Akhmedov takes centre stage
The session proved to be an exciting one all round with several unexpected results and interesting quotes as the Flyweights (52kg), Light Welterweights (64kg) and Heavyweights (91kg) continued in their push for the podium.
A prodigy? Akhmedov shows what he can do
Bout of the session
Shahriyor Akhmedov from Tajikistan took on World Series of Boxing (WSB) veteran Vincenzo Picardi at Flyweight. On Day One of the tournament, we spotted Akhmedov and awarded him the bout of the session already. The Tajik boxer stunned us even further today by looking absolutely fantastic in his bout against the experienced Dolce & Gabbana Italia Thunder boxer. His mobility was first class; he is deceivingly strong for his slight frame and possesses phenomenal hand speed and accuracy. The most impressive thing about his performance however, was the distance he could cover to reach his opponent. It was like watching a Michael Jordan and Usain Bolt hybrid with boxing gloves. His balance was excellent and on numerous times, when he would reposition himself to avoid a punch, the Italian would go crashing to the canvas simply owing to this sudden displacement. It wasn't that Picardi was bad either; Akhmedov just simply revealed himself to be an astonishing prospect who tore the WSB veteran apart literally without breaking a sweat. It was an absolute masterclass.
APB boxer of the session
Armen Zakaryan of Russia looked good against the Hungarian Andras Vadasz at Light Welterweight. He is clearly very well prepared physically for this tournament, with his endurance base keeping him looking springy even in the final thirty seconds of round three. He took a comfortable win 3:0 to advance.
WSB boxer of the session
Abdelkader Chadi, who fought for the Algeria Desert Hawks last season, did an excellent job in defeating his tough Belarusian opponent Yauheni Dauhaliavets at Light Welterweight. The bout wasn't straightforward for Chadi, with Dauhaliavets pushing him hard. Both boxers landed some significant blows on each other but in the end, Chadi's experience came to the fore. "I was happy with that", he said. "I was out against a boxer who was very strong and physically well prepared. Fortunately, I managed to pull through".
Road to Almaty boxer of the session
All things considered, it is laudable that Afghanistan is able to produce athletes capable of mixing it on the world stage at all given the current economic and political landscape in the country. Flyweight Mohammad Nazari took to the ring full of intent against Zarip Jumayev of Turkmenistan. Nazari was clearly a capable boxer but he overestimated his evasion skills and spent far too long in the first round with his hands by his waist. Even after he had been hit a few times, he continued with this approach. Clearly, his coaches must have had a word about this during the break as his hands were back up in round two and he became more of a threat and less of a target. As a boxer, he has a massive overhand right and whenever this landed, the sound reverberated around the arena like a wrecking ball on a demolition job. He pushed Jumayev all the way, and was extremely unlucky not to be able to edge a victory in a very tight battle.
Surprise of the session
We had two talking points for this section today as two of Mexico Guerreros' leading boxers made early departures (see below for the second of these). Elias Emigdio, one of the leading lights of both the Guerreros and national teams exited early to Chatchai Butdee of Thailand at Flyweight. This bout was an excellent one but, in further testimony to Akhmedov (above), it was difficult to focus on it as the Tajikistani boxer was just so compelling to watch. Nonetheless tearing our eyes away from the newly uncovered prodigy and forcing them over to the other ring was still worthwhile as we witnessed a high octane bout with a desperate Emigdio urgently hunting his man down with the Thai athlete more than matching his efforts in a bid to stay ahead. Across both rings this was easily the most exciting period of the tournament so far (at least for neutrals).
One to watch
Canada's Yves Ulysse again impressed at Light Welterweight. Jointly with Butdee and Akhmedov, he was responsible for today's wow factor. In this case, the fleet-footed Canadian was able to dominate the very dangerous Juan Romero of the Mexico Guerreros. Well aware of Romero's hooks, the Canadian circled and moved continuously to avoid danger whilst seemingly landing his own blows at will. By the second round it was becoming clear that Romero was behind, so he had to chase the victory. This only played into the Canadian's strategy, and towards the end of round three Ulysse was actually resisting the urge to smile in the ring. "I feel good", said the grinning boxer after the bout. "I stepped up my game because that was a brutal match. It was a spicy fight with a good opponent who has helped me improve for the next fight. The foot work was important because when you are fighting with a bullying kind of boxer, you don't want to exchange with him. Romero has a good left hook and body shot and I needed to stay out of the range of those".
Quote of the session
"The key is never stand directly in front of his face; move left or move right, but move! It's like when you are driving a car, there is always a blind spot, you need to move so that you don't get hit from that direction" - Canada's Yves Ulysse on the philosophy of evasion.
Fact/Stat of the day
Kazakhstan is the world's largest land locked country, and Almaty was the capital city until 1997, (it is now Astana). Despite this, the city is still the country's commercial and cultural hub.