Friday afternoon saw the final session of the 2016 AIBA Women’s World Championships in Astana’s Barys Arena, with a remarkable thirteen countries vying for gold medals. As the sun went down on a memorable competition, hosts Kazakhstan had won four titles, China two, and France, Great Britain, Italy, and the USA all took home gold.
The finals began with a physical encounter between home favourite and defending champion Nazym Kyzaibay and China’s Yuyan Wang. The Kazakh assumed an early dominance and refused to let the advantage slip, Kyzaibay’s unanimous points win setting the crowd alight with cheers that didn’t let up until the final medal had been presented.
“I am so happy that I won the gold medal today in Astana. I tried to display my best boxing in every bout, but I want to give huge thanks to all of the boxing fans who have supported me and the team throughout these championships,” said a delighted Nazym Kyzaibay afterwards.
After three World Championship silvers, Britain’s Nicola Adams’ determined pursuit of flyweight gold came to a successful finale in the Barys Arena, but she was made to work hard for it by Thailand’s tough Peamwilai Laopeam. After a patient opening, Adams began to find her range and a crisp right midway through the second round gave the Olympic champion extra confidence, eventually earning a split-decision win for the title.
“It feels amazing to have won the World Championships after three silvers. I felt nervous going in to the bout, but I use that as a positive energy and I needed that edge in a tough bout. Now I’m looking forward to the Olympics and defending my title in Rio,” said the new World Flyweight Champion Nicola Adams afterwards.
Bulgarian Stoyka Petrova had been in thrilling form in Astana all week but came up against the instinctive Dina Zholaman in a tight bantamweight final. Both boxers tried to get in close and with few clean-scoring punches, it was the Kazakh’s stamina that saw her through to a hard-earned gold.
Italian featherweight top-seed Alessia Mesiano fulfilled her pre-tournament promise with an exceptional run to the final, where she met India’s Sonia Lather. After a testing opening round, Mesiano grew to her task, taking the initiative in the crucial third round and having the stamina to take home the title.
Having defeated reigning champion Katie Taylor in her semi-final, Estelle Mossely’s world title bid was completed in style with a unanimous points win against Russia’s former World Champion Anastasiia Beliakova. Mossely had already secured a spot for the French team at the 2016 Olympics, and she sealed a superb campaign with an impressive gold.
China’s Wenlu Yang then halted Kellie Harrington’s bold bid for gold with a brilliant display of light welterweight boxing, taking it to her Irish opponent from the outset. Yang’s fast hands and speed around the ring proved decisive, earning the Chinese team their first gold of the championships.
At welterweight, Valentina Khalzova struggled to cope with the the tall figure of China’s Hong Gu, who dominated the early exchanges. Khalzova started to find more success as she worked her way in closer, and won the final rounds to earn a famous victory for the host nation.
US star Claressa Shields also gave away a few inches to her Dutch opponent Nouchka Fontijn, but the reigning champion closed down the distance brilliantly to prevent Fontijn landing many clean shots. A strong second round from Fontijn closed the gap, but Shields returned stronger than ever and powered through to her second World title.
The defending light heavyweight champion Xiaoli Yang was in typically dominant mood against Kaye Scott, as she denied the Australian team a first-ever World Championship gold. China’s Yang controlled the ring on the front foot and as Scott resorted to bodyshots, Yang took control and the gold medal.
Kazakhstan heavyweight Lazzat Kungeibayeva met Shadasia Green for the heavyweight gold, the American reaching the final in the first international tournament of her career. The atmosphere inside the Barys reached a crescendo as the two exchanged punches but Kungeibayeva responded well, winning the final two rounds to earn a unanimous points win and Kazakhstan’s fourth gold of the championships.