Akshalov delights the locals
Kazakhstan's Merey Akshalov warmed up the crowd at the AIBA World Boxing Championships Almaty 2013 with a courageous display of boxing against the dangerous Josh Taylor of Scotland.
In addition to that we had our usual share of excitement, interesting quotes and unusual results to ponder as the Flyweights (52kg), Light Welterweights (64kg) and Heavyweights (91kg) returned to the fold.
Bout of the session
Merey Akshalov and Josh Taylor set the arena alight with their display at Light Welterweight. The intensity of the local crowd in supporting their boxer made the bout a very high pressured affair and the venue became an uncomfortable place for the Scotsman with drums banging and hoards chanting for the Kazakh boxer. Nonetheless, the Scot remained composed and as a result this became a very technical bout. The local man looked springy on his feet against the southpaw Taylor who impressed with his concentration despite the noise. Taylor landed some good jabs but the local athlete seemed to be getting the best of things. By round three, although the Scotsman was still in contention, it was clear that Akshalov was very much in the driving seat. Both athletes showed great respect for each other at the end as the bout was awarded to the local boxer.
Double Olympic bronze medallist Patrick Barnes also made an appearance today against Milos Baltic of Serbia at Flyweight. Barnes took to the centre of the ring and traded with his young Serbian opponent. His distancing was a little more precise and he was able to avoid his opponent's shots. He began a determined and solid onslaught and took the bout to progress to the next round where he will face Kenya's Simon Nzioki (who today defeated England's Charlie Edwards). "I felt strong and I think it came down to skill in the end", said Barnes. "It felt strange though as that was the first time ever I've fought without a head guard. I had a nose injury we had to protect so we left it on for sparring too. I need to get a few rounds under my belt now so that I'm used to it".
WSB boxer of the session
Heavyweight Dolce & Gabbana Italia Thunder superstar Clemente Russo squared up to Levan Guledani of Georgia and was looking very confident for the last bout in Ring B of this afternoon session. The former World Champion and double Olympic Silver medallist initially probed with is jab but his Georgian opponent had a tight defence. Clemente began to drop his guard to encourage his opponent to open up. Once this happened, we really had a fight on our hands with the young Georgian totally un-phased by the legend he was facing. Russo took the bout after one of his typical battles. "It was difficult", admitted the Italian. "I always find the first one difficult. I've been here for seven days and all I can think about is this first fight. So there is lots of pressure. This wasn't a beautiful fight but hopefully on Monday I will produce my best stuff. The Georgian was a strong fighter and I have the Danish boxer next. He is very fast and technical so it should be good".
Erislandy Savon of Cuba meanwhile was scheduled to box the last bout in Ring A, though it was running slightly behind Ring B at that stage. With Russo already brawling with Guledani, Savon started making his way into the arena. However there was barely the time to jot the fighters' names down when Savon dropped his opponent Jinho Heo of Korea with an epic left hook that floored the Korean boxer in less than thirty seconds for a TKO victory. "I feel good about going into the next one without having wasted any energy", said the Cuban. Thus it was that Savon turned up to work and left early, while Russo was still battling on...
Andrew Selby of Wales took on highly rated American boxer Malik Jackson to open the day's boxing at Flyweight. Jackson was very impressive and caused Selby all sorts of troubles. He pursued the former British Lionheart around the ring, not allowing him to engage in his usual flamboyant style. In the third, the American southpaw landed a heavy left which caused a gasp in the Kazakh crowd. Selby won however, doing enough damage to out-point the American though he was displeased with his performance. "It didn't go too well", said the Welshman. "I had to wait for a while before I could box as I had a bye in the first round, so there was a bit of ring rust there. I've got a Cuban next so I'm going to have to pick it up now. I can do better, but the American is a good boxer to be fair to him, so at least I got the win and that bout is out of the way".
Road to Almaty boxer of the session
Miguel Correra of Chile squared off against Ryan Charles of St Lucia. He immediately took to the centre of the ring and was able to score some excellent shots on his opponent. Although coming into the end of the first round, the bout remained close. He looked more solid in the second and was landing not only a greater quantity of shots but also the more decisive ones. This continued through the third, and the Chilean got another win for the Road to Dream program.
One to watch
Brazilian Light Welterweight Everton Lopes looks like he will be capable of causing anyone difficulties this year. Fighting in an extreme southpaw stance with low hands and using unpredictable angles, he cruised to a stylish victory of Louis Colin of Mauritius. Stay tuned.
Germany's Artem Harutynyan was also back in action today against Abdel Malik Ladjali of France. The Frenchman had the reach advantage and put it to good use, however the ever forceful German kept up the pressure and he took a close bout 3:0 (29/28 from all three judges). "It was really exciting and I personally really enjoyed it. I saw that he was very ambitious and he fought hard until the end. That is why I worked hard from the first bell until the last one. That's how it's meant to be!"
Surprise of the session
Carlos Adames of the Dominican Republic won a victory over the very talented American boxer Jose Alday Jr that caused something of an editorial rethink as we had half expected to include Alday Jr in the ones to watch section. Adames looked both agile and aggressive in the ring. It will be interesting to see if he can capitalise on this performance going forward.
Quotes of the session
"I feel pleased, it was a job well done" - Erislandy Savon (Cuba) is somewhat understated about his 28 second TKO
".But sometimes you don't want to see punches coming at you!" - Patrick Barnes (Ireland) jokes in a discussion on boxers' improved visibility without a head guard