New technologies will be presented at AIBA World Boxing Championships 2019

Russian Boxing Federation (RBF) partnered with STATISPORT to inaugurate a world premiere in boxing by introducing Performance Data collection during the AIBA Men’s World Championships 2019 in Ekaterinburg.

STATISPORT will collect in-competition data using proprietary sensors technology and machine learning algorithms. STATISPORT will also work alongside with the Russian Boxing Federation on developing in the future new advance technologies to bring real-time advanced analytics to fans, teams, media providers, partners and competition officials.

Russian Boxing Federation is the first boxing governing body to embrace sensors technology and by infusing an advanced analytics system in a major competition.

“We’re thrilled to have STATISPORT onboard to start innovating in the AIBA Men’s World Championships 2019. It presents a very exciting opportunity for our sport, our athletes and boxing fans. STATISPORT brings innovative ways to analyze the sport and we strongly believe it will change the way Boxing is perceived.” said Umar Kremlev, Russian Boxing Federation Secretary General. “The sport of Boxing has been expecting new technologies development and we shall act as the driving force in terms of innovation and embracing new solutions.”

“We are excited to partner with the Russian Boxing Federation and having the possibility to work on the biggest Elite boxing competition platform” said Jerry Krylov, co-founder of STATISPORT. “There has been a lot of discussions about what technology will bring to boxing, so to see RBF taking the lead and embracing new technologies to a major competition, we feel very honored to have been chosen. Our advanced analytics will bring in the future an unprecedented level of competition insight to fans throughout the world. We’re entering a new era, and we couldn’t be happier to be doing so directly with RBF.”

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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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Olympic champion César La Cruz earns third Pan American Games boxing title

Reigning Olympic champion Julio César La Cruz of Cuba secured his third consecutive Pan American Games title in the men's under-81 kilograms boxing competition.

The 29-year-old defeated Brazil's Keno Marley Machado on points to add a Lima 2019 gold medal to those won at Guadalajara 2011 and Toronto 2015.

Completing the podium was Nalek Rachid Korbaj Barrera of Venezuela and Rogelio Romero Torres of Mexico. 

Cuba enjoyed a successful evening at Villa Deportiva Regional del Callao, with a further three boxers triumphing in gold-medal bouts. 

Lazaro Jorge Alvarez Estrada defeated Leonel de los Santos Nunez of Dominican Republic on points in the men's under-60kg, replicating the feat of his compatriot and achieving his third successive Pan American title.

Leodan Pezo Saboya of Peru and Venezuela's Luis Angel Cabrera Machado finished with bronze. 

London 2012 Olympic champion Roniel Iglesias Sotolongo was then victor in the men's under-69kg, winning by points against Dominican Republic's Rohan Polanco Emiliano.

Dainier Christi Pero Justiz was the last Cuban boxer to take to the ring, claiming his country's fourth gold medal against Colombia's Cristian Camilo Salcedo Codazzi on points. 

Bronze went to Richard Torrez Jr of the United States and Jamaica's Damion Brown Ricardo.

Argentina were the victors in the men's softball, defeating the US to take gold ©Getty Images
Argentina were the victors in the men's softball, defeating the US to take gold ©Getty Images

In the women's competition, American Oshae Taylor triumphed in the under-69kg, overcoming Myriam da Silva of Canada on points.

Argentina's Leonela Rosa No Sanchez was the winner of the under-57kg gold-medal bout, defeating Brazil's Jucielen Cerqueira Romeu on points. 

Yeni Marcela Arias Castaneda of Colombia and Yarisel Ramirez of the United States had bronze. 

There was more success for Argentina in the men's softball, with the team taking gold after cruising to a 5-0 victory over the United States, with Mexico the bronze medallists. 

Cuba had started their gold rush in the shooting at the beginning of the day, with Jorge Alvarez Llanes coming first in the the men's 25 metre rapid fire pistol with 28 points. 

Compatriot Leuris Pupo was just behind in second with 26, while Peru's Marko Carrillo completed the podium on 21.

American Alison Weisz came out on top in the women’s 10 metres air rifle competition with a Pan American record of 249.4.

She beat her team-mate Minden Miles for the title, with Miles scoring 246.4.

Argentina’s Fernanda Russo was eliminated in third place on 225.8.

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IOC taskforce to oversee organisation of boxing at Tokyo 2020 after AIBA suspended

The International Boxing Association (AIBA) has been suspended as the Olympic governing body for the sport and will not play any role in organising the tournament at Tokyo 2020, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced today.

The IOC has set up a taskforce to oversee the delivery of an Olympic boxing competition at next year's Games in the Japanese capital.

The group, to be chaired by International Gymnastics Federation President Morinari Watanabe, will also be tasked with organising the qualification system.

Qualifying events will take place between January and May of next year.

Exact weight categories for the men's and women's events have not yet been confirmed, however, meaning the uncertainty for boxers hoping to compete at the Games continues.

The IOC has set a deadline of the end of next month for this to be put in place, while a review of quota places will also be carried out.

The decision, taken by the Executive Board following a six-month inquiry into AIBA, is subject to final approval at next month's Session here from June 24 to 26.

