Featherweight Erdenebat too good for Walker at AIBA Men's World Championships

Asian featherweight champion Tsendbaatar Erdenebat of Mongolia defeated European gold medallist Kurt Walker of Ireland here at the International Boxing Association (AIBA) World Championships.

In the battle of the best featherweights of Asia and Europe, Tsendbaatar came out the unanimous winner. 

He will now face Mirazizbek Mirzkhalilov of Uzbekistan, who overcame the defending champion, Kairat Yeraliyev of Kazakhstan.

Yeraliyev was under-par throughout the fight, with the referee stopping the contest and handing Mirzkhalilov the victory. 

Lazaro Álvarez of Cuba, the division's top seed, will feature in the other featherweight semi-final.

The three-time world and Pan American Games champion got past Russia's Albert Batyrgaziev 4-1 to silence the partisan crowd. 

Álvarez will fight Commonwealth champion Peter McGrail of England, who unanimously defeated Kavinder Singh Bisht of India. 

England's European and Commonwealth champion Pat McCormack edged past Sewonrets Okazawa of Japan 3-2 to reach the welterweight semi-final ©Yekaterinburg 2019
England's European and Commonwealth champion Pat McCormack edged past Sewonrets Okazawa of Japan 3-2 to reach the welterweight semi-final ©Yekaterinburg 2019

But Roniel Iglesias was unable to emulate the performance of his fellow Cuban in the welterweight division. 

The top seed crashed out to Russia's Andrei Zamkovoi 4-1. 

Kazakhstan's Ablaikhan Zhussupov recorded a unanimous win against Germany's Nick Bier to set up a clash with the home favourite. 

Asian Games gold medallist Bobo-Usmon Baturov of Uzbekistan dominated against Zeyad Eashash of Jordan 5-0, while England's European and Commonwealth champion Pat McCormack edged past Sewonrets Okazawa of Japan 3-2.

Baturov and McCormack will battle it out for a place in the final.

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Cuba debuts and sweeps at World Boxing Championship

The Cuban boxing armada started off the World Boxing Championship, in Ekaterinburg, Russia, at a good pace. Yosbany Veitía, Arlen López and Andy Cruz sealed their first victories against inferior rivals.

Veitía, in the 52 kilograms, opened the triumphant path for the Island, although he had a tougher time than expected against Algerian Mohamed Flissi, double world medalist in Almaty 2013 (silver) and Doha 2015 (bronze).

The boxer from Sancti Spíritus was not as fiery as usual, he had a hard time warming up and, although he won with a tight 3-2, he expressed his dissatisfaction in statements offered to the JIT digital site.

“I didn’t feel well in this first fight, I was out of distance and didn’t throw enough punches. Maybe the days of inactivity affected me. The important thing is that I won and we will see what happens next,” said Veitía, world champion two years ago in Hamburg.

More comfortable were the smiles of Arlen López (75) and Andy Cruz (63), who took the unanimous vote of the judges against Algerian Younes Nemouchi and Belgian Ibrahima Diallo, respectively.

According to colleague Roberto Ramírez’s reports, Arlen relied on his work with his right hand and struck at close range with effective hooks, a task that allowed him to take advantage and move to the next step.

“It was a good fight. I was able to fulfill the plan drawn up by the coaches during the three rounds. It’s a good experience to start recovering things that I’m still missing,” said the boxer from Guantánamo, who will be fighting in the next bout against Dominican left-hander Euri Cedeño, his victim in the quarterfinals of the last Pan American Games in Lima.

The icing on the cake for Cuba was given by Andy Cruz, probably today’s best fighter in the Antillean squad. The boxer from Matanzas gave no room for doubt in front of the Belgian Diallo, who could hardly cope with the varied and powerful arsenal of the Cuban.

“He is a pretty spiky rival. I dedicated myself in the first assault to study him to see what I could do. I worked hard on my defense, on my speed, and I realized that I could achieve it; then I went out to challenge him,” said Cruz, who hopes to win his coming commitments.

“You have to think fight by fight, not focus on just one rival, because they are all tough, and adapt to the characteristics of each opponent,” added Cruz.

Cuba will continue its pace in the World Championship this Sunday, when three other world champs will climb into the ring: Lázaro Álvarez (57), Erislandy Savón (91) and Julio César La Cruz (81).

Álvarez will clash against Ecuadorian Jean Caicedo, Savón with Georgian Nikoloz Begadze and La Cruz will close Cuba’s day against Algerian Mohamed Houmri.

