s Duke Ragan versus China’s Zhang Jiawei. Ragan attempted to use the jab but fell short in the first round with Zhang darting in and out with punches. The American found the target far more frequently in round 2 and looked assured. For some reason Ragan’s output dropped in the 3rd but it didn’t prove to be costly and he was awarded the unanimous verdict.
Moving on to the light welterweight (64kg) division Armenia’s Hovhannes Bachkov squared off against Mongolia’s Chinzorig Baatarsukh. Baatarsukh made a good start but by the end of the 1st Bachkov had imposed himself on the contest. Baatarsukh did a much better job at keeping his opponent at bay whilst Bachkov landed some solid body shots and continued to press the action in round 2. Bachkov threw the kitchen sink at Baatarsukh who withstood the onslaught and landed with some good shots of his own in a frantic final round. With not much to separate them it was Bachkov who won the split decision to advance to the semi-finals.
Uzbek Ikboljon Kholdarov had the task of defeating home fighter Artem Harutyunyan at light welterweight (64kg). In an eventful opening round Kholdarov lost a point and was unlucky not to be awarded a knockdown. Harutyunyan was floored by a terrific counter right hook at the start of round 2 and the Uzbek scored with more solid hooks and straight shots. Another point deduction for use of the shoulder at the start of the final round left Kholdarov in a really tight spot and Harutyunyan was competitive in rounds 1 and 3 and looked to have done enough allowing for the point deductions, however it was Kholdarov who was declared the winner via split decision.
The Middleweights (75kg) then entered the ring with Cuba’s Arlen Lopez taking on Kazak Abilkhan Amankul. Not much of consequence was landed by either man in the opening 3 minutes. Both scored with jabs in the 2nd before Lopez landed with some hard punches to win the round. Lopez was trying to make the fight in the final round with again not much of note landed but it was Amankul who was a touch fortunate to get the split decision to avenge his WSB final loss to Lopez from July.
Also at middleweight (75kg) Israil Madrimov from Uzbekistan clashed with American Troy Isley. In a cracking opening round Madrimov dug in some hurtful looking punches but Isley responded well and scored with some quality shots of his own. Isley targeted the body with decent success in round 2 but Madrimov was still dangerous. With it all to play for going in to the last, Madrimov simply outworked Isley but it was the American who was awarded the split decision rather fortunately.
Up at heavyweight (91kg) the outstanding Kazak Vassiliy Levit faced Australian Jason Whateley. Levit took his time early on but by the end of the first stanza he already had the measure of his opponent. Levit was using Whateley as target practise in round 2 with the Australian showing plenty of guts to stay in the fight. The last round was very much the same and Levit took the deserved unanimous decision.
Roy Korving from the Netherlands was up against Uzbek Sanjar Tursunov at heavyweight (91kg) Tursunov picked his shots nicely to win a quiet opening round. Korving offered no offensive threat at all and Tursunov eased home to what should have been a unanimous decision victory but 1 judge somehow gave the bout to Korving but was thankfully overruled by the other 4.
The evening session began in the flyweight (52kg) division with India’s Kavinder Bisht taking on Korea’s Kim Inkyu. Kim was immediately on to the front foot and made an aggressive start in the opening round. Kim’s greater physical strength proved to be the difference in round 2 and a cut to the eye of Bisht due to a head clash gave the Indian further problems. Bisht was deducted a point for holding in round 3 and Kim rightly won the unanimous decision.
Staying at flyweight (52kg) Jasurbek Latipov of Uzbekistan took on Colombia’s Seiber Avila. Avila probably edged most of the opening 3 minutes but Latipov had his moments as the round progressed. It was again tricky to split them in round 2 with landed punches at a premium. Both gave it their all in the final round but it was Latipov who prevailed via split decision in a gruelling clash that could have gone either way.
It was then on to the lightweights (60kg) with Mongolia’s Otgondalai Dorjnyambuu facing Luis Cabrera from Venezuela. Cabrera floored Dorjnyambuu with a beautiful left hand in what was the standout moment in round 1. Dorjnyambuu was the aggressor in round 2 but there wasn’t always method to his tactic and at times he smothered his work. Dorjnyambuu never stopped coming forward in the 3rd and he was awarded the split decision in a really tight encounter.
Also at lightweight (60kg) Georgia’s Otar Eraanosyan was up against Elnur Abduraimov from Uzbekistan. The pair traded blows in a highly entertaining opening stanza. The toe-to-toe action continued in a brilliant 2nd round but it felt like it was exactly the sort of fight that Eraanosyan desired. Abduraimov had success with straight shots early on in round 3 but Eraanosyan roared back and took the unanimous decision in a fabulous fight.
