Mangiacapre and Selby dance to victory
The two star boxers covered the entire repertoire between them as the slipped, bobbed, and generally boogied their way through to the quarter-finals of the AIBA World Boxing Championships Almaty 2013.
Elsewhere we had a flash-TKO, a serious surprise and of course, a session of outstanding boxing in the last day of the preliminaries. This evening we had the pleasure of watching the Flyweights (52kg) and Welterweights (69kg) take to the ring.
Bout of the session
Ireland's Flyweight Patrick Barnes faced strong opponent Simon Nzioki of Kenya in order to progress to the quarter-finals and stunned the arena when he knocked his opponent down with a huge left hook that was timed to perfection. His opponent almost ran into the blow which dropped him almost exactly on the one minute mark of the very first round. "I've been mixing my training up and trying different things in the build-up to Rio. But I'm feeling strong", said the Irishman. "Becoming World Champion is more important to me than the Olympics".
APB boxer of the session
Welshman Andrew Selby took on Gerardo Tejeria of Cuba at Flyweight. This one was always going to be good and round one was an extremely fast affair indeed. Selby as ever looked bouncy on his toes, while the Cuban took the centre of the ring. As a boxer who can switch stance, Selby made excellent use of the space available to him while the Cuban looked solid in the exchanges. The Celtic boxer was too mobile for Tejeria to really pin down hit however. Towards the end of the second, the Cuban finally cornered the former British Lionhearts boxer and managed to vent some of his frustration. Selby looked good again going into the third. He even felt confident enough to begin some of his usual fancy footwork and showboating. For all that he is fast, he is not immune to getting caught though and Tejeria would occasionally clip him as he tried to slip away. Selby became increasingly flamboyant as the final round went on and he literally danced rings around his opponent. Love it or loath it, Selby was able to pull it off. "I said after my last fight that I didn't box that well but I was happy with that one", said the Welshman. "As the tournament goes on, I'll be getting better and better. He is a very good boxer but in the end I made him look ordinary". In response to criticism of his antics, he explained: "I don't dance around to be an arrogant person; I do it because it frustrates the opposition boxer and forces them to make mistakes. Then we are friends afterwards. That's the way I've always been".
Mangiacapre landing a hard body shot to Baghirov
WSB boxer of the session
In a good day for the Dolce & Gabbana Italia Thunder Boxers, Vincenzo Mangiacapre took to the ring against Azeri Parviz Baghirov at Welterweight. The Italian is looking very sharp and was clearly the more comfortable of the two athletes in the ring. At times, his opponent seemed completely unable to hit him. A fact that was made more emphatic by the Italian's insistence on boxing with his arms completely by his sides; until he got caught with a punch straight on the nose, then for a while he boxed with a normal guard while he regrouped from the shock. Clearly, this psychological effort didn't take too long as his hands were back down below his belt line shortly after. The Italian probably went a little too far with this risk taking but got away with it this time. Of course if you do manage to pull it off, then it's clear that you completely out classed your opponent, which is why the Italian won 3:0. For sheer crazy confidence, he was the WSB boxer of the session as well.
Surprise of the session
Marvin Cabrera from the Mexico Guerreros took on Aram Amirkhanyan from Armenia. Both boxers had a careful first round, feeling each other out without taking too many risks. But round two started a little more brightly. The two southpaws still didn't fully open up however. At this stage, I think it's fair to point out, albeit in a somewhat self-congratulatory way, that we did pick Amirkhanyan as one to watch in the early days of the competition, and we were proved right (so make sure you are paying attention from here on). The Armenian totally stuffed the Mexican's game, preventing him from boxing normally. So having started far too slowly, the Guerrero was unable to make up the lost ground and lost a split decision to the Armenian.
One to watch
Admittedly spotting hot prospects is becoming a little more obvious now we are already going into the quarter-finals. However, Alexander Besputin has impressed many in the media section here in Kazakhstan. Several journalists are already discussing his chances and giving each other knowing nods when his name is announced. The truth is that he just seems to be a cut above the rest in his category. Extremely strong, fast and with a good technical brain, Besputin is certainly very dangerous as he proved again in his bout today against Serdar Hudayberdiyev of Turkmenistan at Welterweight. Whether or not he goes all the way, he still produces wonderful boxing that is fantastic to watch, so make sure you don't miss him in his next outing.
Fact/Stat of the session
Fast though it was (at one minute), Patrick Barnes' knockdown win was actually only the second fastest win so far this year (sorry Paddy). Astonishingly, Cuban Heavyweight (91kg) boxer Erislandy Savon dropped his first round opponent Jinho Heo of Korea in less than thirty seconds for a TKO victory.
The first quarter-final matches take place across all weight categories, so be sure to tune in.