After these three fights, only Roniel Iglesias, scheduled to go to the ring on Monday against the Chinese Qiong Mai, would remain to debut.

Cuba has seven boxers in the World Championship, after super-heavyweight José Ángel Larduet left the Caribbean team in Germany, where they had a small training base before traveling to Yekaterinburg.

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Will the World Championships provide AIBA with the positive headlines it is desperate for?

Boxers are currently congregating here in the Russian city of Yekaterinburg, located just over 1,000 miles east of Moscow, for an ultimate showdown.

They will battle it out over eight weight categories for the next two weeks, fighting for the honour of being named the best male boxer in the world. Such an achievement which would be a career-high for many.

As the athletes warm up to compete, the 12-day event will almost come as a relief to the International Boxing Association (AIBA). The governing body seem permanently stuck in a state of crisis, creating headline after headline with little sign of respite.

AIBA still lack a permanent leader after the controversial Gafur Rakhimov formally resigned last month. To add to the confusion, Morocco’s Mohamed Moustahsane confirmed he will remain as Interim President until March, having withdrawn his initial resignation last week.

The crisis has of course impacted on the World Championships, with Rakhimov’s resignation coming just a month after the International Olympic Committee suspended recognition of AIBA, stripping the organisation of its involvement in the boxing competition at Tokyo 2020.

The World Championships will subsequently no longer offer places at the Olympic Games as it has done so in the past. A series of qualifying tournaments have been organised for next year instead.

Despite this, boxers at the Yekaterningburg-Expo still have a world title to fight for and competition will be just as intense. With the spotlight finally on the sport itself, the World Championships may give AIBA an opportunity to put its current political soap opera on pause.

Cuba's Julio César La Cruz Peraza is seeking his fifth world title in Yekaterinburg, having recently triumphed at the Lima 2019 Pan American Games ©Getty Images
Cuba's Julio César La Cruz Peraza is seeking his fifth world title in Yekaterinburg, having recently triumphed at the Lima 2019 Pan American Games ©Getty Images

A record number of athletes are set to compete, with just under 500 athletes from 89 countries registered for the event. Most boxers will be returning to defend their title, while Olympic champions are also expected to feature.

Boasting both accolades and captaining the Cuban delegation is 30-year-old Julio César La Cruz Peraza, who has dominated the 81-kilogram category since the 2011 World Championships in Baku. Despite already earning four world titles and an Olympic gold at Rio 2016, La Cruz has shown no sign of letting up, claiming his third Pan American Games crown in Lima last month.

As always in boxing, the Cuban team is strong. La Cruz is joined in Yekaterinburg by three compatriots also looking to retain their titles: Yosvany Veitía will compete in the 52kg, with Andy Cruz Gómez back in the 64kg and Erislandy Savón battling in the 91kg.

The delegation will be hoping to replicate Cuba's success in 2017, when the country topped the medal table with five gold medals and two silver.

Uzbekistan finished second at that competition with one gold, three silvers and two bronze, although a number of these medallists, including a number of Rio 2016 Olympic champions, have since become professional. 

However, Uzbekistan's reigning 49kg Olympic champion, Hasanboy Dusmatov, may have the chance to upgrade from the silver medal he received at the 2017 World Championships in Hamburg. Cuba’s Joahnys Argilagos, the gold medallist on that day, has since defected from his country and turned professional.

The 75kg category is also expected to go undefended after the Boxing Federation of Ukraine announced last month that they would not send an official delegation to Yekaterinburg. Subsequently, Oleksandr Khyzhniak will give up his place on top of the podium in the event.

Nine boxers will represent the host nation, although Russia have lost their 91kg Olympic champion, Evgeny Tishchenko, to a professional career. Their hopes may instead lie with Muslim Gadzhimagomedov, recent gold medallist in the same weight category at the European Games in Minsk.

Yekaterinburg is aiming to develop a strong sporting identity, hosting a number of events after the World Boxing Championships ©Youtube
Yekaterinburg is aiming to develop a strong sporting identity, hosting a number of events after the World Boxing Championships ©Youtube

Indeed, organisers will hope for Russian success to crown a maiden visit from the World Championships to the country. The competition has only previously been held in the Soviet Union, taking place in Moscow in 1989.

Yekaterinburg itself makes for an intriguing location, having replaced Sochi as the host city in January. The history graduate in me was intrigued to discover that the city is home to the golden-domed Church on the Blood, execution site of Russia’s ill-fated royal family, the Romanovs. 

