The Strandja Memorial Tournament is one of Bulgaria’s most prestigious boxing events, and holds a strong tradition on the European sporting calendar.
This particular instalment of the event was ideal preparation for the continent’s top athletes ahead of June’s European Games which are scheduled for Baku, Azerbaijan, while many Asian athletes also gained momentum ahead of a busy 2015.
Amidst many excellent individual performances, Uzbekistan claimed an incredible five golds in the tournament.
Athlete of the tournament
Bulgaria’s defending EUBC European Women’s Continental Champion Stoyka Petrova has been one of the best women’s Flyweight (52 kg) boxers in the world over the past two years, and lived up to her reputation with a gold medal.
Following her close semi-final triumph over US boxer Virginia Fuchs, she had to meet with China’s three-time AIBA Women’s World Champion Ren Cancan for the gold.
Petrova performed well against her technical rival, and controlled almost all of the rounds.
The eventual result was a unanimous decision victory for Petrova, but Cancan also proved she is still world class in Sofia.
Team of the tournament
The head coach of Uzbekistan sent his best line-up to Bulgaria, where five of their boxers claimed the gold medal, with three further silver medalists.
The average age of their five winners was just 21.2 years, which shows their great future potential.
Abdulla Kuchkarov won the Light Flyweight class (49 kg) in the last edition of the Uzbek National Championships in Almalik three months ago when he defeated strong WSB boxer Hasanboy Dusmatov in the final, and 19-year-old Kuchkarov added gold in Sofia after beating Israel’s David Alaverdian in the final.
Shakhobiddin Zoirov was the silver medallist in the Incheon 2014 Asian Games, and defeated England’s Jack Bateson to claim a gold.
AIBA Youth World Championships silver medallist Murodjon Akhmadaliyev moved up to the Bantamweight class (56 kg) last year, and this time he was strong enough to beat all of his rivals including Kazakhstan’s Zhanbolat Tilegenuly in Sofia.
Nanjing 2014 Youth Olympic Games winner and AIBA Youth World Champion Bektemir Melikuziev is perhaps Uzbekistan’s most exciting talent, and he displayed his potential with a comfortable win over Michael O’Reilly.
Uzbekistan’s fifth gold medal was delivered by AIBA World Championships quarter-finalist Rustam Tulaganov who defeated Ukraine’s Gevorg Manukyan in the final of the Heavyweight class (91 kg).
Surprise of the tournament
Finland’s three-time EU Championships bronze medallist Mira Potkonen is a veteran boxer, but caused a surprise against France’s Estelle Mossely in the semi-final of the Strandja Memorial Tournament.
After that excellent victory, Potkonen then shockingly defeated Bulgaria’s AIBA Women’s World Championships bronze medallist Svetlana Kamenova Staneva in the Lightweight (60 kg) final.
Ones to watch
Sweden’s AIBA Women’s Youth World Champion Agnes Alexiusson lost only two contests last year, and joined the elite age group this January.
The 19-year-old Swedish hope eliminated China’s Yang Wenlu in the semi-final and continued her winning path against Azerbaijan’s defending EUBC European Women’s Continental Champion Elena Vystropova in the final.
Stat/fact of the tournament
Eight men’s boxers from Uzbekistan advanced to the final of the Strandja Memorial Tournament which is record in the history of the competition.
Host nation Bulgaria secured four gold medals in the front of their home crowd, as Stoyka Petrova and Stanimira Petrova plus men’s boxers Simeon Chamov and Radoslav Pantaleev won their weight classes at the Universiade Hall.
List of the winners in Sofia
Women’s 51 kg: Stoyka Petrova, Bulgaria
Women’s 54 kg: Stanimira Petrova, Bulgaria
Women’s 60 kg: Mira Potkonen, Finland
Women’s 64 kg: Agnes Alexiusson, Sweden
Women’s 75 kg: Li Qian, China
Men’s 49 kg: Abdulla Kuchkarov, Uzbekistan
Men’s 52 kg: Shakhobiddin Zoirov, Uzbekistan
Men’s 56 kg: Murodjon Akhmadaliyev, Uzbekistan
Men’s 60 kg: Elvin Isayev, Azerbaijan
Men’s 64 kg: Lorenzo Sotomayor, Azerbaijan
Men’s 69 kg: Simeon Chamov, Bulgaria
Men’s 75 kg: Bektemir Melikuziev, Uzbekistan
Men’s 81 kg: Radoslav Pantaleev, Bulgaria
Men’s 91 kg: Rustam Tulaganov, Uzbekistan
Men’s +91 kg: Kamshybek Konkabayev, Kazakhstan