Twenty contests were held at the AIBA Asian Olympic Qualifying Event in Astana where the semi-finals took place on the sixth day of competition. The host nation's boxers really shined in front of their home fans with three out of four boxers advancing to the final stages of the tournament.
First it was Asian Games silver medallist and AIBA World Championships bronze medallist Birzhan Zhakypov who delighted the spectators as he made the final two in the Light Flyweight class. He met Uzbekistan's 19-year-old rising star Shakhobiddin Zoirov and after leading 7:3 after the first round he could further increased his advantage to triumph over his younger rival. He will now meet with Japan's President's Cup winner Naoya Inoue who eliminated Tajikistan's defending AIBA Junior World Champion 17-year-old Asror Vohidov. Zhakypov is now one win away from the London 2012 Olympic Games with only one quota place remaining in that weight category.
In the Flyweight division, all boxers who advanced to the semi-finals secured their quota places. Kazakhstan's 22-year-old Asian Championships silver medallist Ilyas Suleimenov advanced to the final after defeating DPR Korea's top boxer, southpaw Pak Jong Chol, to win 15:8. For the gold medal, Suleimenov will now face Mongolia's Tugstsogt Nyambayar, who has been world class throughout the competition.
The Light Welterweights semi-finalists had also ensured their presence at the Olympic Games but it did not stop Kazakhstan's No.1 Asian Games winner 21-year-old Daniyar Yeleussinov and Uzbekistan's Asian Games silver medallist Uktamjon Rahmonov putting on a sensational display in their encounter. The young Uzbek boxer had moved down a division just before the tournament and he has reaped the rewards for this switch. Yeleussinov was the victor in that match and his next opponent will now be Turkmenistan's Serdar Hudayberdiyev who won his bout against Medhi Touloutibandpi 16:9.
The fourth Kazakh boxer to take to the ring in the semi-finals was former Asian Champion and AIBA World Championships quarter-finalist Vassiliy Levit who had a great battle at Heavyweight with Syria's Asian Games winner Mohammad Ghossoun. The Syrian boxer was the harder puncher and despite receiving a warning in the second three minutes he went on to eliminate Levit. As a result Kazakhstan was not able to secure the maximum number of ten quotas for the Olympic Games. Ghossoun will now meet with Iran's former Asian Games winner veteran Ali Mazaheri in a winner takes all fight with only one quota in the division.
Indian Bantamweight No.1, 18-year-old Youth Olympic Games silver medallist Shiva Thapa continued his winning ways against Japan's Beijing Olympian Satoshi Shimizu. Thapa celebrated India's sixth Olympic quota place and will now be fighting Syria's Asian Games bronze medallist Wessam Salamana for the gold medal. The Arabic boxer became the first to get a quota place for his country.
Filipino World Series of Boxing star, two-time Southeast Asian Games winner Charlie Suarez met Japan's 22-year-old two-time National Champion Daisuke Narimatsu with a place in the final at stake. The Lightweight Suarez led 4:3 after from there grew in confidence to put on one his best performances so far in the competition. He advanced to the final after eliminating Narimatsu 24:11 and will now meet with China's veteran Liu Qiang in the single quota in the division.
China's current Welterweight Asian Champion and Beijing Olympian Maimaitituersun Qiong from the Xinjiang province shocked Iran's National Champion Amin Ghasemipour in their semi-final contest. The Chinese boxer advanced to the final and secured the fourth Olympic quota his country, his next opponent will be University World Champion Byamba Tuvshinbat, who achieved Mongolia's fourth Olympic quota.
Uzbekistan's two-time AIBA World Champion and Asian Champion Abbos Atoev can now prepare for his second participation at the Olympic Games after reaching the semi-finals. The Middleweight moved into the final after beating Tajikistan's 21-year-old Shopokov Memorial Tournament silver medallist Sobirjon Nazarov. Atoev's next opponent will be Turkmenistan's Youth Olympic Games bronze medallist Nursahat Pazziyev who surprisingly eliminated Indian national hero Vijender Singh.
Jordan's Arab Games winner Ihab Darweish Al-Matbouli was overpowered by India's 18-year-old Sumit Sangwan, a newcomer in his national squad. The tall teenager used his height to great effect as he achieved the seventh Olympic quota for India, a record for the country. He will meet Tajikistan favourite, Asian Games winner Jakhon Kurbanov for the gold medal.
In the Super Heavyweight class, China's Beijing Olympic Games silver medallist and AIBA World Boxing Championships bronze medallist Zhang Zhilei, a member of his national squad since 2001, outmanoeuvered Uzbekistan's newcomer Izzatulla Ergashev to progress. The Uzbek ringside abandoned the fight as Zhang led by large margin of points. The Chinese veteran will now meet Syria's Asian Championships silver medallist Sumar Ghossoun in the bout that will decide the last remaining Asian quota place.
Tomorrow marks the final day of the competition. We will then know the names all of those who have qualified for the London 2012 Olympic Games.
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