Alongside playing a significant role in Russian history, however, the city is also on its way to creating a strong sporting identity.

After the World Boxing Championships, Yekaterinburg will first welcome a number of teams for the International Volleyball Federation Men’s World Championship in 2022, before hosting the 2023 Summer Universiade. Surely these events will be used as a springboard for what seems to be a vibrant and modern city. 

Despite the ensuing political drama in the background, the AIBA World Boxing Championships have been set up to be an exciting affair in a dynamic location, complete with defending champions and emerging talent alike. 

Athletes may have some task ensuring that the action in the ring is as sensational as what is taking place outside of it, but the competition has the potential of taking some of the pressure off boxing's embattled governing body. 

Members will have their fingers crossed that events in Yekaterinburg go swimmingly, with the governing desperate for a positive headline for once.

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Cuban boxing supremacy sealed with four further gold medals at Lima 2019

Cuban supremacy was confirmed as the nation secured four further gold medals on the final night of boxing competition at the Pan American Games here.

Boxers from the nation had earned four titles in yesterday’s men’s finals at the Miguel Grau Coliseum venue and their team-mates matched it today.

Reigning Olympic champion Arlen Lopez led the medal charge as the 26-year-old retained the men’s 75 kilograms middleweight title he earned four years ago in Toronto.

Lopez was awarded a unanimous points victory over his Brazilian rival Herbert Carvalho to take the title.

Beaten semi-finalists Nicaragua’s Lesther Espino and United States’ Troy Isley received bronze medals.

Lopez was one of three Cubans on the night to defend Toronto 2015 crowns, with 2017 world champion Andy Cruz winning the men’s 64kg light welterweight event for the second time.

He secured a 4-1 split decision win against America's Keyshawn Davis, with Alston Ryan from Antigua and Barbuda and Michael Alexander from Trinidad and Tobago completing the podium.

Osvel Caballero García delivered an impressive display in the men’s 56kg bantamweight final, earning a unanimous points win over America's Duke Ragan.

Each of the judges scored the contest 30-27 in the Cuban’s favour.

Erislandy Savón won the men's heavyweight final ©Getty Images
Erislandy Savón won the men's heavyweight final ©Getty Images

Erislandy Savón rubber stamped Cuba’s dominance by winning the men's 91kg heavyweight title.

The Olympic bronze medallist and reigning world champion repeated his victory from Toronto 2015, securing a 4-1 split decision win over Ecuador's Julio Castillo.

Bronze medals went to Abner Teixeira of Brazil and Peru's José Lucar.

Puerto Rico's Oscar Collazo was the only non-Cuban fighter to win a men’s event today, earning a 4-1 points verdict in his 49kg light flyweight contest with Colombia’s Yuberjen Martinez.

While Cuba scooped eight of the 10 men’s titles, they were absent from the women’s event.

Olympic and Toronto 2015 bronze medallist Ingrit Valencia of Colombia claimed the first women’s title of the evening.

The 30-year-old won via a 4-1 split decision verdict against America's Virginia Fuchs in the women’s 51kg flyweight event.

Venezuela’s Irismar Cardozo and Dominican Republic’s Miguelina Hernandez secured bronze medals.

Valencia’s team-mate Jessica Caicedo topped the standings in the middleweight competition following a close final against the United States’ Naomi Graham.

Four judges awarded the Colombian the fight 29-28, while the other judge gave Graham the decision by the same score.

Canada’s Tammara Thibeault and Brazil’s Flavia Figueiredo completed the podium.

There was a clear victory for Brazil’s Beatriz Soares in the women’s 60kg lightweight final as she eased to a unanimous points victory over Argentina’s Dayana Sanchez.

Bronze medals were claimed by Rashida Ellis of the US and Mexico’s Esmeralda Falcon.

Kim Rhode won her third consecutive Pan American Games women's skeet title ©Getty Images
Kim Rhode won her third consecutive Pan American Games women's skeet title ©Getty Images

Olympic medallists were also on show away from the boxing venue.

America's Kim Rhode, the three-time Olympic women's skeet champion, secured her third consecutive Pan American Games title.

She achieved a score of 55 hits to clinch victory, with Chile's Francisca Crovetto and Rhode's team-mate Dania Vizzi completing the podium places with 47 and 40.

Further gold for the US  came in the men's 10 metre air rifle shooting event with Lucas Kozeniesky topping the standings on a score of 248.2 points. 

