After 265 electrifying bouts of boxing, Friday afternoon will see the final gold-medal matches of the 2016 Women’s World Championships, with thirteen teams still chasing gold. Among the twenty boxers left in the competition are Olympic champions Nicola Adams and Claressa Shields, while the Kazakhstan and China teams both have four finalists looking for glory.
First into the ring will be the light flyweights Yuyan Wang of China and Kazakhstan’s reigning World Champion Nazym Kyzaibay. Wang’s tricky path to the final included hard-earned wins over Philippines’ Josie Gabuco and American top-seed Marlen Esparza, while Kyzaibay beat Indian second seed Sarjubala Shamjetsabam in her semi-final on Thursday.
British flyweight Nicola Adams has been in determined mood from the start of the championships as she chases a first World Championship gold following three silver medals. The Olympic champion was made to work hard against Chinese Taipei’s Yu-Ting Lin in their semi-final, while her opponent, Thailand’s Peamwilai Laopeam, has been a revelation as first she reached the quarter-finals to claim a Rio 2016 quota place, before overcoming France’s Sarah Ourahmoune in the semis.
Bulgaria’s EUBC European Women’s Champion Stoyka Petrova has looked unstoppable at bantamweight so far, but she will face a tough opponent in the form of Kazakhstan 24-year-old Dina Zholaman. The second seed delivered one of the performances of the last round against China’s Piaopiao Liu, and will have the crowd firmly behind her as she pushes for glory.
Italy’s Alessia Mesiano has lived up to her featherweight top-seed billing in Astana, but she now faces India’s impressive Sonia Lather, who looked in commanding form against Kazakhstan’s Aizhan Khojabekova to reach the final. The lightweight competition has been gripping from the outset but burst into life on Thursday as Estelle Mossely narrowly outscored Ireland’s Katie Taylor and Russian Anastasiia Beliakova defeated Finland’s Mira Potkonen to set up what will surely be one of the finals of the day.
Ireland’s Kellie Harrington was again outstanding in her semi-final against Canadian Sara Kali, but the light welterweight will need to do even better if she is to overcome China’s Wenlu Yang and become only her country’s second-ever World title holder.
ASBC Asian Women’s Champion Hong Gu eliminated Finland’s new talent Elina Gustafsson and will now meet Kazakhstan’s young talent Valentina Khalzova for welterweight gold after her spectacular win against Germany’s Nadine Apetz. The middleweight bout between the USA’s reigning World, Olympic and Pan American Games champion Claressa Shields and Dutch European Games winner Nouchka Fontijn promises to be the match-up of the day, with both looking in superb form during their march to the final.
“Qualifying for Rio was our first goal, and now after the semi-finals we are closer to our second target. It is a great opportunity for me to box my American opponent and I have got nothing to lose. We have got the game plan against her ready and I am sure we will have a great contest in the gold medal bout,” said Netherlands’ Nouchka Fontijn ahead of the final.
In the penultimate match of the day, China’s Xiaoli Yang will defend her light heavyweight title against the impressive Kaye Scott, the first Australian ever to reach a Women’s World Championship final.
“I am ecstatic with my semi-final success, I can’t stop smiling. I knew my Turkish semi-final opponent was a good counter-boxer, so I had specific instructions from my coach to be patient and not to rush in with my attacks or lean forward over my front foot. I expect nothing in the final, only a hard fight against the Chinese titleholder. She can expect the same from me because I came here for the gold medal,” said Australian Kaye Scott.
The action concludes with the heavyweights, and US National Champion Shadasia Green, finalist in her first ever international event, facing Kazakhstan’s Lazzat Kungeibayeva, a silver medallist in Korea two years ago.