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The first stage of the Baku 2015 European Games quarter-finals was held today at the Crystal Hall 2, where each winner has now achieved at least a bronze medal in the prestigious tournament.

Bout of the day

Britain’s London 2012 Olympic Champion Nicola Adams and Bulgaria’s Stoyka Petrova have had a heated rivalry over the past few years.

Both boxers have enjoyed success over each other in recent tournaments, so their bout in Baku was packed full of extra spice.

Petrova enjoyed the best of the opening round as her pressure proved to be a real difference maker, but Adams asserted her control from the beginning of the second frame.

The entertaining bout contained much action and excitement, with Adams once again dominating the third round to earn a deserved victory, and a place in the semi-final.

Adams will now meet Elif Nur Coskun in the final four of the Women’s Flyweight class (51 kg) after the Turkish boxer surprisingly defeated Germany’s Ornella Wahner.

Team of the day

Poland have consistently produced successful women’s boxers, and two of their competitors enjoyed success on Day 7 in Baku.

Sandra Drabik is a very experienced technician, but had never really made a significant mark in major tournaments through her career.

That has all changed in the European Games however, and she continued an outstanding tournament with a victory over two-time AIBA Women’s World Championships competitor Yana Burym.

Her Belarussian opponent was a competitive rival in the opening two rounds, but the Polish boxer found the best fighting distance in the latter stages of the contest.

Lidia Fidura first joined the Polish national elite team in 2008 at the age of 18, and had a three year age advantage over Russia’s former AIBA Women’s Youth World Champion Iaroslava Iakushina in their quarter-final.

Despite her youth, Iakushina was the favourite of their bout, and began the first round with effective combinations.

Fidura was able to adapt to the pressure however, which led to dynamic attacks of her own that surprised her Russian opponent.

After an arduous fight for both boxers, Fidura’s hand was raised in victory, and she will now meet Sweden’s former AIBA Women’s World Champion Anna Laurell Nash in the semi-final.

Surprises of the day

Azerbaijan’s Salman Alizada was the number one seeded Light Flyweight (49 kg) boxer, but was surprisingly eliminated by Ireland’s Pavlyukov Youth Memorial Tournament winner teenager Brendan Irvine.

19-year-old Irvine is a very tactically astute boxer, who will next meet Ukraine’s EUBC European Youth Continental Champion Dmytro Zamotayev for a place in the final.

Meanwhile, Germany’s World Series of Boxing athlete Hamza Touba was not the favourite in his Flyweight (52 kg) battle with Russia’s Vasilii Vetkin, but pulled off an impressive win after using excellent jabs and movement.

Ones to watch

Netherlands’ current EUBC European Women’s Continental Champion Nouchka Fontijn arrived to the Baku 2015 European Games with a strict goal to win another important gold medal.

The 28-year-old Dutch boxer eliminated Britain’s AIBA Women’s World Champion Savannah Marshall in the preliminary round, and followed up that success with a strong win over Ukraine’s National Champion Kateryna Shambir.

Fontijn won all of the rounds in impressive style despite the constant aggression of Shambir, which qualifies her for the semi-final where she will meet Germany’s Sarah Scheurich.

Ukraine’s Oleksandr Khyzniak was a gold medallist at the 2012 AIBA Youth World Boxing Championships in Yerevan, and has since made a further name for himself in the World Series of Boxing.

The 20-year-old Ukrainian Light Heavyweight (81 kg) is through to the last four in Baku after beating Kosovo’s promising young hope Armend Xhoxhaj by split decision.

Khyzniak will want a more decisive performance in his next match, but has a tough semi-final in store against Italy’s Valentino Manfredonia.

Fact of the day

The following nations have all secured a guaranteed medal after the first day of the quarter-finals in Baku:

Russia: 5 guaranteed medals
Azerbaijan: 4 medals
Great Britain: 3 medals
Germany, Poland, Turkey, Ukraine: 2 medals
Belarus, France, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Sweden: 1 medal

Quotes of the day

“It is a shame this was not the final in the Baku 2015 European Games, but it will not affect me. I am Nicola Adams, the Olympic Champion and every boxer I take on, I will take on as though it is a final. I think my win today will boost the morale in the team,” said Britain’s Nicola Adams after her second triumph in Baku.

“The fight was tough as my opponent was quite strong. I got tired in the third round but found strength in myself and I believed I could win. My tactic was based on counter-attacks as that is the way I always fight. I have been training hard for the gold medal every day since March. I want to write my name in the history books and raise my flag,” commented Azerbaijan’s Elvin Mamishzada who eliminated Bulgaria’s young Daniel Asenov.

Tomorrow’s program

The second part of the quarter-finals will be held tomorrow with another 26 bouts scheduled in the Baku 2015 European Games.

(Lead photo courtesy of Baku 2015 European Games)