THE 40 boxers remaining in the AIBA World Championships spent the rest day focussing on final preparations for Thursday and Friday’s all-important semi-finals. Among the 20 nations left in the hunt for gold are boxers from Cameroon, Ireland, Colombia, Mongolia and Ecuador, while Cuba still feature in seven of the ten weight categories, both Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan in six.
LIGHT FLYWEIGHT (49kg)
The first boxer in the ring on Day Six, defending champion Johanys Argilagos, will know that he must be at his very best to overcome Yerzhan Zhomart, the Kazakh newcomer having impressed so far in Hamburg. The winner will no doubt watch on with interest as Hasanboy Dusmatov and Yuberjen Martinez then come together in a repeat of the Rio 2016 Olympic Final, the high point of the Uzbek’s brilliant unbeaten run since disappointment in Doha.
Russia’s Tamir Galanov has proven to be one of the surprise packages of a very open Flyweight competition in Hamburg, but he now faces Cuba’s Yosbany Veitia, a man looking determined to improve on his silver two years ago. Korean revelation Inkyu Kim faces resurgent Uzbek Jasurbek Latipov in the second Semi-Final on Friday.
The first of the Bantamweight semis on Thursday sees Kazakhstan’s Kairat Yeraliev, third in the ASBC Continentals earlier in the year, face England’s in-form EUBC Champion Peter McGrail who has clearly found the winning habit in Hamburg. India’s sole representative in the last four, Gaurav Bidhuri will then meet the first of the USA’s three boxers still in the title hunt, Duke Ragan.
The schedule for the second day of Semi-Finals includes Cuban Lightweight Lazaro Alvarez continuing his search for a remarkable fourth consecutive World title against Georgia’s close-quarter specialist Otar Eranosyan, before Otgondalai Dorjnyambuu flies the flag for Mongolia against Sofiane Oumiha, a key part of France’s superb Rio 2016 Olympic squad.
LIGHT WELTERWEIGHT (64kg)
Fifth into the ring on Thursday will be USA’s Freudis Rojas against Uzbek Ikboljon Kholdarov, the 19-year-old Las Vegas native who burst onto the national scene last year eager to continue his ascent through the elite ranks against another relative newcomer out to leave his mark. The winner will meet either Armenia’s resilient Hovhannes Bachkov or Cuban Andy Cruz Gomez for gold.
Cuba’s 2013 World Champion Roniel Iglesias has looked back in the kind of title-winning form that saw him also win Olympic gold at London 2012, and he will meet Germany’s EUBC silver medallist Abass Baraou on Friday. Uzbekistan’s Shakhram Giyasov lost to Iglesias in the WSB Play-Offs earlier in the year, and would love to overcome Kazakhstan’s Ablaikan Zhussupov and set up what could be a mouth-watering rematch for gold.
Kazakh newcomer Abilkhan Amankul meets Azerbaijan’s Kamran Shakhsuvarly in the first Middleweight bout of Day Six. The winner will go on to face whoever emerges victorious from an unmissable battle between Ukrainian powerhouse Oleksandr Khyzhniak, who impressed with his energetic and attacking flair in Kharkiv, and USA’s latest revelation Troy Isley.
LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHT (81kg)
Two monumental bouts are in store on Friday that will decide the 2017 Light Heavyweight finalists, with the virtuoso skills of Cuba’s other triple World Champion, Julio Cesar La Cruz, on display against Ecuador’s historic first medallist in the tournament, Carlos Mina. The winner will face either Ireland’s three-time EUBC Champion Joe Ward, beaten to gold by La Cruz in Doha, or Uzbekistan’s Bektemir Melikuziev, for the title.
With three of the top four seeds still in the hunt for gold, the Heavyweight competition is wide open, Russia’s Evgeny Tishchenko facing Uzbek newcomer Sanjar Tursunov in the first Semi-Final at the weight class. In Thursday’s final bout, Cuba’s imposing Felix Savon will be out to avenge the more compact but equally effective Kazakhstan number one and Olympic silver medallist Vassiliy Levit, winner of the pair’s Rio 2016 Semi-Final twelve months ago.
SUPER HEAVYWEIGHT (91&kg)
Cameroon’s Fokou Arsene is both the last African representative in Hamburg and the last remaining seed at super-heavyweight. As such, he will be hoping to once again seize the early initiative against Kazakhstan’s Kamshybek Kunkabayev and reach the gold-medal match. The winner will face either Australia’s Joe Goodall or Azeri Mahammadrasul Majidov, as the two big-hitters wrap-up the second Semi-Final day in style.