The preliminary rounds of the AIBA European Olympic Qualificatiers in Samsun came to an end on Tuesday, leaving the continent’s top 24 women and 80 men chasing their Olympic quota places, with the British team still represented at all ten men’s weight classes.
Day Four saw 48 matches held over two sessions, with the Men’s Bantamweight (56kg), Lightweight (60kg), Welterweight (69kg), Middleweight (75kg), Light Heavyweight (81kg) and Heavyweight (91kg) boxers all pushing hard for a place in the quarter-finals.
The French 2015 European Games runner up Sofiane Oumiha comfortably overcame Germany’s tough Robert Harutyunyan in the day’s opening bout, before another favourite for an Olympic quota place at lightweight, Irish APB boxer David Joyce, edged past Georgia’s Otar Eranosyan in one of the day’s key contests.
Joyce’s teammate and number-one middleweight seed Michael O’Reilly sustained a shoulder injury in his first round against Ilari Kujala, giving the Finnish international debutant a surprise route into the quarters and leaving O’Reilly with one last shot at an Olympic place in Baku in June.
“I am satisfied with my performance and our tactics worked well against a world-class opponent. Each round was close, but I worked hard enough to get the decision and I was able to maintain the same level throughout the contest,” said a delighted Kujala afterwards.
French European Union Champion Christian Mbilli Assomo also progressed to the next round with a big win over Spain’s Damian Biacho, before German APB star Xhek Paskali turned around his bout to edge through against Dutchman Max Van der Pas.
In the light heavyweight category, the Netherlands’ double EUBC European Confederation silver medallist Peter Mullenberg took every round against Estonia’s Ainar Karlson, and will now face Norway’s newly crowned Nordic and National Champion Surkho Shamilov, who booked his place in the last eight with a controlled performance against Switzerland’s Uke Smajli.
“I won the Nordic Championships in Sweden two weeks ago but today’s bout was more important. My Swiss opponent was technically a good boxer and physically strong, but I had more clean hits in each round. Counter-attacks worked well against him today and they proved the difference. I think I controlled the whole match well but tomorrow my performance must be better against my tough Dutch rival,” said Surkho Shamilov after his contest.
Azerbaijan’s London 2012 Olympic Games bronze medallist Teymur Mammadov eventually came through a testing opening against Russian National Champion Georgii Kushitashvili, and Germany’s Chemistry Cup champion and APB star Serge Michel continued his winning streak against Albania’s Syrja Marinaj.
Denmark’s number one Frederik Lundgaard Jensen proved too strong for Serbian Dositej Todorovski in their bantamweight contest, before Turkey’s APB hope Ibrahim Gokcek defeated tough rival Romania’s Razvan Andreiana in their key bout, to the delight of the home fans.
Portugal’s sole representative in Samsun, Paulo Bernardes, advanced to the welterweight quarter-finals after beating Denmark’s Mikkel Nielsen in a hectic encounter, and in the pick of the day’s match-ups, Italy’s Vincenzo Mangiacapre overcame Hungary’s former EUBC European Champion Balazs Bacskai.
Following in the footsteps of teammates Qais Ashfaq, Joseph Cordina, Cyrus Pattinson and Joshua Buatsi, British squad newcomer Lawrence Okolie made his way into the quarter-finals with a narrow victory over Dutch heavyweight Roy Korving, ensuring Great Britain’s men are represented in the last eight at every weight.