The quarter-finals of the AIBA Youth World Boxing Championships took place today in Sofia, where the winners of the 52 contests secured a guaranteed medal in the event.
This has been a competition of high quality so far, and today was no different, with countless contests enthralling the viewing public, and the calibre can only get higher from here on in.
Croatia were the team of the day yesterday, and enjoyed another perfect day in Sofia, while the Italian ladies surprised their more favoured opponents on the eighth competition day.
Bout of the day
Sweden’s defending AIBA Youth World Champion and AIBA Junior World Champion Agnes Alexiusson has won all of her international events in recent years, and travelled for the gold medal in Sofia.
She met with the US hope Jajaira Gonzalez on Day 8, who won the gold medal at the AIBA Women’s Junior World Championships in Albena last September.
The Californian Gonzalez operated with quick attacks in the first round, in an attempt to cause discomfort for her taller opponent.
These tactics worked, as the 18-year-old Alexiusson struggled to adapt to the fight, with Gonzalez’s constant attacks consistently accurate.
The younger US boxer therefore eliminated the biggest gold medal contender of the Women’s Lightweight class (60 kg) in the championships.
Team of the day
Italy’s current AIBA Junior World Champion Irma Testa only began her boxing career in 2011, and has lost just two contests since her debut.
Her skills are obvious, but she had a tough contest on Day 8 against Russia’s top youth athlete, the EUBC European Junior Champion Ekaterina Paltceva, a far more experienced boxer than her Mediterranean rival.
Paltceva started boxing at the age of 10, but her experience counted for little against the Italian, who tested her defense several times with sharp jabs.
The Italian boxer used her reach effectively, and kept good distance in the fight, which resulted in a place in the semi-finals, and a guaranteed medal in Sofia.
Paltceva was the last Russian female hope in the championships, but she can continue the event in the box-offs tomorrow.
Italy’s second female underdog in Sofia was the European Union Women’s Youth Championships silver medallist Monica Floridia, who produced a great performance against Ireland’s defending AIBA Junior World Champion Ciara Ginty, who was named the Best AIBA Female Junior Boxer of the Year in 2013.
The Italian started the fight better than her star rival, with a highly motivated performance in their Lightweight class (60 kg) bout.
Ginty performed better in the third round, but it was Floridia’s hand that was raised with a split decision victory, resulting in the second medal for the Italian ladies in Sofia.
AIBA Road to Sofia boxer of the day
Cuba’s Pavlyukov Youth Memorial Tournament silver medallist Yordan Alain Hernandez has had a brilliant tournament so far, eliminating his top Uzbek and Russian rivals.
He continued his great progress with a dominating performance against Ireland’s Michael Gallagher in their Heavyweight class (91 kg) contest.
The Cuban boxer used his height well against the Irish boxer, who could not reduce the fighting distance, ensuring the AIBA Road to Sofia Program member won all of the rounds in the contest.
Surprises of the day
Armenia’s Anush Grigoryan had previously competed only once at international level before her arrival in Sofia.
The 17-year-old Flyweight class (51 kg) boxer bagged a silver medal at the AIBA Women’s Junior World Championships last year, but her opponent in the quarter-finals here was Great Britain’s EUBC European Junior Champion Crystal Barker, a far more experienced opponent.
Barker had been in great form in Sofia, eliminating some potential medal favourites in the tournament, but could not repeat her previous performances on the eighth competition day.
Grigoryan proved victorious in the contest, triumphing over her more experienced opponent.
Cuba’s current AIBA Junior World Champion and multiple National Junior Games winner Alayn Limonta Boudet had an unexpected loss at the Pavlyukov Youth Memorial Tournament in Russia, but had been back to his fearsome best in Sofia.
The 17-year-old Cuban looked tired after the opening round against Japan’s ASBC Asian Youth Continental Championships bronze medallist Go Hosaka, and the Japanese sensation continued to impress, using his better physical condition to eliminate Limonta and causing one of the biggest surprises of the quarter-finals.
Ones to watch
Poland’s AIBA Youth World Championships silver medallist, and EUBC European Junior Champion Elzbieta Wojcik is a very sure-footed woman boxer who has developed as a boxer in recent months.
Her second opponent in the competition was Ireland’s AIBA Women’s Youth World Championships silver medallist Christina Desmond.
Wojcik controlled the contest, and and proved she is a gold medal contender of the Middleweight class (75 kg) in Sofia.
US star Shakur Stevenson is an AIBA Junior World Champion, and began boxing at the age of 5.
He travelled as a top favourite for gold in Sofia, and has confirmed those expectations by advancing to the semi-finals, beating Brazil’s lone survivor, the South American Youth Games winner Carlos Rafael Santos Silva at the Flyweight class (52 kg).
The US star proved his skills once again, with world class boxing on show, and received the right to fight at the Nanjing 2014 Youth Olympics with his victory.
Russia’s Dmitriy Nesterov is their current Youth National Champion at the male Middleweight class (75 kg), and was looking to become Russia’s second medalist of the tournament.
He did not have an easy contest against Australia’s defending AIBA Junior World Champion Satali Tevi Fuimaono, who was previously undefeated at international level.
Following Nesterov’s strong start in the opening round, the Austalian boxer took over the lead and fought in his own style utilising successful tactics.
Nesterov responded well however, and had an excellent final round to finish their top level bout strongly.
His triumph saw him advance to the semi-finals, the second Russian to do so after Bibert Tumenov.
Stat of the day
Twenty six nations have secured at least a bronze medal in the female and male part of the AIBA Youth World Championships in Sofia.
Kazakhstan have bagged five podium places, while America, Ukraine and Uzbekistan have four medallists.
Quote of the day
“I feel great myself especially after a feeling a bit flat in my opening bout in the qualification tournament in Sofia. My tactic was to make my opponent (France’s Davina Michel) miss and make her pay, and to simply out box her and keep a good defence after all of my quick attacks. I am just proud to represent Australia and make my family happy when I will be back home. I hope to perform just as well in my next bout for the place in the final on Wednesday,” said Australia’s Brandenburg Youth Cup winner Caitlin Parker following her triumph over France’s strong Davina Michel in the quarter-final of the Women’s Middleweight class (75 kg).
For the first time in history, an AIBA championships box-offs is scheduled for the ninth competition day tomorrow. The losers of today’s quarter-finals are disappointed, but all of them have another chance to qualify for the Nanjing 2014 Youth Olympics.