Next up at welterweight (69kg) Uzbekistan’s Shakhram Giyasov took on England’s Pat McCormack. McCormack boxed well off the back foot in the opening round with Giyasov being made to miss for the most part. Giyasov ended the 2nd round well but was being frustrated by McCormack who was boxing very smartly and countering well. Giyasov pursued McCormack who maintained his composure but it was the Uzbek who was declared the victor via unanimous decision.
Still at welterweight (69kg) Mongolia’s Tuvshinbat Dyamba was up against Germany’s Abass Barraou. Both were on the front foot which made for a highly entertaining affair. Barao seem to be a slight step ahead over the first 2 rounds and the pair left it all in the ring in round 3 and it was Barraou who gained the unanimous decision in a wonderful fight to watch.
Staying in the welterweight (69kg) division Kazakhstan’s Ablaikhan Zhussupov squared off against Gabriel Maestre from Venezuela. Zhussupov peppered his man with southpaw lefts and boxed excellently to win the opening round. Maestre continued to struggle with the movement of his opponent but a clash of heads gave Zhussupov a bad cut to deal with. Round 3 was rather scrappy but Zhussupov did enough to stay out of trouble and take the split decision.
Up at light heavyweight (81kg) it was an all Asian clash between Kazakhstan’s Yerik Alzhanov and Uzbekistan’s Bektemir Melikuziev. Alzhanov landed a cracking right hand which proved to be the best punch in round 1. Melikuziev got to grips with proceedings slightly more in round 2 and Alzhanov was becoming less and less accurate. After a final round that was blighted by interruptions it was Melikuziev who managed to grind out the split decision and advance to the semi-finals.
Tajikistan’s Shabbos Megmatulloev was in action against Ecuador’s Carlos Mina at light heavyweight (81kg). Mina used the jab to good effect in round 1 and tried to make his extra size count. Megmatulloev landed some neat shots to the body but after 2 rounds it was difficult to separate them. Mina dominated the final round and the man from Ecuador claimed the deserved unanimous point’s victory.
Finally at super heavyweight (91+kg) it was another all Asian tussle as Bakhodir Jalolov from Uzbekistan tangled with Kanshybek Kunkabayev. Jalolov manage to box at range in the opening round and Kunkabayev was made to miss repeatedly. The pattern of the contest then changed as Kunkabayev got close and forced Jalolov backwards in round 2. With the Uzbek now desperately weary Kunkabayev poured on the pressure and Jalolov had to clinch and hold on numerous occasions. We went to the scorecards and it was Kunkabayev who rightly took the split decision and gained revenge for his defeat at the hands of Jalolov at the Asian championships in the process.
By Marcus Bellinger
Amidst all the chaos which has seen AIBA, the governing body of amateur boxing plunged in to a huge power struggle in recent months it would be very easy to forget that there is in fact an upcoming world championships on the horizon. The event takes place in Hamburg Germany from August 25 to September 3rd and sees fighters from all over the globe compete to try and win the much coveted gold medal.
We take a look at 3 pugilists from the Asian continent who have the capability of at least grabbing a medal if not finishing at the top spot.
Abilkhan Amankul, Kazakhstan, middleweight (75kg).
At first viewing in a WSB bout in Russia it was immediately clear that this young man oozed class and was a future superstar. Amankul’s opponent that day, Radzhab Radzhabov was fortunate to survive the 5 rounds and the Kazak had shown a great temperament to prevail on away soil. His only WSB loss in 5 bouts was in this year’s final against world and Olympic champion Arlen Lopez in a nip and tuck encounter. After winning various Youth tournaments in 2015 including his national title, Amankul moved up to the senior level in 2016 capturing national glory in the process. The 20-year-old is extremely technically efficient and possesses plenty of power and the Asian Championship Bronze Medallist should be in the mix for gold in Hamburg.
Israil Madrimov, Uzbekistan, middleweight (75kg).
One of the most exciting and explosive fighters around, Madrimov has an unblemished 3-0 record in the World Series of Boxing. The 22-year-old likes to fight in bursts and when he lets go with combinations he does it with real authority and with bad intentions. He can leave himself open at times and sometimes does give the impression that he could be out boxed but he showed excellent maturity and poise when scoring a unanimous decision in this season’s WSB quarter-final first leg clash with Arlen Lopez. Madrimov won welterweight Silvers at the 2013 Asian Youth championships, 2014 Asian Games and at the 2014 Uzbek nationals before moving up to middleweight to take national gold in 2016. He qualified for this year’s world championships by claiming gold at the Asian championships in Tashkent. And will be a difficult man to beat for every other middleweight.
Kavinder Singh Bisht, India, flyweight (52kg).
