By Marcus Bellinger (@marcusknockout)
The boxing at the Asian Games took place from August 24 to September 1 in Jakarta, Indonesia and it was a tournament full of surprises, shocks and upsets with new faces as well as established names making their mark.
We begin our recap in the men’s competition where there were 7 weights being contested from light flyweight to middleweight.
Despite losing the services of elite duo Shakhram Giyasov and Murodjon Akhmadaliev with both turning pro, Uzbekistan performed out of their skin with all 7 of their male boxers reaching the final and bringing home a medal. Middleweight Israil Madrimov, light welterweight Ikboljon Kholdarov and flyweight Jasurbek Latipov all came away with gold and are now regular members of the Uzbek team so expectations are high for this trio. Light flyweight Hasanboy Dusmatov only coming away with silver was a slight surprise and the Olympic champion has suffered a few defeats in recent times.
More encouragingly were the performances of bantamweight Mirazizbek Mirzakhlilov, welterweight Bobousmon Boturov who claimed gold and lightweight Shunkor Abdurasulov who took silver with all 3 making their debut in a major tournament and this bodes very well for the future.
Fellow Asian powerhouse Kazakhstan left with a paltry 2 silver’s which was completely unexpected with welterweight Aslambek Shymbergenov and middleweight Abilkhan Amankul the only medallists. Amankul lost to Israil Madrimov in the final and fitness and form permitting expect this rivalry to continue right until the Tokyo Olympics. The Kazak squad selected was a mixture of youth and experience but current world champion Kairat Yeraliyev being knocked out in his first contest by Chatchai Butdee wouldn’t have been in the script. With a copious amount of depth and options available don’t expect such a medal drought in future major competitions.
Mongolia should be delighted with their gold and silver tally as this tiny country with a population of around 3 million continues to defy the odds. Lightweight Erdenbaat Tsendbaatar topped the podium and the 21-year-old is just getting better and better and is a genuine medal prospect for the 2020 Olympics. Light welterweight Chinzorig Battarsukh came up short against Ikboljon Kholdarov in the final but this experienced campaigner will compete with most fighters in the world and is no easy out.
A silver and 2 bronze presents an excellent achievement for the Philippines and it could have been even better as all 3 boxers lost out in tight contests. Flyweight Rogen Ladon was especially hard done by as his bout with Jasurbek Latipov came to an inconclusive end after just a round with Ladon arguably doing more than enough to claim victory. Light flyweight Carlo Paalam and middleweight Eumir Marcial lost close semi-finals but both are talented pugilists who are more than capable of mixing it at the highest level.
Despite Chatchai Butdee bowing out in the quarter-finals in the bantamweight division Thailand still managed to bring home 4 bronze medals marking a significant improvement from recent major tournaments. China grabbing a trio of bronze medals also represents a vast improvement as for whatever reason the country has been performing poorly at the senior, youth and junior levels.
After all of their 8 male boxers won a medal at this year’s Commonwealth Games confidence in the Indian camp would have been sky high but the harsh reality is that the standard of competition in Indonesia was levels above what they faced in Australia. Still, a gold and a bronze is a solid effort with middleweight Vikas Krishan taking bronze and light flyweight Amit Panghal bringing joy to his nation as he overcame Hasanboy Dusmatov. Amit had given the Uzbek 2 competitive fights in last year’s Asian and World Championships but going one better should give him so much belief and added to his Commonwealth silver, 2018 has been a fabulous one for Amit.
Daisuke Narimatsu is one of the most fan friendly fighters around and given the revelations of funds not being given to him coming to light recently it was very pleasing that this Japanese warrior brought home a very credible bronze at light welterweight. Unfortunately bantamweight Hayato Tsutsumi went out after his first outing but make no mistake this young man is a star of the future and should only grow from his first experience at a major senior event. Finally Jordan, Kyrgyzstan North Korea and Indonesia all picked up a single medal each.
Onto the women’s bracket and the 3 weights on show were flyweight, featherweight at lightweight.
China came away from Jakarta with 2 golds as Chang Yuan prevailed at flyweight and Yin Junhua was victorious at featherweight. The lightweight final was won by South Korea’s Oh Yeon-Ji.
The other medals were shared out between Thailand who won a silver and a bronze, Chinese Taipei 2 bronze, North Korea 2 silver and a bronze and Vietnam and Indonesia a bronze. Surprisingly both India and Kazakhstan came away empty handed but given the outstanding crop of young female talent coming through expect both country’s to be back in the medals in the not so distant future.
Lastly it has subsequently been revealed that AIBA will be reintroducing Judging protests after ugly scenes marred the women’s flyweight final as 2 North Korean coaches refused to leave the ring and had to be escorted away by police. The organisation is under intense scrutiny as the threat of boxing being expelled from the Tokyo Olympics is still a possibility if AIBA doesn’t get its house in order.
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