One of the much anticipated Asian tournaments got underway this week with over 150 boxers descending on Aktau, on the Eastern shores of the Caspian Sea, to dispute the highly regarded Shokhr Boltekuly Tournament. All the boxing powerhouses were there to compete for medals, with Azerbaijan, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Russia, Ukraine and Uzbekistan all sending some of their top talent.
On the opening day of competition, Kyrgyzstan's 21-year-old Flyweight (52kg) Azat Usenaliyev, a member of his national squad since 2009, triumphed over Kazakhstan's Aydarbek Zhadigerov 25:4 to comfortably advance to the quarter-final stages. Kazakhstan's Liventsev Memorial Tournament silver medallist Nurgazy Zhusupov defeated Uzbekistan's Asian Championships bronze medallist Alisher Mahmudov 10:6 to also move into the last eight of the Flyweight category.
Kyrgyzstan's Asian Championships quarter-finalist, 23-year-old Meder Mamakeyev was too good for Kazak newcomer Nikolay Karsanov and won their contest by a large margin of points in the Bantamweight (56kg) category where Azerbaijan's multiple-National Champion Rahim Najafov triumphed over Kazakhstan's Sapargali Togyzbayev 23:11.
Makar Mazay Memorial Tournament winner Bekman Soilybayev showcased his growing credentials with a 11:9 victory over Azerbaijan's 19-year-old Youth Olympic Games silver medallist and AIBA World Championships competitor Elvin Isayev at Lightweight (60kg).
World Combat Games winner and Asian Games quarter-finalist Ermek Sakenov continued Kyrgyzstan's winning streak in Aktau where he triumphed over boxer Aydar Sharibayev 12:9. His biggest rival should now be Kazakhstan's Beijing Olympian Merey Akshalov, who stopped Russia's Said Musayev and also advanced to the quarter-final stage of the event.
17-year-old AIBA Junior World Championships silver medallist Israil Madrimov, who is competing in his first ever elite tournament, got his career off to a fine start as the Uzbek teenager battled back to defeat Kazakhstan's Aslan Shymbergenov 14:13.
Kazakhstan's National Championships silver medallist, 24-year-old Bakhytzhan Kozhabekov, who has fought in over 200 contests in his career, managed to get the upper hand over Kyrgyzstan's current National Champion and Ordos Boxing Tournament bronze medallist Azamat Kanybek Ulu to move into the next round of the competition. 22-year-old Rustam Svayev moved up a weight class and opened his Middleweight (75kg) account with a classy 15:9 win of his Kazak compatriot Ulykbek Kiyazov from Taraz.
Xinjiang-based 23-year-old Chinese Maimati Zaipula, who competed at the 2010 Asian Games in Guangzhou, stopped Kyrgyzstan's Emil Abyshkayev as he begins his assault of the Light Heavyweight (81kg) podium. Kazakhstan's 17-year-old Youth National Championships silver medallist Tilek Kozbakov shrugged off his lack of experience to eliminate local boxer Mukhammed Masakbayev with a 11:9 victory at Heavyweight (91kg).
In the quarter-finals, Azerbaijan's 24-year-old Beijing Olympian Samir Mammadov defeated Kyrgyzstan's Shopokov Memorial Tournament winner Meder Mamakeyev on count-back to move into the Bantamweight (56kg) semis.
Veteran Adilet Kapezov, who represented Kazakhstan at the 2009 AIBA World Championships in Milan, beat Azerbaijan's Sarkhan Babayev 18:4. The 27-year-old Light Flyweight (46-49kg) will now meet 19-year-old Erzhan Zhomart of Kazakhstan in the semi-finals. Kyrgyzstan's 21-year-old Shopokov Memorial Tournament winner Azat Usenaliyev continued his winning ways after the Kyrgyz Flyweight (52kg) No.1 defeated Kazakhstan's Laszlo Papp Memorial Tournament winner Nurzhan Koshanov 20:15.
Kazakhstan's new Lightweight (60kg) hope, Bekman Soilybayev, who won various international tournament this year, proved again that he is one to watch after overpowering Uzbekistan's 18-year-old Elnur Abdurakhimov, who is still preparing for the upcoming AIBA Youth World Championships. The final verdict of the contest was 20:7 to the Kazakh boxer.
The host nation's Beijing Olympian 24-year-old Merey Akshalov used up all of his previous WSB experiences to beat his compatriot Almaz Tleubergenov of Karaganda while Kyrgyzstan's Ermek Sakenov also advanced to the semi-final of the light welterweight class after beating Kazakhstan's Sabit Tolepbergenov.
China's defending Asian Champion and two-time Olympian 24-year-old Maimaitituersun Qiong has got the best footwork in the welterweight class and he proved it in Aktau as well. Hi opponent in the quarter-final, Kazakhstan's Raiymbek Zhastalolov's ringside abandoned the unequal fight and the Chinese star will now meet Kazakhstan's Suleyman Berdukayev in the semi-final.
Kazakhstan's strong Yerik Alzhanov triumphed over Azerbaijan's Elchin Zeynalov by 14:10 and will now meet China's Ershat Anvar in the last four while Uzbekistan's rising star Bekzod Yuldashev and Kazakhstan's top favourite Asian Championships silver medallist Rustam Svayev also advanced to the semi-final of the middleweight class.
Uzbekistan's newcomer in the national team Zukhiddin Mahkamov secured at least a bronze medal in Aktau following his deserved victory over China's National Championships bronze medallist Chen Yunfa and will now meet Kazakhstan's experienced Dauren Yeleussinov who is member of the national squad since 2006.
Kazakhstan's future heavyweight star Tammer Tournament winner 21-year-old Aleksey Sevostyanov eliminated his teammate Kenzhe Amanzholov and will now meet China's Asian Games competitor Maimaiti Zaipula in the semi-final. Kazakhstan's Asian Champion and Asian Games silver medallist Vasiliy Levit of Astana moved up into the super heavyweight division where he defeated China's Xinjiang-based Abulaiti Abudusemaiti by 17:7 in the quarter-final. His next opponent will be a compatriot, Rakhman Alzhanov.
The semi-finals promise to be even more spectacular as the fighters battle it for continental supremacy.
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