World Boxing Championships 2013: Day 1 wrap-up
After a stunning start this afternoon, the AIBA World Boxing Championships Almaty 2013 continued in fantastic form this evening with a colourful opening ceremony and more excellent boxing.
We saw two brave displays by Road to Almaty boxers and two new boxers to keep an eye on this year, plus a few other surprises.
Bout of the session
A slightly messy affair and certainly not a purists pick; the bout between Akhmedov Shahriyor of Tajikistan and Oleksandr Shepeliuk from Ukraine at Flyweight (52kg) was nonetheless noteworthy for the intensity and entertainment value it provided. The southpaw boxer from Tajikistan made it a highly unconventional match with both the boxers tying up frequently in fairly energetic grappling exchanges with lots of close shots thrown. However, there was method in the madness with Shahriyor's extreme fitness becoming apparent by the final round. By that time, the Ukrainian was clearly struggling and on the wrong end of a standing 8 count. Shahriyor went on to win the bout 3:0.
Upset of the day
Astana Arlans Kazakhstan WSB team member Ainar Karlson from Estonia went toe to toe with fellow Heavyweight (91kg) Juan Nogueira from Brazil. Both fighters showed a lot of respect for one another. The Brazilian southpaw's greatest success to date is a 7th place in the Pan-American Championships, but he proved himself to be more than a match for the WSB level boxer. "It was a hard bout", said Nogueira. "He is a good boxer but our styles matched up well for me".
APB boxer of the day
Bulgarian Flyweight Aleksandar Aleksandrov took on Elie Konki of France. The Bulgarian is looking very sharp (as indeed was his opponent to be fair), but Aleksandrov seems to have been blessed with very. very heavy hands for a 52kg boxer and is not afraid to let them fly either. If we can dare say it this early in the event, he looks like a contender.
WSB boxer of the session
Dolce & Gabbana Italia Thunder Imre Szello from Hungary looked good in his opening bout with Abdeljalil Abouhamada from Morocco at Heavyweight. The Moroccan came on well towards the end of the first round, really finding his range and making use of his reach to land his jab. However you were always left with the suspicion that Szello had more to offer. The WSB star boxed with his hands quite low for much of the match and made use of his good slipping and leaning back skills to avoid damage. He began parrying well too and with his opponent's game nullified, Szello began to land shots his own with much greater accuracy to take the victory.
Road to Almaty boxers of the session
Muhammed Waseem from Pakistan fought gamely against his southpaw opponent from Turkmenistan Zarip Jumayev at Flyweight. Waseem was cut with 1:22 remaining in the second round, but fought gamely on. The third round was gruelling on both fighters but Jumayev's superior conditioning began to show, leaving the brave Road to Almaty boxer out of the Championships.
David Light from New Zealand also put on a brave performance against Rustam Tulaganov from Uzbekistan. Light took to the centre of the ring with great confidence and it was clear that the Road to Almaty had done him good. He worked perhaps a little too hard in round one and returned to the stool quite gassed for the break. By the end of the second, the fatigue was beginning to take its toll and the Uzebek boxer started to run the show. Light looked worse for wear going into the third, yet he held his nerve though despite a progressively intensive onslaught and had the guts to try to bring the fight to his opponent whenever he could. In some ways he was unlucky today with a tough opponent, and at least he can say he "left it all in the ring".
One to watch
Thai Flyweight Chatchai Butdee looked very composed in his bout against Siarhei Loban of Belarus. Kneeling by the side of the ring before the bout and paying homage in a fashion akin to the ancient Thai boxers of his homeland, the southpaw was excellent on his feet once he got up. He made use of good linear movements to score repeatedly and on occasion, heavily on his opponent. He dropped the Belarusian in the third with a body shot and wrapped up the win 3:0 on points. He now faces WSB Mexico Guerreros' Elias Emigdio in the next round. That's a tough one and will be real test for the young man.
The Philippine's Roldan Boncales also caught the eye at Flyweight. He "managed" his tricky opponent Eddie Barillas (Guatemala) extremely well. "I trained really hard for this", he said. "And now I have to immediately switch my attention to my next opponent".
Fact of the day
The opening ceremony was a vibrant affair with fantastic lighting and dancing along with the nation's flags being paraded. A nice touch was the homage paid to Kazakhstan's previous boxing heroes, with a parade of champions whose victories dated back through the soviet era to the first half of the twentieth century.
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