The 63rd edition of the Strandja Memorial Tournament got underway in Sofia, the cultural capital city of Bulgaria, with the most anticipated fight of the first day a battle between reigning AIBA World Champion, 21-year-old Lazaro Alvarez of Cuba and Bulgaria's former AIBA World Champion, Detelin Dalakliev, the local fans' favourite to win. The Cuban Bantamweight star demonstrated formidable technique and fancy footwork to defeat his veteran European rival in style, 10:5.
South Korea's AIBA World Championship silver medallist and current Asian Champion, Shin Jong Hun, followed his recent tournament victory in Hungary with another win here. Once again speed was the deciding factor as Hun outclassed Bulgaria's European Championships bronze medalist Georgi Andonov. This Light Flyweight contest finished 13:7 to the 22-year-old Korean boxer, who advanced to the final eight.
Current European Champion and AIBA World Boxing Championship Baku 2011 silver medallist, Welshman Andrew Selby overawed Armenian newcomer, Beregham Harutyunyan, in the preliminary round of the Flyweight division, winning by a large margin of points. The 24-year-old Selby is one of the gold medal contenders at the Strandja Memorial Tournament as well as for the London 2012 Olympic Games this summer.
England's European Championship silver medallist and Commonwealth Champion, Iain Weaver suffered several unexpected losses last year and was unable to travel to Baku. Seeking a return to form, Weaver has stepped up his preparations in the run-up to the Olympics and has managed to reclaim his spot on the British squad. The 22-year-old Lightweight boxer looked hungry in Sofia as he triumphed over Georgia's AIBA World Championship bronze medallist, Koba Pkhakadze, 14:9.
20-year-old Avak Uzliyan caused a real upset when this rising Russian star eliminated 24-year-old former Cuban AIBA World Champion Roniel Iglesias in the Light Welterweight category. Uzliyan made everybody stand up and take notice after that performance.
New Cuban Welterweight No.1, Arisnoide Despaigne, who replaced Beijing Olympic Games silver medallist, Carlos Banteur, opened his account for the tournament with a victory. The young boxer defeated Russian National Championship silver medallist, Islam Edisultanov, by 16:13. Banteur will now meet the tough Welshman, current European Champion, 21-year-old Fred Evans, who secured his passage after a very close victory over Azerbaijan's Emil Maherramov.
In the women's event of the Strandja Memorial Tournament, England's current European Champion and two-time AIBA World Championship silver medallist, Nicola Adams, made a successful debut at the event. The Flyweight veteran triumphed over Bulgaria's EU Champion, Stoyka Petrova, in a narrow contest which ended with a 10:8 win for Adams.
Sweden's former AIBA World Champion, the experienced Anna Laurell, put on a quality performance in the Olympic Middleweight category against Minoan Cup winner, Tamara Fabiana Garcia, who was born in Argentina but has been fighting for Spain since 2009. The final score read a comfortable 16:3 win for Laurell, who in the process secured her place at the final eight.
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