At the end of an intense week-and-a-half of competition, ten boxers can now call themselves Youth World Champions after Saturday afternoon, emerging victorious from a field of over 400 athletes from 70 countries. The Sibur Arena in Saint Petersburg witnessed ten inspiring final bouts, and it was the new generation from the USA and Cuba teams who topped the medals table with two golds each. Eight countries tasted victory in all, with boxers from Australia, Japan and Scotland winning their countries’ first-ever titles in the competition.
New era for Asia as India and Japan triumphant
The fans were in good voice as the first of four Cuban finalists, Jorge Grinan, stepped into the ring against India’s Sachin Singh. After a cagey opening three minutes, it was Singh’s efficient jabs that made the difference and saw him successfully through to be crowned champion. “Indian boxing has been through changes and is ready for more success. This is a name you will see in four years’ time at Tokyo 2020,” said Sachin’s delighted team after the bout.
Japan’s Asian Youth Champion Hayato Tsutsumi made it two golds from two for his continent as he then out-boxed the Cuban Elio Crespo Santos on his way to a hard-earned Flyweight gold. “It would mean the world to represent Japan in Tokyo at the Olympics, but there is a lot of hard work to do first,” said Tsutsumi after the win.
Double gold delight for USA’s next generation
Kazakhstan’s Samatali Toltayev faced USA’s 2015 Junior World Champion Marc Castro for the Bantamweight title, and after both had struggled to find their rhythm early on, the American began to assert his dominance with some lightening combinations. “Kazakhstan always produces tricky fighters but I dug in and got what I came here for. It’s going to be a whole lot of hard work, but I’m looking to Tokyo 2020 and bringing home another gold for the USA,” said the Bantamweight Youth World Champion.
With little between the two after the first round of their Lightweight (60kg) Final, it wasn’t until the end of the second that the USA’s Delante Johnson began to find a way through Uzbek Bilolbek Mirzarakhimov’s defences, a tight judges’ decision eventually seeing the American victorious. “I want to thank my family and my team for their support. It feels great and this gold is for them,” Johnson said afterwards.
Kazakhstan and Turkey top the podium
The volume inside the Sibur Arena went up to eleven for the arrival of Russia’s Sergei Margarian, and a superb battle followed against Turkey’s Tugrulhan Erdemir. Both boxers enjoyed periods of dominance, but midway through the second round it was Erdemir who found another gear to deliver a gutsy display of close-range boxing and earn the title.
Kazakhstan’s Sadriddin Akhmedov then met the first of Ukraine’s two finalists, Pavlo Gula, for the Welterweight (69kg) title. Unbeaten in 2016, Akhmedov rarely looked anything less than a champion, a series of big rights in the second round draining his opponent and ultimately assuring him of the gold.
Scotland and Cuba convert golden opportunities
Scotland’s William Hutchison’s brilliant Youth World Championship campaign saw him reach the Middleweight (75kg) final against Bek Nurmaganbet of Kazakhstan. With the tie balanced going in to the final round, as both tired, it was Hutchison’s determination that made the difference, the judges’ decision cueing wild celebrations among the team. “I just can’t believe it, I’m World Champion, what else is there to say? What a tough tournament, what a feeling, what a moment,” said the thrilled Scot.
At Light Heavyweight (81kg), Cuba’s third finalist of the championships saw Osvary David Morrell find success against Ukraine’s Roman Savitskyi to earn the country’s first gold in Saint Petersburg.
Pero and Huni at home in Saint Petersburg
It was a relaxed-looking Dainier Pero who entered the ring to meet Russia’s Vladimir Uzunian for the Heavyweight gold, but it was Uzunian’s who repeatedly found the target in the first three minutes. Cuba’s 2015 Junior World Champion found his way back in during a fascinating second round, and a breathless finale saw him earn the tightest of split decisions. “It is a great feeling to be Junior and now Youth World Champion. Next I want to become the Men’s World Champion,” said Pero.
The Men’s Super-Heavyweights (+91kg) completed a spectacular afternoon of boxing in the Sibur Arena, and Georgian Giorgi Tchigladze and Australian Justis Huni lived up to the billing. Huni quickly got into his rhythm and dominated his opponent from the outset to earn the title. “That’s history for Australia, our first Youth World title. It was a hard tournament, but this feels great,” said the new Super Heavyweight champion.