Former AIBA World Champion Sergey Vodopyanov returned to his winning ways at the 20th Russian National Championships which was held in Ufa from April 22 – 30.
The 24-year-old boxer lost his quarter-final at last year’s European Championships in Moscow and claimed only a bronze medal at the last edition of the Russian National Championships. He won a silver medal at the Zlatko Hrbic Memorial Tournament in Zagreb after he was defeated by Hungary’s Krisztian Nagy.
Vodopyanov trained at full speed and regained his confidence before the important Nationals and reached the top step of the podium in Ufa after beating his biggest rivals such as former AIBA Youth World Champion Magomed Kurbanov in the quarter-final, reigning European Champion Eduard Abzalimov in the semi-final and for the gold he triumphed over defending champion Dmitriy Polyanskiy by a close 14:12 on their re-match.
Vodopyanov’s great victories in the bantamweight class were important for him in view of the upcoming AIBA World Championships, which will be the first Olympic Qualification event for the London 2012 Summer Games.
Light flyweight’s spearhead, Armenian-born AIBA World Championships silver medalist 27-year-old David Ayrapetyan, was crowned again in Ufa after beating his main rival Belik Galanov by a narrow 6:4, while teenagers Khamza Nametov and Valentin Chebochakov secured the bronze medals at the National Championships.
Reigning European Champion Misha Aloyan secured a bronze medal at the last AIBA World Championships but his target for this year’s event is gold. He took his first step towards this at the Russian National Championships, where he defeated veteran Georgiy Balakshin in the flyweight final, which will probably secure him a place on the national A team.
Former AIBA World Champion and defending European Champion, Dagestan-based Albert Selimov, won the lightweight division again while his main rival, two-time Olympic Champion Aleksey Tishchenko, missed this important event. Selimov lost to Ildar Vaganov at last year’s edition but on his re-match in Ufa he avenged his opponent and now has a good chance of taking part in the upcoming AIBA World Championships.
Aleksandr Solyannikov had the first chance to represent Russia in a major tournament last year at the European Championships where he got a bronze medal. The veteran athlete eliminated strong Aleksandr Ivanov in the semi-final and thrashed former European Junior Champion Maksim Ignatyev at the light welterweight final.
AIBA World Championships silver medalist Andrey Zamkovoy also found his way back to the gold medal like Vodopyanov. The strong welterweight boxer thrashed former National Champion Aleksandr Klinkov in the semi-final and triumphed over surprise boxer Islam Edisultanov by 18:8 in the final.
Former European Junior Champion 24-year-old Maksim Koptyakov could not compete in any major international event since 2008 when he took part in the European Championships in Liverpool. The middleweight boxer defeated strong Maksim Gazizov in their hectic semi-final and celebrated the gold after beating AIBA Youth World Championships bronze medalist Dmitriy Bivol. Defending European Champion Artem Chebotarev travelled back home with only a bronze from Ufa.
Defending AIBA World Champion and European Champion 26-year-old Yegor Mekhontsev is undefeated since 2008, so it was little surprise that he won the light heavyweight class in Ufa after defeating his main local rival, Nikita Ivanov, by 12:6.
Reigning AIBA World Champion Artur Beterbiyev moved up a weight class after the European Championships and was unexpectedly defeated by Pavel Nikitayev in the last edition of the National Championships. Beterbiyev hammered his rivals in Ufa and secured the gold medal, while defending champion Nikitayev was eliminated still in the preliminaries.
Sergey Kuzmin shocked Italy’s superstar Roberto Cammerelle at European Championships quarter-final last year and finally took the gold in front of the home crowd. The new Russian super heavyweight No.1 had some losses in international tournaments this year but despite this he took the gold in Ufa after beating strong Niyaz Fayzullin by 12:7.