Day 6 of the Baku 2015 European Games featured many of the best matches of the tournament so far, as 35 excellent bouts took place at the Crystal Hall 2.
Bout of the day
Ireland’s Katie Taylor is one of the most successful boxers on the planet, yet had a tough match in store in her opening Baku bout against the last woman to defeat her in the squared circle.
It was 2011 when she lost to Bulgaria’s Denitsa Eliseeva, but the Taylor of 2015 is a completely different proposition, and she dominated her battle against the 34-year-old veteran.
Taylor was faster, offered better work rate and beat her opponent to the punch throughout their Lightweight class (60 kg) battle.
After her entertaining unanimous decision victory, the Games Ambassador will next meet Sweden’s former AIBA Women’s Junior World Champion Ida Lundblad.
Team of the day
Katie Taylor’s success was something of a catalyst for Ireland, as all of their competing boxers on Day 6 advanced through to the quarter-final stages.
Firstly, 21-year-old Light Welterweight (64 kg) Dean Walsh produced a tremendous display of resilience to defeat Russia’s Maxim Dadashev.
The Russian boxer knocked down Walsh in the opening round, but the talented Irish star turned back the battle using strong jabs and clever shots.
European Union Championships silver medallist Michael O’Reilly is one of the most promising boxers in the Irish team, and arrived in Baku as a potential medalist in the Middleweight class (75 kg).
O’Reilly faced a tough contest against the tall Emir Sabotic, but worked well to achieve an impressive win.
Ireland’s fourth victory on Day 6 was achieved by London 2012 Olympian Darren O’Neill who outscored Latvia’s Raitis Sinkevics in their Heavyweight (91 kg) bout.
Surprises of the day
Italy’s Salvatore Cavallaro made his name with a bronze medal at the 2011 AIBA Junior World Boxing Championships, and the Italian Middleweight (75 kg) boxer enjoyed a great win in Baku over Britain’s AIBA World Boxing Championships bronze medallist Anthony Fowler.
The British fighter was the top seeded Middleweight, but Cavallaro’s footwork enabled an effective counter-attacking style which resulted in triumph for the Italian.
France’s EU Champion Christian Mbilli Assomo-Hallier was another medal favourite at Middleweight, yet suffered his first defeat in over 18 months against Azerbaijan’s Xaybula Musalov.
Welterweight (69 kg) Josh Kelly is a much heralded British prospect, and he lived up to his potential with a strong win over former EUBC European Continental Champion Mahamed Nurudzinau in Baku.
Kelly surprised his veteran opponent in the first round with successful attacks, which translated into a spirited split decision victory.
Ones to watch
Azerbaijan’s AIBA Women’s World Championships silver medallist Yana Alekseevna met with Finland’s Mira Potkonen in the first preliminary round of the Women’s Lightweight class (60 kg), and secured a valuable victory over the Finnish number one.
The host nation’s pride will now meet Russia’s AIBA Women’s World Champion Zinaida Dobrynina in the quarter-final.
Italy’s Vincenzo Mangiacapre claimed bronze medals at the London 2012 Olympic Games, and the 2011 AIBA World Boxing Championships, and the Italian Light Welterweight (64 kg) is seeking a prestigious gold in Baku.
Mangiacapre’s win over Turkey’s Nanjing 2014 Youth Olympian Adem Furkan Avci was a clinical affair, and he can now prepare to meet France’s Hassan Amzile.
Fact of the day
Hosts Azerbaijan and Russia are the most successful nations after the preliminary stage have finished, and the following countries all have at least one boxer in the quarter-final.
Azerbaijan, Russia: 13 remaining boxers
Germany : 11 boxers
Ireland : 9 boxers
Italy, Turkey : 8 boxers
Belarus, France, Poland, Ukraine : 6 boxers
Bulgaria, Great Britain : 5 boxers
Hungary : 4 boxers
Sweden : 3 boxers
Denmark, Netherlands : 2 boxers
Armenia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Croatia, Georgia, Israel, Kosovo, Lithuania, Moldova, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Switzerland : 1 boxer
Quotes of the day
“I have been over here for two and a half weeks, so I was itching to get in there today. I knew it would be a tough fight because I have boxed her so many times before. She is such a top-rank boxer, and a great warrior. I knew I was going to be blowing at some stage in the fight but it was a great performance so I am delighted. The first fight is always hard, just to get the ball rolling. You will see in the next fight, I will be a lot sharper. I think I am hungrier now than I ever was, and I want to leave a great legacy behind me,” said Ireland’s Katie Taylor.
“I am very happy with my today’s performance, and I felt my tactics worked as we had planned before the contest. My Turkish opponent was very tough, and I had to give my absolute best to come out as the winner of the bout. Since I have been working with my new coach Patrick Bogere, I have trained more effectively than before, and it is really nice to see that it has paid off in Baku,” commented Sweden’s Ida Lundblad who defeated Turkey’s Gamze Basar in the Women’s Lightweight class (60 kg).
As the enjoyable preliminary bouts have finished, the important quarter-finals will begin on Day 7 of the Baku 2015 European Games.
(Lead photo courtesy of Baku 2015 European Games)