The curtain came down on the 2017 edition of the EUBC European Boxing Championships with ten memorable finals in the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv on Saturday evening. The breadth of talent on the continent was again underlined as seven teams left with at least one gold medal and 25 nations qualified boxers to August’s AIBA World Championships in Hamburg. A packed Lokomotiv Sports Palace witnessed new talents rising to the occasion and reigning Champions defend their titles as the action unfolded across ten superb bouts.
The Light Flyweights (49kg) were first in the ring, and it was the 2015 Champion Vasilii Egorov of Russia who took the initiative early on in the opening bout against Galal Yafai. England’s talented 24-year-old looked composed as he occupied the centre of the ring but Egorov, ever dangerous, took his opportunities with the calculated efficiency of a man who had been here before, shutting out Yafai’s blows and edging a tight points win.
Bulgaria’s Daniel Asenov continued to underline his credentials as one of the best Flyweights (52kg) in the world against young talent Niall Farrell. The taller Englishman looked unruffled by the prospect of his first major final, but Asenov has been in electrifying form in 2017 and as he counter-attacked his way into a slender lead, the EUBC Under 22 Champion was able to hold off Farrell’s spirited challenge and earn the split decision.
Mykola Butsenko and Peter McGrail came out firing from the first bell of a breathless and entertaining Bantamweight (56kg) Final, the Englishman always looking to work the angles but given little room by the experienced Ukrainian. Both boxers let their hands go at every opportunity, but it was in the second round that McGrail really found his range and was able to carve out the crucial advantage that saw him go on to earn a split decision and EUBC gold.
A vintage final played out over three rounds at Lightweight (60kg), as Ukraine’s Iurii Shestak and Russia’s Gabil Mamedov embarked on an epic encounter in which the momentum swung from one corner to the other. Both boxers landed powerful blows late in the second, but Shestak kept his nerve in a tense third round and had enough left to keep Mamedov’s relentless attacks at bay and earn the win.
Armenian Light Welterweight (64kg) Hovhannes Bachkov had looked in great form on his way to the final, but in Luke McCormack met an EUBC Under 22 Champion with his eyes on the Elite title. McCormack pressed well in the first, straight jabs finding their target, but the compact Bachkov came back in the second to level the tie. As the bout reached a tense finale, it was the Armenian who landed the more eye-catching punches and was able to power through to gold.
German talent Abass Baraou had shone in his first EUBC Championships and came up against Pat McCormack in the Welterweight (69kg) final, the Englishman looking to go one better than his silver two years ago. Baraou showed no signs of pressure and looked to go on the offensive at every opportunity, stifling his opponent’s advances effectively. With the tie in the balance after two rounds, Baraou’s sheer determination won through in a gripping final three minutes to earn a superb gold.
Ukraine’s Oleksander Khyzniak had his opponent Kamran Shakhsuvarly on the ropes early on in their Middleweight (75kg) Final, and the more experienced Azeri was then counted twice before slowly finding his way back into the bout. Khyzniak refused to let up the pressure, forcing Shakhsuvarly into the corners with some quick combinations from where there were few scoring opportunities of his own to be found, and Khyzniak won a brilliant first European title.
Double Light Heavyweight (81kg) Champion Joe Ward used his trademark explosive bursts of aggression to quickly assume control of his bout against Muslim Gadzhimagomedov, but the Russian was never out of contention as he repeatedly tested Ward’s defences. By the start of the third, the Irishman’s lead was unassailable, however, and Ward eased to another European title looking every bit the triple-Champion.
Having followed his EUBC and World titles two years with Heavyweight (91kg) Olympic gold, Russia’s Evgeny Tishchenko once again appeared to be the man to beat in Kharkiv. England’s Cheavan Clarke had also set the Championships alight with his entertaining style, and having reached the final in his first major tournament, tried to neutralise his opponent’s reach by coming in close at every opportunity. The Russian patiently waited for the openings, however, and pounced when they came, securing a unanimous points win and continuing to assert his dominance of the weight category.
Viktor Vykhryst and Frazer Clarke’s Super Heavyweight Final then burst into life in the second round after a balanced opening period, the Ukrainian clicking into his rhythm and scoring freely before Clarke gathered his defences. By then the bout was out of his reach, however, and Vykhryst, never less than impressive in his first European Championships, pushed on to win the gold and seal a brilliant tournament in Kharkiv.
All results here.