Following four days of preliminaries at the Doha 2015 AIBA World Boxing Championships, Saturday’s exhilarating first round of quarter-finals offered some mouth-watering bouts with world boxing’s superstars in action
DOHA, 10 OCTOBER 2015: Boxing fans flocked to the Ali Bin Hamad Al Attiyah Arena in Doha today to witness the excitement on show as world boxing’s signature event edges closer to its climax. With an array of colorful flags in the stands ranging from Mongolia in the far east to Cuba in the far west, the atmosphere was incredible as the first few elite boxers walked out in front the watchful eye of boxing superstar Amir Kahn.
For Yousuf Ali Al Kazim, President of the Qatar Boxing Federation and Executive Director of the LOC in association with Qatar Olympic Committee, it was a proud moment:
“This was our vision when bidding to host these historic World Championships. We wanted Doha 2015 to be a celebration of the boxing sport, and gather local communities to support their heroes. I think it’s fair to say that we have succeeded, and that Qatar has made boxing come alive across the region. With Amir Kahn’s visit we have also inspired athletes and fans alike, and we can’t wait for the continuation of the finals stage in the coming days.”
Rogen Ladon of the Philippines was the first pugilist to enter the ring, where he faced the Polish light flyweight champion Dawid Jagodzinski. After three intense rounds, the Filipino favorite was able to secure his place in the semi-finals by winning on unanimous decision – a new personal best for the 21-year-old who is competing in the World Championships for the first time.
“I am extremely happy to be through. I may be young, but in my country this doesn’t matter at all. It’s all about how strong you are in the ring. The next match will be a lot tougher, so I’ll go and work with my coach on my weaknesses. My dream is to compete in the Olympics [Rio 2016], and by working hard I’m sure I can get there,” Ladon said.
For Team Qatar the competition is now over, in what has been a fairytale adventure for coach Juan Carlos Gonzalez’ troops. Hakan Ersaker was the last remaining boxer in the competition, a historic feat in its own right, but was unable to overcome India’s aggressive Shiva Tapa in the bantam category.
The other Indian boxer battling to advance in the competition today was the middle weight boxer Krishan Vikas, who met Egypt’s champion Hosam Abdin. From the start it was clear that it could go only way, with the reigning African champion dominating throughout. In the last round Abdin was dancing in circles against his tiring opponent, and found himself in tears of joy as the unanimous win was announced on the loudspeakers.
“Thank you to everyone for supporting me, thank you to all the Egyptians living in Qatar for being here today, and thank you Allah for helping to win against a very strong opponent. My dream is to make my people happy by winning the world title, and it feels amazing to be one step closer to making that dream come true,” Abdin said.
Another North-African in action today was Mohammed Flissi of Algeria, silver medalist from the last World Championships. The lightning quick boxer has come to Doha to do one better this time, and on his quest for gold in the flyweight category he faced Costa Rica’s David Jimenez Rodriguez.
It was the perfect, crunching first bout to open the evening session, as Flissi confirmed that he remains on track for the world title with a narrow 2:1 win. In the busy mixed zone afterwards, he was relieved to progress to the semi-finals:
“I’m extremely happy to get through. I want to do my country proud, and I’ve come here for gold. I need to continue to work hard, stay focused, and God willing, it’ll all go well.”
Amir Kahn, meanwhile, showed remarkable interest for the action unravelling before him on this busy Saturday of elite boxing. He stayed ringside throughout both sessions, and even found time to give his flyweight countryman Muhammad Ali some advice in the dressing-room before his bout against Azerbaijan’s Elvin Mamishzada.
While Ali failed to overcome his formidable opponent, reigning world champion Lazaro Alvarez lived up to his feared reputation and bulldozed his way through to the semi-finals in the lightweight category. Winning on unanimous decision, Ukraine’s Temyr Beliak was left outgunned as Alvarez maintains his menacing form:
“Being in the semi-finals is massive, but it’s something that you must earn only through hard work and discipline. Hearing the Cuban support inside these walls really spurred me on, and gave me great motivation. Now I want to go for gold!” Alvarez said.
A bit later in the evening, the vocal Kazakhstan faithful came out in numbers to watch their idol Daniyar Yeleussinov take on the promising Filipino welterweight boxer Eumir Marcial. The reigning world champion had to be on top of his game to clinch a spot in the semi-finals, edging out his opponent by unanimous decision.
“It was a tough match, but I feel strong. I was pleased with the performance and I’m looking forward to the semi-final. For me it’s all about taking one bout at a time,” Yeleussinov said as he reinforced his favorite status for the word title.
Another reigning world champion cruising towards the semi-finals stage was Julio La Cruz. The Cuban light heavyweight champion had no trouble eviscerating Sep Hrvoje from Croatia, and left the ring a confident man after the one-sided encounter ending 3:0.
“I haven’t reached my target yet, my goal is to win the competition. That’s the only thing I’m worried about. I must thank the Cuban fans for supporting me, it was great and really helped me,” La Cruz said.
In the super heavyweight category, there were four giants all battling to be one bout away from a final spot. In ring A, Kazakhstan’s Ivan Dychko defeated Florian Schulz from Germany, while across the room, Britain’s reigning European Games gold medalist and odds-on favorite for the world title had little trouble overcoming the hard-hitting Ali Demirezen from Turkey.
Speaking after his unanimous victory, Joyce was already looking ahead:
“I feel ready and relaxed. I have a couple of days off to recover and then I can see what I need to work on and look at my next opponents’ weaknesses and strengths. But I can feel that the level has gone up now – it’s like a video game like Street Fighter – the further you go on the harder it gets, and you have to be prepared for that. I am a veteran now and I have the experience to handle this and put in some good performances to go all the way.”
Sunday will be another high-octane day of elite boxing at the Ali Bin Hamad Al Attiyah Arena, with another set of quarter-finals starting from 3pm.
For more information, please see www.boxing2015.qa. Tickets can be purchased online at virgintickets.qa, in Virgin Megastores in Villaggio and Landmark Malls, as well as the Ali Bin Hamad Al Attiyah Arena throughout the World Championships.
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