Mexico's Edson Ramirez was second on 247.4 points, with Argentina's Marcelo Julian Gutierrez taking the bronze on 224.5.

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Cuba Hangs Pan Am Hopes on Boxing

Five men’s and two women’s gold medal matches are on the schedule for Thursday evening. All five of the men’s matches feature a Cuban. Success in the ring this evening and again tomorrow, when four more boxers are battling in men’s finals, will boost the country’s medal tally significantly.

Cuba currently sits 7th on the medals table, with five gold medals and a total of 22. The host country Peru is in 8th, with four gold medals among its total of 11. The United States leads with 78 total medals, 33 of them gold. Mexico is a distant runner-up with 49, including 14 gold.

Four other sports will also be handing out medals on Thursday.

Track cycling has finals in men’s and women’s team sprint as well as the omnium men points race.

In diving, it’s the finals of the women’s 3m synchronized springboard and the men’s 1m springboard.

Shooting awards medals in two events: women’s 10m air rifle and men’s 25m rapid fire pistol.

Finally, it’s the bronze medal and gold medal games in men’s softball. The United States and Mexico began play at 10am in Lima. The loser of this game takes the bronze medal, with the winner moving on to face Argentina in the gold medal game in the afternoon.

There was no daily press briefing on Thursday with Lima 2019 spokesman Carlos Manuel Lazarte. He has spent much of his time the past few days answering questions about problems with the transportation system for the Games, especially for the media.

On Wednesday, he announced that some changes had been made and promised an improvement in the system.

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Cuban Boxers Aspire to Dominate Pan-American Games in Lima

Cuba's ten-strong boxing team aspires to dominate the sports program at the Pan-American Games in Lima, Peru, from July 26 to August 11, Jit magazine reported on Sunday.

'We come to Lima for all gold medals,' the team's head coach, Rolando Acebal, told reporters during a training session in the Peruvian capital.

'We always talk about seven titles, because the analyses take into account the outlook in certain divisions, assessing the rivals and the reduced practice of our representatives, but today I do not exagerate when I take for granted that everyone is fit to win,' the trainer pointed out a few days before the inauguration of the continental games.

Acebal explained that 'when we talk about fighting for all titles we summarize the willingness of the boys, who are aware that this has been the main goal throughout the training' of a group with a high technical-tactical level.

The coach highlighted 'their huge commitment to success' and assured that once again 'the country's leadership can trust us'.

The Cuban delegation is made up of Yosbany Veitia, Lazaro Alvarez, Andy Cruz, Roniel Iglesias, Arlen Lopez, Erislandy Savon, Damian Arce, Osvel Caballero and Dainier Pero.

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Andy Cruz: I will not Let my People Down with My Fists

Saying out loud Andy Cruz (August 12th, 1995) in the boxing world is to speak about one of the best boxers pound by pound worldwide. At his 24 years old, from Matanzas he climbs up on the ring he is a very joyful young man, who speaks with a peculiar accent and earns everyone’s favor.

It is just like this that we start the interview with the best sportsman of the year in Cuba and this reporter, after he flattered athlete Yorgelis Rodríguez, in an atmosphere of happiness and celebration:

From Rookie of the year to Best sportsman in Cuba, did something change from one year to another?

"I think nothing changed. I simply kept my levels of training, the same desires to win, the same energy to keep and improve my results. Thanks God everything came together and I am giving my people a great joy, my family, and followers of Alacranes who have always been faithful to me. That shows that the sacrifice has not been in vain. I plan to keep giving moments of happiness to our people that is so demanding and expert on sports. So there is plenty of Andy for a while."

What is the secret behind Andy’s training to stay at such excellent level for more than three years now?

"The trainings, discipline, commitment and the desire to keep going. That winning spirit, the need of success. While I’m boxing I adapt to the fight as it comes. Close, medium or long distance. My extremities and being a bit taller for the 64 kg gives me an edge in the medium and long distance, but my favorite style is counter attack. That’s when I get advantage over my opponents.

They say repetition is the mother of teaching. When you train hard one element, the time comes when you put into practice, or just flows naturally on its own. The jab is one of my main weapons, although I usually combine it with uppercuts and swings looking for effective combinations".

Is there any exercise you prioritize during trainings and sparring in The Farm?

"Solo work at the end of each session is crucial. Running and the jumping rope are among my favorite exercises, as well as rope climbing. I try to keep at the same level the mobility and strength of my punching, because it’s a division where you can feel the force behind the punches.

