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Kharkiv’s Lokomotiv Sports Palace filled with atmosphere on the penultimate day of the EUBC European Championships, as twenty Semi-Finals across two top-class sessions of boxing decided the line-ups for Saturday’s gold-medal matches. With eight teams still in the hunt for golds, four boxers now stand just one bout from successfully defending their European titles: Russia’s Vasilii Egerov (49kg) and Evgeny Tishchenko (91kg), Bulgaria’s Daniel Asenov (52kg) and Ireland’s Joe Ward (81kg).

In the first of the day’s action, it was the quick hands of Light Flyweight (49kg) Vasilii Egorov that ensured he could maintain control of his bout against Belarusian Yauheni Karmilchyk, before two Rio 2016 Olympians with their sights on podium finishes in Hamburg, England’s Galal Yafai and Spain’s Samuel Carmona, delivered three high-tempo rounds that ended with Yafai progressing to the final with a split-decision win.

Peter McGrail looked back to his best form as the English Bantamweight (56kg) secured passage to the final of his first Elite event with a comprehensive win over Spaniard Jose Quiles, where he will meet Ukraine’s Mykola Butsenko. Some hard hitting saw a hard-earned win for Luke McCormack that leaves him one bout away from following up his EUBC U22 gold with the Elite Welterweight (69kg) title, but Armenia’s tough Hovhannes Bachkov now stands in his way.

Ukraine’s Oleksander Khyzniak delivered a gritty display to progress to the Middleweight (75kg) final against Azeri Kamran Shakhsuvarly, winner of an entertaining bout against Hunagrian Zoltan Harcsa, and Rio 2016 Olympic Champion Evgeny Tishchenko defeated France’s Paul Biongolo to set up an eagerly awaited Heavyweight final against England’s entertainer Cheavan Clarke.

Friday’s evening session got underway with English Flyweight (52kg) Niall Farrell progressing to the final of his first Elite Men’s competition with a unanimous win over Ireland’s Brendan Irvine, where he will now meet Bulgaria’s dynamic defending Champion Daniel Asenov for gold. An electrifying start to the Lightweight (60kg) semis saw Ukraine’s Iurii Shestak and England’s Calum French trading fast hands for three rounds, with the Ukrainian eventually edging the bout to set up a final against Russia’s Gabil Mamedov.

Pat McCormack, defeated in the final two years ago, looked focussed on going one better than his silver in 2015, overcoming Ukraine’s Ievgenni Barabanov in a tense Welterweight (69kg) bout. He will meet Germany’s Abass Baraou for gold on Saturday, while Joe Ward’s tight win meant he stays on course for a third EUBC title at Light Heavyweight (81kg), but faces a stern test in the form of Russian Muslim Gadzhimagomedov in the final.

The Super Heavyweights (+91kg) then wrapped up the Semi-Finals in style, the towering Frazer Clarke digging deep against France’s Djamil-Dini Aboudou Moindze to earn the split decision after a tight encounter. In the last bout of the day, Ukrainian Viktor Vykhryst rose to the occasion to hold off a stiff challenge from Russia’s Maxim Babanin and reach his first major Final.