As the entry list shows, this year’s Winner’s Tournament, which starts today in the Serbian capital Belgrade, will be the strongest ever.
The organizers accepted the participation of 64 boxers at the three-day long tournament but more than 100 boxers wanted to compete in Belgrade, so the local federation had to take into account the order in which applications were received.
Serbia’s new hopes will be taking part in the event as eight local fighters will have chance to continue the nation’s great boxing tradition in Belgrade. Former European Junior Champion middleweight Nikola Jovanovic, veteran light welterweight Ljubomir Marjanovic and Marko Nikolic are the greatest local favourites.
The youngest participant in the Serbian delegation will be flyweight Vanja Bacic, who is only 17 and will be the proud nation’s biggest hope at this year’s European Youth Championships, which will be held in Dublin in August.
Serbia’s best lightweight boxer, AIBA World Championships quarterfinalist 21-year-old Branimir Stankovic, is unable to take part in the Belgrade Winner Tournament since he is suspended until April 21 (the event starts on April 20).
Asia’s top boxing nation Kazakhstan is sending former National Champions such as welterweight star 21-year-old Manat Omirzakov, Grand Prix Usti nad Labem Tournament winner Samat Bashenov, Asian Youth Champion teenager Nurbol Kalzhanov and veteran super heavyweight Rustam Rygebayev.
Another strong Asian delegation will be sent from Uzbekistan, whose top fighter will be AIBA World Championships silver medalist and two-time Asian Games winner Elshod Rasulov, while Chemistry Cup winner heavyweight 19-year-old Mirzokhidjon Abdullayev is one of the greatest boxing prospects in the Central Asian country.
The powerful Indian contingent will consist of seven competitors, including Commonwealth Games gold medalist Paramjeet Samotha and Asian Games winner and AIBA Youth World Champion lightweight 19-year-old Vikas Krishan Yadav, who is India’s great hope for the London Olympic Games.
Mongolia took only one bronze medal at the 2010 Asian Games boxing event but the Central Asian nation’s boxing squad is even stronger than last year because reigning Olympic Champion Enkhbat Badar-Uugan and Asian Games silver medalist Enkhzorig Zorigtbaatar have since returned to the ring.
The seven-member Hungarian squad is also strong, with two-time AIBA World Championships bronze medalist Gyula Kate, Beijing Olympic Games quarterfinalist Imre Szello and European Championships bronze medalists such as lightweight Miklos Varga and Jozsef Darmos included in the team.
The Bulgarian team has been preparing for the upcoming major qualification events and two veteran flag-bearers will be competing in Belgrade, defending AIBA World Champion bantamweight Detelin Dalakliev and European Championships silver medalist Tervel Pulev.
Next to these top nations Algeria, Germany, F.Y.R. of Macedonia, Moldova, Scotland and Qatar will be taking part in the event. Qatar’s best boxers are preparing with full-speed for the upcoming Arabic Games which will be held in their capital, Doha.