A succession of top quality bouts demonstrated the excitement and skill of boxing on the third competition day of the AIBA Youth World Championships in Sofia. Five weight classes were in action, including the winners of two female weight classes advancing to the round of 16.
On a day of much success, it was the Swedish team who particularly impressed, with both their female and male boxers in great form, amassing a perfect three wins from three bouts on day 3.
Bout of the day
Italy’s defending AIBA Junior World Champion Irma Testa only began her boxing career in 2011, and since then has just two defeats on her record.
The Italian boxer met with AIBA Women’s Youth World Championships silver medallist and EUBC European Junior Champion Hanna Okhota in her first bout of the competition, which turned out to be one of the best fights to have taken place so far in Sofia.
Testa towered over her Ukrainian opponent, and used her height and reach effectively. Okhota tried her best to reduce the fighting distance, and opened the fight well, but Testa began to nullify her as the fight progressed, with the Italian’s size proving to be a difference maker.
The Ukrainian boxer began to tire in the last minutes of the contest, though she tried valiantly to win until the very end, ultimately losing via split decision.
Team of the day
Sweden’s defending AIBA Women’s Youth World Champion and EUBC European Junior Champion Agnes Alexiusson is used to success, having won all of her major tournaments over the past three years, and is strongly tipped for gold in Sofia.
Alexiusson is a clever boxer, and quickly dominated from the start of her clash against South Africa’s Youth National Champion Julienne Smith, finding and exploiting defensive holes from the outset.
She was on a different level to her South African opponent, and won the bout easily. The Swedish sensation is perhaps the biggest threat in the Lightweight class (60 kg) at this tournament.
The males also proved successful for Sweden, with the highly regarded Brandenburg Youth Cup winner Oliver Flodin another medal contender in Sofia.
The 18-year-old Welterweight class (69 kg) boxer was more effective and stronger than his Austrian opponent Edin Avdic, and his efforts resulted in a clear unanimous decision victory. His next step in Sofia is a potential bout of the day clash against Georgia’s EUBC European Junior Champion Giorgi Kharabadze.
The head coach of the Swedish national team Santiago Nieva decided to select only two male boxers in these championships, but both are quality athletes and medal hopes.
Aluje Araik Ismail began boxing in 2008, and his experience proved valuable against Greece’s Alexandros Ntesmont Farrell, who was fighting in his first ever competition outside of Greece.
Ismail lived up to the pre-match expectations of victory, dominated the contest and advancing to the next stage of the championships, ensuring a perfect day for Sweden was complete.
AIBA Road to Sofia boxers of the day
Moldova’s current youth team is perhaps their strongest ever in the history of the Eastern European country.
AIBA Junior World Championships silver medallist and EUBC European Junior Champion Vladislav Tugui has been in excellent form over a long period, having achieved at least silver in all of his major competitions since 2011.
With high medal expectations in Sofia, the 17-year-old Light Welterweight class (64 kg) boxer’s southpaw style and amazing footwork was too much for Denmark’s Mohammad Abdallah in their preliminary bout.
The Moldovan boxer shook off the pressure of being a favourite for gold, and even managed to reserve some energy for the latter rounds with a comfortable victory.
Syria’s Ahmad Ghossoun is from a fighting family, as his elder brothers are also members of their national team. The Syrian Light Welterweight class (64 kg) boxer was a silver medallist at the ASBC Asian Youth Continental Championships in Bangkok in January, where he put together some impressive performances.
Ghossoun met with New Zealand’s relatively unknown Frank Hardy on the third competition day, and performed well, utilising his combinations, and teaming them with lightning quick footwork.
The Kiwi boxer could not find an answer to the accuracy and speed, ensuring Ghossoun’s win via unanimous decision.
Surprise of the day
Vietnam’s two-time Junior National Champion Dang Anh Thinh trains in the port of Haiphong, and arrived in Sofia with little international experience.
Despite this, he impressed in his bout against Moldova’s 188cm tall Vladislav Gumeniuc, a bronze medallist at the 2011 EUBC European Schoolboys National Championships.
Dang reduced the distance well, and controlled the first two rounds in their Welterweight class (69 kg) bout.
The rangy European Gumeniuc had a strong final round, but it was not enough for victory, ensuring a surprise win for the Vietnamese boxer.
Ones to watch
Russia’s AIBA Women’s Junior World Championships silver medallist Ekaterina Paltceva is one of the favourites to claim gold in the Flyweight class (51 kg) in Sofia, but she opened her campaign against a strong opponent in Thailand’s Youth National Champion Thanthip Wannaphrom.
Thailand’s head coach is the respected Omar Malagon, and he gave his boxer good tactics, which ensured a competitive, though not winning opening round for Wannaphrom.
Paltceva began to take control as the fight progressed, taking the second round convincingly, and finishing strongly in the third to complete a high quality bout.
Kazakhstan’s defending ASBC Asian Youth Continental Champion and winner of the Children of Asia Games Ayan Kalibekov is a definite gold medal contender in the Light Welterweight class (64 kg).
Many experienced boxers face relatively novice opponents in the early stages of competition, but Kalibekov’s opponent was Ireland’s EUBC European Junior Championships competitor Wayne Kelly, who had a similar level of experience as Kalibekov.
Despite that, Kazakhstan’s Kalibekov was too strong for his Irish opponent, and the route to gold is still on.
Quote of the day
“I felt myself pretty good but I was almost too relaxed and I know I have to raise my speed in the next stage of the championships. I hope I will be able to put pressure to my upcoming Georgian opponent and I will be more focused than today. I am always better after my opening bout. I like the atmosphere and the arena of the AIBA Youth World Championships here in Sofia,” said Sweden’s Oliver Flodin following the triumph over his Austrian rival.
Eighteen female and forty-one male contests are scheduled for the next competition day, where places for the last 16 will be up for grabs in Sofia. The Flyweight class (52 kg) return to the program after Day 1 in the men’s part of the championships, while the Heavyweight (91 kg) and Super Heavyweight class (+91 kg) boxers will be making their debut in the AIBA Youth World Championships on Day 4.