As one of the new generation of gifted Indian boxers Singh travels to his first world championships with plenty to gain and not a whole lot to lose. A good work rate and consistent combination puncher make Singh a fan friendly fighter to watch and his style should appeal to the judges. The youngster booked his place in Germany by winning his box-off at the Asian Championships via walkover but showed plenty of promise in his quarter-final defeat to eventual gold medallist Jasurbek Latipov in that same tournament. Given flyweight is arguably the most wide open of all the divisions a medal of some sort for Singh is definitely a possibility.
By Marcus Bellinger
The term Golden Age comes from Greek mythology and was used by early Greek and Roman poets referring back to when mankind lived in a better time and were pure. As a metaphor it is used when describing a period in a field of endeavor when great tasks were accomplished and it is often used when referring to an outstanding point in time for a team/country in sport or a particular genre of music or film.
In boxing circles over the last year or so we have been told by a number of scribes and pundits that this is a golden age of British boxing and whilst in certain aspects such as crowds, the number of big events and TV coverage you can make a strong argument in terms of quality of fighters and number of elite operators I think it is at best debatable.
One nation who is undoubtedly experiencing a golden age of talent inside the ring is Japan and in this piece we aim to come up with some of the reasons why and explore the unique boxing scene of the land of the rising sun.
Japan certainly isn’t an amateur powerhouse on the international front but a strong high school system is the breeding ground for much of the young outstanding talent that is currently making waves in the sport and all 10 of the reigning titlists (interim/regular not included) are below the age of 30. Japan has a rich history of producing quality fighters especially from 105 to 130 lb giving young boxers plenty of potential heroes to aspire to.
When turning professional a fighter aligns themselves to a Gym who handle all the promotional and managerial responsibilities. In house contests are not permitted by the Japan Boxing Commission (JBC so although there are more notable and larger Gyms there isn’t the same disparity between stables as there is for example in the US or the UK for obvious reasons. Fighters also regularly appear on other promoters shows and there is definitely a more flexible approach in many areas of the sport and being with a smaller Gym doesn’t mean you can’t reach the top.
The JBC certainly have a unique outlook when it comes to belts as there are only 4 other straps sanctioned apart from the 4 universally recognised world titles. These are the WBC Youth, the domestic, OPBF and very recently the WBO Asia Pacific. For those unaware the OPBF (Oriental Pacific Boxing Federation) is an affiliate of the WBC and is the Asian equivalent of the European title.
For a fighter to be able to challenge for a world title in Japan they must have won either the Japanese, OPBF or WBO Asia Pacific bauble first. This gives the land of the rising sun arguably the strongest domestic structure in the world and boxers must prove they are the best in the country and the region before moving onto world level. We’ve often seen Japanese pugilists winning world hardware in under 10 fights but because they are properly tested before hand the likes of Kazuto Ioka, Naoya Inoue and Kosei Tanaka have handled the step up with aplomb. Also it’s a rare occasion that a fighter from Japan will look out of their depth in a world title clash especially from strawweight to super featherweight. It should also be stated that only in 2013 were the WBO and IBF finally recognised by the JBC and this of course has given boxers more options when challenging for world titles.
Pay-per view is an often strongly debated issue around the world but the model is null and void in Japan with terrestrial channels broadcasting a vast amount of top flight boxing in the country. Fuji TV, NTV, TBS, TV Tokyo and CBC are the main free to air outlets that showcase many of the countries biggest stars giving them a huge platform and reach.
A handful of fighters have deals with a specific network and notable world title bills that are on free to air TV in Japan are routinely viewed by millions of people. Kazuto Ioka and Shinsuke Yamanaka have attracted audiences of 8 million and the bout between Ryota Murata and Hassan N’Dam was watched by over 10 million and this shows there’s a huge appetite for boxing. TV is split regionally across the country so different areas have different channels so ratings for the whole nation are not always available. Satellite channels G+ and WOWOW broadcast some local cards and international fights and online pay services Boxingraise and ASign have given youngsters and domestic and regional boxers a much needed platform to display their skills.
There’s no doubt with the number of belts that it is easier these days to capture a world strap but the speed in terms of time and number of fights which many Japanese fighters are claiming world titles shouldn’t be underestimated and more often than not they are defeating solid opposition to do it. With a cluster of emerging talent ready to challenge on the world stage and some superb starlets in the amateur ranks the golden age of Japanese boxing is highly unlikely to be a flash in the pan and expect the country to be a huge force over the next decade.
Article by Marcus Bellinger - Who can be followed on twitter @marcusknockout
When we have some free time we're hoping to add a series of fun articles to the site. Hopefully these will be enjoyable little short features