The popular Czech tournament, Usti nad Labem, held annually, saw 68 male and 35 female athletes from 19 nations competed in the 43rd edition of this traditional Grand Prix. It was a festival for boxing purists as Austria, Belarus, Bulgaria, Cuba, Czech Republic, England, Greece, Hungary, India, Italy, Moldova, Mongolia, Netherlands, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Spain, Switzerland and Turkey all battled it out in one of Europe's best tournaments. The venue was packed for finals day as the spectators were treated to some sensational bouts between world class fighters.
Italy's London Olympian Vittorio Parrinello caused a major upset in the quarter-finals when he eliminated Cuba's AIBA World Champion Lazaro Alvarez and the 29-year-old Italian Bantamweight continued his incredible form with a magnificent victory over Youth Olympic Games silver medallist Shiva Thapa of India. Parrinello outmanoeuvred his opponent to win 10:7 in the final.
Cuba's AIBA World Championships silver medallist and Panamerican Games winner Yasnier Toledo triumphed over his top rival, England's former European Youth Champion Martin Ward 11:9 in the quarter-finals before receiving a walk-over for the gold with Slovakia's Tomas Vano unable to take to the ring. Toledo had overwhelmed Javkhlan Bariaddii from Mongolia 17:10 in the semis and overall will have been delighted to finish top of the podium at the Grand Prix, which was his first active preparation event for the London 2012 Olympic Games.
Cuba's former AIBA World Champion and Beijing Olympic Games bronze medallist Roniel Iglesias suffered unexpected losses at both the AIBA World Championships and at the Strandja Memorial Tournament. He returned to form in Usti nad Labem as he defeated Czech Republic's multiple Grand Prix winner Zdenek Chladek 18:9 in the Light Welterweight final.
National Champion Arisnoide Despaigne, a newcomer to the Cuban national squad, enjoyed a great victory over India's AIBA World Championships bronze medallist Vikas Krishan Yadav in the semi-finals before outclassing Moldova's London Olympian Vasilie Belous 10:7 to take the gold medal. This was a first international tournament win for Despaigne, the future surely looks bright for this Welterweight.
Former AIBA Cadet World Champion Anthony Ogogo finally found his way back to form as the English Middleweight boxer eliminated both Serbia's London Olympian Aleksandar Drenovak and Austria's Arbi Tschakajew to claim the gold medal.
Cuban team captain, AIBA World Champion Julio Cesar de la Cruz secured a fourth gold medal for the Caribbean nation after beating Lithuania's Daugirdas Semiotas 20:9 in the Light Heavyweight final. Semiotas will have been pleased with his second place finish after the tough training program he went through during Road to London earlier this month.
London Olympian Jose Angel Larduet increased Cuba's haul of gold medals to five after getting the walk-over in the Heavyweight final against Hungary's Jozsef Darmos.
AIBA Youth World Champion, 22-year-old Erislandy Savon, also already qualified for the London 2012 Olympic Games, had been in sensational form throughout this tournament and once again demonstrated that this is going to be a big year for this nephew of boxing legend Felix Savon. Russia's Denis Latypov, his opponent in the Super Heavyweight final, just had no response to the barrage of shots from the Cuban sensation as Savon showcased all his skills to triumph 21:5. This victory ensured the Cuban squad left the Czech Republic with six gold medals in total.
In the women's draw, where all three Olympic weight categories were disputed, the crowd in Usti nad Labem first witnessed England's European Champion and two-time AIBA Women's World Championships silver medallist Nicola Adams secure a Flyweight gold medal by defeating her top rival, Russia's AIBA World Champion Yelena Savelyeva, in a closely fought contest that ended 9:8.
Russia's two-time AIBA World Champion Sofya Ochigava then cruised to victory as she defeated Switzerland's best female boxer, Sandra Bruegger 17:3 in Lightweight category.
Russia's current AIBA World Champion and European Championships gold medallist Nadezhda Torlopova eliminated two-time AIBA World Champion Maria Kovacs of Hungary in the preliminary round before taking top spot as she punished Bulgaria's EU Champion veteran Desislava Lazarova 19:5 in the final.
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