The Olympic boxing event at Tokyo 2020 will be "organised following guidelines established by the Executive Board" but who will be in charge of running it remains unclear.

In its full decision, the IOC Executive Board said the current situation of AIBA "is such that its practices and activities continue to fall short of full conformity and compliance with the Olympic Charter and the IOC Code of Ethics".

The IOC claim this "presents serious legal, financial and reputational risks to the IOC and the Olympic Movement".

AIBA has been given hope that it can regain its recognition after Tokyo 2020, with its progress due to be assessed by a monitoring committee consisting of the members who led the initial inquiry.

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AIBA Pleased With Reform Process

The AIBA executive committee bureau says it is pleased with the boxing federation’s progress on the reforms that will keep it in the good graces of the IOC.

“I continue to be impressed by the dedication and commitment of the members of the Executive Committee Bureau, and how well these individuals are assisting the AIBA Headquarters in meeting IOC mandates and offering quality customer service to our AIBA family,” Gafur Rahimov said in a statement.

Rahimov reported on the current status of the settlement between Benkons and AIBA. Benkons had loaned AIBA $10 million and the boxing federation admits it would have faced bankruptcy had the two sides not reached an out-of-court settlement in January. The two sides have since been working on what AIBA calls a “win-win” solution.

The EC bureau calls AIBA’s financial situation “challenging but manageable”.

This week’s meeting also touched on topics such as the mixed doubles boxing initiative, the next report due to the IOC, and the current situation AIBA faces with WADA regarding the 2019 World Championships.

The EC Bureau also agreed to forward a proposal to name an ethics commission chair for ratification at the next Executive Committee meeting, scheduled for next month.

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Another Stripe for the AIBA

The International Boxing Association (AIBA) has just added another stripe to its already loaded suit of irregularities: the World Series of Boxing (WSB) Season VIII won’t have quarter-final leg.

In a previous commentary we already noticed that this event, pretty useful for Cuban boxing, is running a serious risk of disappearing because of the lack of seriousness of the AIBA when setting the rules, especially in the decisive instances, precisely those that claim it the most.

It all turned out perfectly in its first editions, but in the last ones they agree something in the technical congress of the event, but then another is done, when the moment of truth arrives.

First, when they said that the final would be in the country of the best qualified team of the regular leg, but it did not happen like that, and last year the title match was hardly held of budget problems.

Money issue seems to be the one that keeps the Series agonizing, although the AIBA, which in addition still has serious problems of governability, hasn’t recognized it publicly.

Consequently, teams such as Uzbek Tigers that thought to take part in the postseason, will no longer have chance to the throne, hence their preparation plans will be disrupted.

According to a draw recently held with no justification because there was a global ranking of the Series, the semifinals will include Cuban Tamers vs. French Fighting Roosters on one hand, and British Lionhearts vs. Astana Arlans Kazakhstan on the other hand.

Firstly, they will fight in the C-2 format and then in the C-1 one (Cuba closes the Series at home) on May 18 and 25, and in case of a draw at the end of the ten fights of the regular schedule, the tie-breaker will be an extra bout in the 69 kg division.

You’d better do not ask me how and where the final will be held. The brainy executives of the AIBA will already be thinking how to close the event in the best way, and surprises are not ruled out.

Translated by Jorge Mesa Benjamin / CubaSi Translation Staff

WSB final match: Necessary evil

Our editorial staff has received several phone calls and emails, with regard to the celebration of the final match of the World Series of Boxing (WSB) in Kazakhstan.

In general, local fans outraged because of the unfulfillment of what was agreed at the technical meeting regarding the celebration of home-and-away match to dispute the crown.

Aimed at clarifying doubts, I went to the Cuban Federation of this sport, and its president, Alberto Puig, confirmed that its initial state was the same. As an executive member of the International Boxing Association (AIBA), he stated his disagreement with the measure, but weighed up the pros and cons and preferred not to deprive our boxers from disputing the crown there, even under adverse conditions.

Cubans also rejected the fact that the official website of the event had published that the final would be there, even when the conditions were still being negotiated, so it was understood as a measure of pressure.

Of course, since it was not Cuba’s responsibility, our authorities demanded that the organizers cover the travel and subsistence expenses of the whole Cuban delegation (18 people) for a week, in which the members of the Domadores, including the figure in charge of deciding a likely tie, would benefit with a training base on Kazakh soil.

Moreover, and most importantly, he demanded in a clear tone that organizers have to provide total guarantees so all votes reflect what happened on the ring. Puig told me he wants to avoid at all costs an incident similar to the World Cup Houston-1999, because that would affect the image of IABA significantly, but he did not rule out withdrawing the squad if authentic deprivations take place at the Astana Sports Palace.

Finally, he explained that the line-up of the Domadores for the crucial clash would be released hours before departing to Kazakhstan, that is, at the end of next week.

From all this, you can gather once again that the Cuban Federation has acted with full transparency, and that the lack of seriousness does not fall over the Domadores, who will fight with all their strength to regain the crown they won last year.

Translated by Jorge Mesa Benjamin / Cubasi Translation Staff

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