The 2015 EUBC European Confederation Boxing Championships began its first competition day in Samokov, Bulgaria on Friday, and the competition, which also doubles as a qualification event for the Doha 2015 AIBA World Boxing Championships, opened with great entertainment.

32 bouts thrilled the watching spectators on the opening day, as the winners of today’s Lightweight (60 kg), Light Welterweight (64 kg), Heavyweight (91 kg) and Super Heavyweight  (+91 kg) classes all advanced through to the Top 16 in Samokov.

Bout of the day

Ireland’s London 2012 Olympian Darren O’Neill has moved up two weight classes over the past three years, with the 30-year-old now competing at Heavyweight.

O’Neill’s first bout in Bulgaria was a supremely engaging clash with Lithuania’s European Union Championships bronze medallist Tadas Tamasauskas, who has produced great performances in the current Rio 2016 Olympic era.

The Lithuanian hope tried to keep the distance from the busy Irishman, but O’Neill’s speed and stamina allowed him to move in and out of range at will.

After three close rounds of intense action, the final verdict of their bout was a split decision victory for O’Neill who will next meet Russia’s AIBA World Boxing Championships silver medallist Evgeny Tishchenko.

Team of the day

Turkey enjoyed a wonderful opening day of the EUBC European Continental Championships, as four of their boxers progressed to the next round.

Yasin Yilmaz began Turkey’s day of success when he needed just 79 seconds to defeat Greek Lightweight Panagiotis Matsagkos.

2011 EUBC European Continental Champion Fatih Keles then dominated his bout with Estonia’s former European Junior Continental Championships bronze medallist Maksim Vilde.

Heavyweight Seyda Keser defeated Moldovan veteran Mihail Muntean in a ferocious contest, before Ali Eren Demirezen lived up to his potential with a remarkable victory against Armenia’s 21-year-old Rafayel Simonyan.

Surprise of the day

Georgia’s Levan Guledani was not the favourite against Croatia’s AIBA Pro Boxing star Marko Calic in the preliminary round of the Heavyweight class, but the Georgian earned a deserved triumph after a scintillating match.

The 29-year-old Guledani tried to control the opening round, while Calic turned up the heat in the second frame.

With everything to play for heading into the third and final round, it was Guledani who enjoyed the most success in the last three minutes and his hand was raised after the final bell had rang.

The Round-Up

Netherlands’ Tammer Tournament winner and Chemistry Cup gold medallist Enrico La Cruz arrived to Samokov as a Lightweight medal favourite, and the Dutch star opened his tournament with a victory over Serbia’s Vanja Bacic.

La Cruz’s teammate and Gee Bee Tournament winner Roy Korving then knocked out his Kosovan Heavyweight opponent  Pirro Quni in the middle of their bout.

Georgian Nyeki was born in Romania but has been fighting for Hungary since 2012, and is one to watch in Bulgaria after his win over Croatia’s Stipan Prtenjaca.

WSB star Guido Vianello has replaced Beijing 2008 Olympic Champion Roberto Cammarelle as the Italian Super Heavyweight representative, but soaked up the pressure by beating Poland’s AIBA Youth World Boxing Championships silver medallist Pawel Wierzbicki.

Vianello will now face Russia’s former EUBC European Continental Champion and London 2012 Olympian Magomed Omarov.

Fact of the day

220 boxers from 41 nations are competing in the EUBC European Confederation Continental Championships.

Quotes of the day

“The tactics was to let my Hungarian opponent come and walk onto the shots. I know it was not my best performance, but I managed to get the win which I am happy with. Galos was good, he has got quick hands and he is durable. I knew I had the bout under control so I am not really tired after my opening bout,” commented Great Britain’s Lightweight class (60 kg) favourite Joseph Cordina who eliminated Hungary’s Roland Galos.

“I had to work against my Serbian opponent from the longer distance while my tactic was keep calm. I could keep the range, but I know I have to do it better in the further parts of the European Championships. The Serbian was a good boxer, but I want more now. For the quota I must defeat better boxers but my preparation was successful. I am keeping my eyes on the next fight, step by step,” said Netherlands’ Enrico La Cruz following his opening triumph in the Lightweight class (60 kg).

“My speed was concentrated on in today’s bout and I was able to punch as soon as my Polish opponent was moving. I also focused on saving energy in order to be physically ready for the next matches. I am very satisfied because my opponent was really strong and had serious hooks. I know I have got the potential to win my next bout and the whole championships after my preparation over the past few months,” said Italy’s Guido Vianello who won his opening bout at the Super Heavyweight class (+91 kg).

Tomorrow’s program

Sixteen preliminary bouts are on the program for the second competition day in the EUBC European Confederation Continental Championships, where boxers of the Welterweight (69 kg) and Middleweight (75 kg) classes will be fighting to reach the Top 16 on Day 2.