GB Boxers secured a remarkable haul of eight medals at the men’s European championships in Armenia with four of their boxers featuring in the finals on Monday (May 30).
The success of Great Britain’s boxers even saw squad-mates Harris Akbar, entering this event for England, and Wales’ Garan Croft contest the 71kgs final. It was a high quality match. They jabbed quickly, both moving in and out. Croft sent his right to the body but Akbar found the openings to send his cross down to the Welshman’s head. Akbar used his right well. In the second round a one-two set up his left hook. But Croft was always competitive and worked his left hook into the body. Akbar timed his straight shots well, ducking Croft’s whipping right hook at times. He came back well when the Welshman caught him and to close out the bout backed up cleverly to finish ahead of his rival, winning a unanimous decision.
In the semi-finals Harris Akbar secured a major victory over Ukraine’s Yurii Zakharieiev, the reigning World and European under 22 champion. It was all the more impressive as Akbar came back from losing the first round to wrest a split decision his way. It was special to Akbar personally too as he’d lost to Zakharieiev in the World championships himself. “I can’t put it into words. It feels surreal. To go in there and beat the World champion who beat me quite comfortably last year – what a feeling!” the Bradford boxer said. “Being able to avenge how I lost last time… It means the world to me.”
Croft had outpointed Germany’s Magomed Schachidov, also on a split decision, to book his showdown with Akbar in the final.
English middleweight Lewis Richardson met Ireland’s Gabriel Dossen in the gold medal match. The contest was in the balance. Dossen began the first round well, his handspeed apparent as he threw out jabs. Richardson came back strongly in the second round. A southpaw like Dossen, Richardson tracked forward aggressively, catching the Irishman with thumping backhands. Both fought wildly at times in the third but Dossen was determined, smacking his right hook across as time ticked down. Dossen edged him out on a close but unanimous decision.
In another all-British battle Richardson beat Scotland’s Sam Hickey in the 75kgs semi-final. Richardson took a split decision win in this clash of two GB squad-mates. Hickey will no doubt be hoping for rematch in the Commonwealth Games this summer but comes away from this championship with a bronze, Scotland’s first senior European medal in 16 years.
Sunderland Kiaran MacDonald impressed as he reached the final of the championship. In the preliminary stages he beat Scotland’s Lennon Mulligan and Ireland’s Sean Mari. Then he took a good semi-final win over Italy’s Federico Serra, coming back from a first round deficit himself to collect a split points verdict. But in the 51kgs final Martin Molina seized his opportunity. Much the smaller man, he still rushed forward to snap hooks into MacDonald. Kiaran got after him in the last round but could not stop a unanimous decision going to Molina. MacDonald therefore joins Richardson and Garan Croft as a European silver medallist.
Garan’s twin brother Ioan Croft secured a bronze medal, losing a unanimous decision in the 67kgs semi-final to Georgia’s Lasha Guruli.
In his second major championship rising super-heavyweight Delicious Orie won his first major medal after victories over Poland’s Oskar Safaryan and Turkey’s Berat Acar. He boxed strong German super-heavy Nelvie Tiafack and lost a unanimous but competitive decision.
At 92kgs England’s Lewis Williams also won a bronze medal, picking up two victories in Europe before Italy’s dynamic Aziz Mouhiidine unanimously outscored him in the final four.
Ireland’s Dylan Eagleson had a good tournament. He won the 54kgs silver medal, beating Bulgarian Daniel Asenov, a former European champion, in the semi-final. But France’s Bilal Bennama proved very tricky in the final, using his long reach to land his right on the southpaw before moving clear. He handed Eagleson a count in the second round and won a unanimous decision.
48: Ergyunal Sebahtin (Bulgaria) outpd Rickey Nesbitt (Ireland) unan. 51: Sean Mari (Ireland) outpd Omer Ametovic (Serbia) split, Kiaran MacDonald (England) outpd Lennon Mulligan (Scotland) split, Nodari Darbaudze (Georgia) outpd Jake Dodd (Wales) unan, MacDonald outpd Mari split, MacDonald outpd Federico Serra (Italy) split, Martin Molina (Spain) outpd MacDonald unan. 54: Matthew McHale (Scotland) outpd Gabor Virban (Hungary) unan, Dylan Eagleson (Ireland) outpd Muhammet Sacli (Turkey) unan, Manuel Cappai (Italy) outpd McHale split, Eagleson outpd Gabriel Escobar Mascunano (Spain) split, Eagleson outpd Daniel Asenov (Bulgaria) unan, Bilal Bennama (France) outpd Eagleson unan. 57: Vasile Usturoi (Belgium) outpd Adam Hession (Ireland) split, Nebil Ibrahim (Sweden) stpd Niall Farrell (England) 2nd. 60: John Paul Hale (Ireland) outpd Arslan Khataev (Finland) split, Artyush Gomtsyan (Georgia) outpd Hale split. 63.5: Joe Tyers (England) outpd Brandon McCarthy (Ireland) unan, Hovhannes Bachkov (Armenia) outpd Tyers unan, Reese Lynch (Scotland) outpd Adem Avci (Turkey) unan, Lounes Hamraoui (France) outpd Lynch unan. 67: Ioan Croft (Wales) outpd Delano James (Netherlands) unan, Tyler Jolly (Scotland) outpd Marko Zeljko (Croatia) unan, Vakhid Abbasov (Serbia) outpd Eugene McKeecer (Ireland) unan, Croft outpd Deniel Krotter (Germany) split, Vakhid Abbasov (Serbia) outpd Jolly split, Lasha Guruli (Georgia) outpd Croft unan. 71: Salvatore Cavallaro (Italy) outpd Stephen Newns (Scotland) split, Luke Maguire (Ireland) outpd Daniel Piotrowski (Poland) unan, Garan Croft (Wales) outpd Adam Messibah (Switzerland) split, Harris Akbar (England) outpd Tony Jas (Netherlands) unan, Eskerkhan Madiev (Georgia) outpd Maguire split, Croft outpd Alban Beqiri (Albania) unan, Akbar outpd Cavallaro unan, Croft outpd Necat Ekinci (Turkey) split, Akbar outpd Yurii Zakharieiev (Ukraine) split, Croft outpd Magomed Schachidov (Germany) split, Akbar outpd Croft unan. 75: Gabriel Dossen (Ireland) outpd Miguel Cuadrado (Spain) split, Dossen outpd Rami Kiwan (Bulgaria) unan, Sam Hickey (Scotland) outpd Robert Cservenka (Hungary) unan, Lewis Richardson (England) outpd Ivan Papakin (Ukraine) unan, Dossen outpd Mindaugas Gedminas (Norway) split, Hickey outpd Almir Memic (Serbia) split, Richardson outpd Kevin Schumann (Germany) unan, Dossen outpd Salvatore Cavallaro (Italy) split, Richardson outpd Hickey split, Dossen outpd Richardson unan. 80: Ivan Sapun (Ukraine) outpd George Crotty (England) unan, Taylor Bevan (Wales) outpd Liridon Nuha (Sweden) unan, Alfred Commey (Italy) outpd Bevan split. 92: Lewis Williams (England) outpd Mateusz Bereznicki (Poland) split, Vagkan Nanitzanian (Greece) stod Jack Marley (Ireland) 2nd, Williams outpd Sadam Magomedov (Serbia) unan, Aziz Mouhiidine (Italy) outpd Williams unan. 92&: Delicious Orie (England) outpd Oskar Safaryan (Poland) unan, Orie outpd Berat Acar (Turkey) unan, Nelvie Tiafack (Germany) outpd Orie unan.