The eighth edition of the European Union Boxing Championships was concluded in the Bulgarian capital of Sofia, the same city that also hosted the AIBA Youth World Boxing Championships earlier this year.
Home nation Bulgaria along with Italy and Moldova were able to win two gold medals a piece at the event in which French sensation Christian M’Billi Assomo continued his stunning winning streak.
Bout of the day
Christian M’Billi Assomo is one of most rapidly developing boxers in Europe who made his breakthrough into the world of boxing only a year ago when he claimed the gold medal at the EUBC European Youth Continental Championships in Rotterdam where he defeated tough opponents from Ukraine and Russia en route to victory.
The French middleweight (75 kg) joined the elite level this January and following his performances domestically, he was selected to take part in several international events in a highly successful past few months.
M’Billi Assomo won the Gee Bee Tournament in Finland in April, the Chemistry Cup in Germany in May and the Liventsev Memorial Tournament in Belarus in June to enter the European Union Championships with an impressive track record.
The 19-year-old was finally able to realize his potential in Sofia where he spectacularly triumphed over Ireland’s EUBC European Youth Continental Championships silver medallist Michael O’Reilly in a thrilling final.
Team of the day
Six highly experienced Moldovan boxers got through to the semi-finals in Sofia of which two managed to battle their way through to claim a gold medal in what was an impressive display from the Eastern European country.
In the Flyweight (52 kg) class, EUBC European Continental Championships bronze medallist Alexandru Riscan claimed Moldova’s first gold medal in the event, triumphing over France’s Elie Konki by unanimous decision.
Fellow countryman Veaceslav Gojan, the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games bronze medallist and former EUBC European Continental Champion, was too strong for Hungary’s 19-year-old Viktor Galos in their semi-final.
In the gold medal match, Riscan cruised to the win against Finland’s tough former AIBA Youth World Championships bronze medallist Matti Koota, who was competing having recovered from a string of serious injuries.
Surprises of the day
Valentino Manfredonia won the last edition of the Italian National Championships at the very first attempt and was swiftly drafted into their elite squad. The 25-year-old light heavyweight (81 kg) claimed a silver medal at the Strandja Memorial Tournament in February but rather unexpectedly lost to New Zealand’s teenager David Nyika in the final of the Vllaznia Memorial Tournament in Albania.
The bout served as a wakeup call to Manfredonia who has appeared noticeably more focused since that contest.
The Italian boxer not only advanced to the final of the European Union Championships but he was able to beat Ireland’s EUBC European Continental Championships silver medallist Darren O’Neill, a late replacement for Joseph Ward in Sofia.
Igor Jakubowski, Poland’s Feliks Stamm Memorial Tournament winner, enjoyed a successful championships, defeating experienced Hungarian Jozsef Darmos, Austria’s Stefan Nikolic and Moldova’s Victor Ialimov on the road to his heavyweight (91 kg) class final in Sofia.
The 22-year-old Pole won surprised many in the final by winning his fourth meeting with Georgian hardman Levan Guledani.
At the final bell, it was Jakubowski who managed to record a unanimous decision victory over Guledani, who many saw as Georgia’s best hope for a medal, to record a career best win.
One to watch
Ireland’s European Union Champion David Oliver Joyce won his last event in preparation for the championships in Sofia, sealing victory in the Chemistry Cup in Germany.
The 27-year-old lightweight (60 kg) eliminated Lithuania’s Edgaras Skurdelis in the semi-final and he continued his winning streak in the final where he met Georgia’s EUBC European Youth Continental Championships silver medallist Otar Eranosyan.
Joyce, who trains in the St. Michael’s Athy BC, previously won the European Union Championships in 2008 and in 2009. The Irish boxer is focusing on the upcoming Rio 2016 Olympic Games which would be his first participation in a Games.
Stat/Fact of the day
Moldova claimed their first ever gold medals in the history of the European Union Championships in Sofia and their current elite team is one of the most promising on the continent.
Slovakia bagged four medals which is a record performance from their athletes.
List of the winners in Sofia
49 kg: Georgi Andonov, Bulgaria
52 kg: Alexandru Riscan, Moldova
56 kg: Veaceslav Gojan, Moldova
60 kg: David Oliver Joyce, Ireland
64 kg: Vincenzo Mangiacapre, Italy
69 kg: Simeon Chamov, Bulgaria
75 kg: Christian M’Billi Assomo, France
81 kg: Valentino Manfredonia, Italy
91 kg: Igor Jakubowski, Poland
+91 kg: Frazer Clarke, England