2012 kick-starts with great battles in Sombor
2012 will be a huge year for women's boxing, with the AIBA Women's World Boxing Championships in Qinhuangdao, China a precursor to their big debut at the London 2012 Olympic Games. With the popularity at an all-time high, this year will usher in a new era and a major shift in the sport. Preparations have already got under way as the first event of year was held near in the Serbian town of Sombor near the Hungarian border in the northwest of the country.
Slovenia's Mateja Rajteric celebrates
In the first final of the competition, Slovenia's Mateja Rajteric ensured a personal career highlight as she defeated Hungary's National Champion Anita Bode 6:2 in the Light Flyweight category.
With the Flyweight division part of the Olympic programme, the organisers in Sombor divided the participants into two sections following a record number of entries. Italy's EU Champion Valeria Calabrese outpointed Spain's AIBA 'Road to Bridgetown' boxer Yasmina Musa in the first final while in the second Hungary's AIBA World Championships quarter-finalist Katalin Ancsin secured a gold medal by outpointing Spain's Marta Branas.
Although women's boxing in still in the developing phase in Morocco, they have come on leaps and bounds in a short space of time and their strong Bantamweight fighter Zohra Ez-Zahraoui demonstrated her growing credentials with a powerful display against Italy's 33-year-old veteran Terry Gordini to win the gold medal contest as she triumphed over her European rival 6:4. Another Moroccan, this time international elite level newcomer and Featherweight National Champion Awatif Bahouane, won gold after knocking out the inexperienced 23-year-old Belgian Joyce Van Ee in the second round of their final.
In the Olympic Lightweight category the first gold medal was achieved by Serbia's young Nina Jelic who defeated Netherlands' Jessica Belder 6:1 while the second was earned by yet another Moroccan Hasnaa Lachgar as the organisers once again split the division into two groups.
The host nation claimed themselves another two top finishes as Marija Stojanovic stopped Russia's Svetlana Shusherova and Marija Divjak triumphed over Czech Republic's Lenka Dudkova 4:2 in their respective weight categories.
An all-Dutch final was held in the highly anticipated Olympic Middleweight category where current European Champion Marichelle De Jong faced her tough compatriot 24-year-old EU Champion Nouchka Fontijn. Both boxers were exceptional but it was the younger Fontijn who turned up the heat in the final round and secured the gold medal by winning 10:5.
The tournament in Sombor also offered a youth level draw with Kazakhstan and Hungary dominating the event while Serbia and Bosnia & Herzegovina won their first ever female gold medals in an international youth tournament. The most expected bout was unfortunately cancelled with Hungary's AIBA Junior World Championships bronze medallist Nikolett Csosz given the walk over following an injury sustained by the current AIBA Junior World Champion Aydana Arapbayeva. Serbia's big hope Marija Pavlov overwhelmed Kazakhstan's Aysaule Taiyr to triumph 15:3 in the 57kg final.
With a junior competition as well, Sombor is a great tournament to see both the cream of the crop but also the sport's future star. Serbia's 15-year-old AIBA Junior World Championships bronze medallist Milena Matovic once again proved her wonderkid status as she claimed another top placed finish. Netherlands' Alicia Holzken also won her weight class as she overwhelmed Adelina Zarubina 10:2.
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