It was the last day of the preliminaries at the AIBA European Olympic Qualifying Event in Trabzon, in the north east of Turkey, and taking to the ring were 64 boxers in four of the lightest divisions, from Light Fly to Lightweight. The boxing at the Hayri Gür Spor Salon, overlooking the scenic shores of the Black Sea, continued to delight the vast number of spectators who were out in force to lend their support to the athletes in their quests for qualification to the London 2012 Olympic Games.
The experienced 23-year-old Swede Salomo N'Tuve moved deeper into the competition following an impressive debut fight for him at this event. The tall Flyweight showed good composure to defeat Portugal's Pedro Cardoso12:7 and set-up a meeting in the quarter-finals with the fleet-footed Ukrainian Oleksandr Shepeliuk, who overcame the challenge of Milos Baltic from Serbia 15:10.
19-year-old rising star Stefan Ivanov from Bulgaria demonstrated his growing credentials with a calculating display against Albanian teenager Zajmi Taulant, which saw him prevail 18:9. Two World Series of Boxing (WSB) Paris United team mates then went head-to-head in a spectacular fight as 2007 AIBA World Boxing Championships bronze medallist and 2008 Beijing Olympian Nordine Oubaali from France faced the young Moldovan southpaw Alexandr Riscan. It was Oubaali who made his experience count with a quality performance that saw him triumph 19:8 and advance to the next round where he will battle Strandja Memorial Tournament winner Ivanov for an Olympic quota place.
Rafal Kaczor from Poland ensured his passage to the quarter-finals after a clinical display against Belarus' Dzmitry Stryhelski. Kaczor's sensational 23:12 victory will see him pit his wits against home favourite Selcuk Eker, who delighted the crowds with a comprehensive 23:9 win over Armenia's Danielyan Hovhannes.
Hungary's Norbert Kalucza was all smiles as he advanced to the next round of the competition, the 25-year-old 2008 Olympian outmanoeuvred the experience Spaniard Francisco Torrijos to win 21:13. Up next for the Hungarian Flyweight, a meeting with the impressive Georgian Severiane Chiladze, who defeated 2009 AIBA World Boxing Championships bronze medallist Ronny Beblik from Germany 16:13.
In the first Lightweight bout, it was heartbreak for Sweden's 24-year-old Redouane Kaya but delight for Georgia's Koba Pkhakadze as the latter was adjudged to have won the bout after the scores were drawn in each of the three rounds. The winner will now come up against the technically gifted Belarusian WSB sensation Vazgen Safaryants, after he dispatched of Bulgaria's Elian Dimitrov 16:12.
21-year-old Scot Josh Taylor dominated each round in his fight against Latvian Artjoms Ramlavs to win 14:4. Taylor will now meet Vladimir Sarukhanyan after the Armenian held off the challenge of Greece's 17-year-old Alexandros Tsanikidis to record a 16:12 victory.
Lithuania's AIBA Youth World Boxing Championships silver medallist is one to watch here in Trabzon after the 18-year-old fledgling showed great movement and skill to power past the experienced Serbian Tomas Vano and progress to the quarter-finals with a 13:8 win. Up next for this talented fighter, the hard-hitting Irishman David Joyce, who defeated Youth Olympic Champion Artur Bril from Germany in an enthralling contest that ended 22:14.
Gee Bee Tournament winner Samuel Maxwell kept up the great start by English boxers in this event after he overwhelmed Moldovan Piotr Apostol 20:10. There was a huge noise inside the stadium as Turkey's Fatih Keles and Elvin Isayev from Azerbaijan took to the ring in the final bout of the afternoon session. The boisterous crowd was jumping up and down in the stands as Keles excelled in the counter punching stakes and outpointed his rival to progress with a hard-earned 18:16 victory.
Kicking-off the bouts in the Light Flyweight category, Ferhat Pehlivan continued the strong Turkish performances on home soil with a sumptuous display against the 22-year-old Ukrainian Denys Shkarubo. Pehlivan moved into the quarter-finals after winning 24:7 and will now face the tough German European Youth Championships bronze medallist Hamza Touba who inflicted a 16:8 defeat on Azerbaijan's AIBA Youth World Champion Salman Alizada.
Romania's Stefan Caslarov ensured his presence in the next stage of the competition after outscoring his Belarusian rival Vadzim Kirylenka 13:9. Beijing Olympic Games bronze medallist and former European Champion Patrick Barnes was then ruthless against Istvan Ungvari from Hungary, coming out of the blocks firing from all angles as the referee was forced to stop the contest midway through the second round in favour of the irrepressible Irishman. Barnes and Caslarov will battle it out for one of the four Olympic quota places available in the division.
Chemistry Cup bronze medallist Manuel Cappai has been in great form in recent months and carries the hopes of his nation as the last remaining Italian in Trabzon. He boxed clever to triumph over Armenia's European Youth Champion Koryun Soghomonyan 13:10 and set-up a meeting with Poland's Beijing Olympian Lukasz Maszczyk in the next round. Maszczyk had completely overwhelmed his Georgian opponent to progress in the Light Flyweight category after the referee had stopped the bout in the third round when leading 16:6.
Moldova's Valeri Cirma was in blistering form in the opening exchanges of his bout, unleashing several telling combination punches that rocked the 19-year-old Estonian Kiril Serikov. Cirma, also a teenager, completely overawed his rival and the referee stopped the contest in the second round after Serikov took two standing counts. Cirma will face Bulgarian veteran Aleksander Aleksandrov who dispatched England's Charlie Edwards to win 17:12.
European Championships bronze medallist Razvan Andreiana joined his three teammates who advanced to the last eight in Trabzon after the Romanian Bantamweight dominated Poland's 19-year-old Mateusz Polski. The final score was a clear 17:9 to Andreiana who will now meet Georgia's Merab Turkadze, victor over Patrik Velky of the Czech Republic 18:4.
Germany's European Champion Denis Makarov was too strong for Slovakia's 18-year-old Michal Zatorsky, a silver medallist at the recent Bocskai Memorial Tournament, as he won 14:9. The German fighter will now meet Azerbaijan's former Russian National Champion Magomed Abdulhamidov in the quarter-finals after the Azeri WSB Baku Fires Bantamweight eliminated Hungary's Krisztian Bangy 13:9.
Moldova's European Champion and Beijing Olympic Games bronze medallist Veaceslav Gojan was unable to get past the impressive Ukrainian Pavlo Ishchenko, a former European Junior Champion. The 19-year-old Ukrainian, who won 17:7, set up a quarter-final meeting with Sweden's veteran European Championships bronze medallist Bashir Hassan who recorded a 10:7 victory versus Finland's Matti Koota.
Denis Ceylan of Denmark put in a polished display against France's Anthony Bret to win 12:10. The Dane will now battle Edgaras Skurdelis of Lithuania, who was rampant against Belarusian Sergey Kunitsyn to record a 20:8 victory, for a place in the semi-finals and an Olympic quota place.
80 of the best European fighters now remain in the competition following the end of the preliminaries. In total, boxers from 33 nations advanced to the quarter-finals where the host nation still has nine representatives, Hungary five, with Germany, France, Ireland, England, Romania and Georgia each with four boxers left.
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