The winners of the fourth competition day at the AIBA Youth World Championships advanced to the last 16 in Sofia, moving one step closer to the coveted medal positions.
Although many great performances were to be found on the day, it was the home favourite Daniel Asenov who impressed the most, while Ireland were perhaps the strongest overall nation, with four winning contests at the Armeec Arena on Day 4.
Bout of the day
Bulgaria’s EUBC European Junior Champion Daniel Asenov is one of the most highly tipped boxers in this tournament for the host nation.
The 17-year-old Bulgarian Flyweight class (52 kg) boxer has claimed several medals in past international events, but he had a very tough opponent to deal with on Day 4 in Russia’s defending Youth National Champion Pavel Fedorov.
Asenov used an aggressive style to break through Fedorov’s defense in the opening round, impressing the judges with his ferocity and energy.
Although the taller boxer, Fedorov could not stop Asenov’s attacks, but improved in the second round. Their bout was a frenetic clash which was teamed with much technical skill, and was the best viewing to be found on the fourth competition day.
Asenov ultimately proved victorious in a close but deserved victory, and will now meet Mongolia’s Battamir Ganbold in the next round.
Team of the day
Ireland’s AIBA Junior World Champion Ciara Ginty is being tipped as the next Katie Taylor, and the Lightweight class (60 kg) star was named the AIBA Woman Junior Boxer of the Year in 2013.
The 17-year-old faced a tough clash with home favourite Nikol Mladenova in Sofia, with the Bulgarian Youth National Champion put up a brave, but losing effort.
Mladenova was effective in the first round, but Ginty only grew stronger, controlling the rest of the fight with ease, leading to her hand being raised at the end of the bout.
Though Ginty is perhaps the stand out star of the Irish side, her teammate Christina Desmond won a silver medal in the last edition of the AIBA Women’s Youth World Championships.
Following that accolade, she moved up to the Middleweight class (75 kg) in anticipation of the impending Nanjing 2014 Youth Olympics.
Her first opponent in Sofia was Russia’s European Junior Champion Ekaterina Serova, who was strongly tipped for success in the championships.
Desmond started the fight the better, and though Serova rallied in the third round, it was the Irish boxer who proved victorious in an relatively surprising contest.
Ireland’s Youth National Champion at the Heavyweight class (91 kg) Michael Gallagher competed in this age group last year, and has spent the last year raising his international experience in various tournaments.
Gallagher arrived in Sofia aiming to qualify for the Nanjing 2014 Youth Olympics, but he endured a tough fight against Canada’s Evagelos Frangos.
Frangos was impressive in the first round, looking fresh and strong, but the luck of the Irish was with Gallagher, who was able to step on the gas in rounds two and three, eventually claiming a narrow win.
Ireland’s fourth boxer to step into the ring on Day 4 was one also one of their best in William Donoghue, the current AIBA Junior World Champion.
The 17-year-old Flyweight class (52 kg) boxer is one of the favourites for gold, and controlled his bout from the first seconds against Germany’s Domenik Hirsch. His victory saw him progress to the next round, where he will be fighting against AIBA Team’s ASBC Asian Youth Champion Gaurav Solanki.
Donoghue’s victory made it four victories in a row for Ireland, earning the coveted team of the day accolade.
AIBA Road to Sofia boxer of the day
AIBA Road to Sofia Program boxer Evanders Servuts is one of the youngest boxers in the entire AIBA Youth World Championships in Sofia, with the Latvian not turning 17 until December.
Despite his tender age, the Latvian was impressive in the first preliminary round of the Super Heavyweight class (+91 kg).
Servut is a Ricardas Tamulis Junior Tournament winner, and trains under Latvian boxing legend Vladislav Sokolovs.
The youngster dominated his bout against Kyrgyzstan’s Almambet Abidinov, leading to the referee stopping the contest after sustained pressure.
Surprises of the day
Nigeria’s Mutiat Adebayo has won five national level tournaments in the last three years, but the young African boxer had never previously fought out of her home country.
Adebayo is not yet 17, and had an ominous start to the competition against Bulgaria’s most experienced female boxer Nadezhda Orlinova, a relative veteran who took part in the 2013 AIBA Women’s Junior World Championships in Albena.
The Nigerian boxer was undaunted however, and her strong punches and quick jabs hit the mark often, leading to victory, and Bulgaria’s first defeat of the competition.
Galymbek Kenzhebayev is the head coach of Kazakhstan’s youth squad, and had problems selecting his best option to represent the country in the male Flyweight class (52 kg).
The eventual choice was Yergesh Orazkhan, who won the Kazakhstan Youth National Championships in February.
The 17-year-old boxer had already eliminated Italy’s EUBC European Junior Championships bronze medallist Vincenzo Colella, but came unstuck against Chinese Taipei’s Tu Po Wei.
Tu started the contest the better fighter, and continued to box well the longer the bout went on. In a career best performance, he surprisingly eliminated the Kazakh boxer, and will look to claim more big name scalps as the tournament progresses.
Ones to watch
Japan’s AIBA Junior World Champion Kasumi Saeki is one of the overall favourites of the female Flyweight class (51 kg). The Japanese National Champion began boxing in 2008 and has lost only two contests in her career so far.
The Osaka High School student is deceptively powerful, and did not waste time in her match against South Africa’s Youth National Champion Didi Nthabiseng.
Saeki was devastating, reigning down powerful punches as she knocked down her African rival three times in the first round, leading to the Turkish referee stopping the bout after just eighty seconds.
Kazakhstan’s AIBA Women’s Youth World Championships bronze medallist Alua Balkybekova trains in the southern part of the country, but her career prospects are definitely pointing north.
Balkybekova is one of the favourites for gold in Sofia, and she proved her dominance in beating Moldova’s Ecaterina Carp, who came into the fight having won an international tournament in Ukraine three months ago.
Despite the accolade, Balkybekova bagged Kazakhstan’s first victory on Day 4, and advanced to the next preliminary round.
Ukraine’s defending AIBA Junior World Champion Robert Marton is undefeated in 2014, and started his competition as one of the gold medal contenders of the Heavyweight class (91 kg) in Sofia.
The 17-year-old boxer won all of the rounds 10:9 against Greece’s top youth boxer Dimitrios Maganaris, utilising a wide range of skills in a virtuoso performance which delighted the watching public at the Armeec Arena.
Quote of the day
“I beat Russia’s favourite Ekaterina Serova by unanimous decision today. I am very happy with the way I boxed in my opening contest in Sofia. Up again tomorrow against Kosovo’s Albulena Gubetini for a place in the quarter-finals. Thanks for all the support, wishing my teammates the best of luck tomorrow,” said Christina Desmond of Ireland shortly after her amazing triumph over the top Russian boxer.
The second round of the preliminaries on Friday will be one of the longest competition days in the AIBA Youth World Championships in Sofia.