The semi-finals of the Nanjing 2014 Youth Olympic Games were held in China, where several return matches of the final bouts of the AIBA Youth World Championships took place amidst a packed day of action.
Bout of the day
Both the United States and Sweden have excellent women’s boxers, and two of their biggest future stars are Jajaira Gonzalez and Agnes Alexiusson.
After a ferocious battle between the two in April, their battle was one of the most eagerly anticipated clashes on the second competition day.
Gonzalez shocked the Swedish star in their quarter-final bout in Sofia, but Alexiusson has won three events since their last contest, and tried to use different tactics against her tough US opponent in Nanjing.
The American has some lethal punches in her arsenal however, and used her aggression to win their rematch in the Youth Olympic Games, with the final result a win for the US boxer who will be fighting for the gold against Ireland’s AIBA Junior World Champion Ciara Ginty.
Team of the day
China’s Chang Yuan became a gold medallist at the AIBA Junior World Championships in Albena, Bulgaria one year ago, where she defeated Armenia’s tough Anush Grigoryan for the gold.
The 17-year-old star had to fight once again with the Armenian boxer in the AIBA Youth World Championships in Sofia where this time the eventual winner Grigoryan was able to stop her.
In the semi-final of the Nanjing Youth Olympic Games they had to fight each other for the third time in a year.
Chang Yuan tried to control the contest in the opening round, and found the best fighting distance from the second round.
Grigoryan was great with utilising her aggressive attacks in the last round, but her efforts were not enough to turn back their third battle, as Chang Yuan secured her place in the gold medal bout on home soil where she will meet Italy’s Irma Testa.
China’s second boxer to advance to the final of Nanjing 2014 was Lu Ping, who began his boxing career in 2008, and after six years of experience boxing was able to reach the gold medal bout on home soil.
The 18-year-old Flyweight class (52 kg) boxer, who trains with coach Liu Yanghai in the city of Zunyi, had to meet with India’s ASBC Asian Youth Continental Champion Gaurav Solanki following their first bout in the Sofia qualifiers.
China’s new star athlete used some wicked combinations in their rematch which reached the target regularly, while the Indian boxer was only able to rally in the final round, which wasn’t enough for victory.
Surprise of the day
Azerbaijan’s EUBC European Junior Continental Championships silver medallist Rufat Huseynov was a bronze medallist in the qualification event in Sofia, but in spite of his previous results he was not the favourite against Kazakhstan’s current AIBA World Champion Shalkar Aikynbay in Nanjing.
Their contest was a spectacular one, as Huseynov tried to use up his height advantage against the energetic Kazakh boxer in their Light Flyweight class (49 kg) semi-final.
The final verdict of their equal bout was a split decision win for Huseynov who caused the biggest surprise of the second competition day.
Ones to watch
Italy’s Irma Testa surprised the world one year ago, when she claimed the gold medal at the 2013 AIBA Women’s Junior World Championships in Albena, Bulgaria.
Testa won her last active preparation event, the EUBC European Women’s Youth Continental Championships on home soil in Assisi, and she is the youngest qualified athlete of the women’s part of the competition, and also the tallest boxer in her category.
She began her competition in Nanjing against Turkey’s experienced Neriman Istik, and used her longer hands as a weapon from the first seconds.
The Turkish hope could not reduce the fighting distance, and therefore Testa advanced to the finals of the weight class.
United States’ top men’s athlete Shakur Stevenson began his boxing career in 2002 at the age of 5, and therefore his experiences in boxing is one of the biggest among all qualified athletes.
The US Flyweight class (52 kg) boxer won the 2013 AIBA Junior World Championships in Kiev, and continued the winning path at the 2014 AIBA Youth World Boxing Championships in Sofia.
17-year-old Stevenson had to meet with Great Britain’s Muhammad Ali, which was a rematch of the final of the Sofia qualifiers.
The result of their bout was the same as in April, which means Stevenson advances towards the gold medal bout, while Ali will fight in the bronze medal match tomorrow.
Stat/Fact of the day
Twenty-six athletes advanced to the gold medal bouts in the Nanjing Youth Olympic Games, where seventeen nations will have at least one boxer in the final.
Cuba, and United States of America have got three finalists, while Bulgaria, China, Italy, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan have two boxers remaining in the gold medal bouts.
Quote of the day
“The training was great yesterday but I felt myself slow today. There are always so much nerves in the first fight in a tournament and it showed today. I am so sad and disappointed that I could not make it to the finals but I will try to get the bronze medal tomorrow. In comparison to our first fight with my US rival Jajaira Gonzalez in Sofia our bout was little bit different. I felt I worked more with my feet and punched more in this bout,” added Sweden’s Agnes Alexiusson after her second loss to Jajaira Gonzalez.
The consolation bouts are to be scheduled on the third competition day of the Nanjing Youth Olympics on Monday.
The thirteen bronze medal bouts will be decided, and the fifth place bouts have also been scheduled on Day 3.