If you face opponents and they don’t your punches, it’s like you are doing nothing.

I think sparring with Julio Cesar La Cruz, Lázaro Álvarez, and Roniel Iglesias are quite useful for me. Each has their peculiar fighting style, I take advantage of them and they make me a better and more complete boxer. I always try to follow coach’s instructions to the letter and so far it has paid off.

Many people believe that my style is similar to that of Julio, that’s true to a point: I like dodging to avoid getting punched when I attack. Partly because of my mother who is my number one fan and sometimes she doesn’t watch my difficult combats because she doesn't like to see me hit, and for the stress that cause her".

Andy won in the World Championship of Boxing, competition where he stretched his win streak to 16, since he debuted in February 2015 against Mexican Brian González.

His boxing put him on the top of the ranking by divisions of the tournament, after defeating 2-1 the Kazakh Dilmurat Mizhitov in the final match.

He attained the same position in the 64 kg of AIBA, where with 1 700 points he looks in the rearview the Uzbek Ikboljon Kholdarov and Fazliddin Gaibnazarov (1 300), their closest chasers. He finished his impressive year with the gold medal in the Chemistry World Cup of Halle.

The Matador, as he is known in The Farm will have his last exam of 2018 in the Playa Giron Tournament, home based in Camagüey, where the main representatives boxers of the country will be. For this bold boxer who began at age 10 in boxing after a brief pass through karate these 12 months are a middle stop to glory, because he still thinks about the possibility of the Olympic gold medal in Tokyo 2020, and that is where he is aiming his fists.

National Series of Boxing: The Comeback of Veitía

The final stage of the national series of boxing will be held in early November and we have gladly welcomed the first good news: the comeback of Yosbany Veitía, sanctioned for several months after failing to make the weight during an international tournament.

The Cuban Boxing Federation took into account the impeccable career of the boxer and certainly his behavior during the sanction time. This sort of sanctions usually lasts one year but it was reduced by half, which is excellent for the Cuban boxing world.

Veitía, World and Olympic medalist, will be one of the boxers of the national team to become reinforcements of the six teams involved in the fight for the crown: Camagüey, Santiago de Cuba, Pinar del Río, Villa Clara, Havana and Holguín.

As one can see, there will be one or two surprises among the participants, because it’s very likely that Guantanamo qualifies in the East. However, they could not count on their main figures in the qualifying stage, and that spoiled their regular presence in the final.

Nevertheless, Erislandy Savón (with Santiago), Jorge Moirán and Arlen López (with Holguín) will take part as reinforcements. Here it’s worth recalling that the participation of these boxers is regulated and they cannot step into the ring every day.

The actions will kick off next November 4th in the capital (Havana), whose team opens as main candidate to the crown, because its roster includes renowned boxers such as Arnolis Bigñote (52kg), Yoángel Moya and Armando Martínez (60kg), Ángelo Morejón (91kg) and Yoandry Toirac (+91kg), plus Andy Cruz (64kg) and Osley Iglesias (69kg) from Matanzas. Obviously, they will be a hard nut to crack, even more when they are hosts.

The other rosters with a large number of boxers with international participations are central and eastern champions: Camagüey and Santiago de Cuba

Camagüey will have Damián Arce (49kg), Veitía (52kg), Darieski Palmero (60kg), Kevin Brown (69kg) and Julio César La Cruz (81kg) as their main trump card, while Santiago de Cuba’s roster will include Frank Zaldívar (56kg), Arisnoidis Despaigne and Antonio Bicet (69kg), Savón (91kg) and José Ángel Larduet (+91).

Pinar del Rio cannot be dismissed, since its roster includes Osvel Caballero (56kg), Lázaro Álvarez (60kg), Roniel Iglesias (69kg) and Osnay Bencomo (81kg), but this seems not to be enough to fight for the crown, as well as Holguin, whose roster will have Jorge Griñán (52kg), Moirán (64kg) and Arlen López (75kg) as its top figures, but we should remember that there are ten divisions and a team must win at least six times in order to pick the win in each match.

By all accounts, Villa Clara is the weakest team, because it lacks renowned figures, but you should remember that record does not always prevail in this sport.

As is traditional, the participants will compete in three daily matches for five days in a round-robin system, and the boxer who scores the highest throughout the tournament will take the crown. As of now, the bouts among the contenders from Havana, Camagüey and Santiago de Cuba are expected to the most attractive ones, without tarnishing the rest.

Translated by Jorge Mesa Benjamin / CubaSi Translation Staff

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