Junior World Championships

Awesome Armenia claim four golds on home soil as 2023 IBA Junior World Boxing Championships end

December 4th, 2023 / Junior World Championships

Armenia closed out the 2023 IBA Junior World Boxing Championships with three more gold medals at the Mika Stadium, on home soil.

Adding to Vagharshak Keyan’s victory yesterday, Tigran Ovsepian, Argishti Hakobyan and Albert Harutyunyan claimed titles in their respective weight categories in Yerevan.

European junior champion Ovsepian faced Angel Dimitrov of Bulgaria in the men’s 50kg final and he utilised his southpaw stance to gain points with judges, but Dimitrov came back late in the first round with a strong right hand to narrowly take the first round. Much like the colour of his vest and shorts, the Armenian saw red, coming out the corner aggressively towards Dimitrov and closing down the space to the Bulgarian, whose body shots were nothing compared to the several southpaw strikes to the head. The Armenian piled pressure on Dimitrov and had him against the ropes, but the Bulgarian had the home favourite bending at the knees with a clear punch to give him a fighting chance. The judges favoured the pressure of Ovsepian, making him the second home gold medallist at the Championships.

In comparison, Hakobyan was relaxed in his men’s 66kg bout with Ivan Siniak of Belarus. Both boxers adopted a loose style, using counter-attacking tactics to get their shots in. The Armenian led after the first round and took the second round unanimously with some perfectly-executed strikes. Siniak had to revert from counterpunching to being the aggressor, going against his natural instincts to try and force a knock down, but Hakobyan held strong for the unanimous victory.

Harutyunyan received a rapturous response from the crowd from the bell, driving into his opponent with quick hands, catching India’s Sahil on several occasions. The Indian looked much more competent afterwards, setting up a nervous final round. When Harutyunyan caused Sahil to receive a standing count, it was game over in the men’s 75kg, despite his opponent rallying in the final minute. A unanimous decision may seem harsh on Sahil who played his part in one of the best final bouts of the tournament.

With a day of defeats yesterday, India would claim its first gold medal of the Championships thanks to Payal in the women’s 48kg. Facing Armenia’s only female finalist, Heghne Petrosyan, it was initially a close affair, before missing swings from Petrosyan allowed Payal to capitalise. From there, she controlled the match.

Even more convincing was her teammate Nisha in the women’s 52kg, who led the charge from the bell, keeping her opponent, Tajikistan’s Farinoz Abdulloeva, on the defence. Once she found her rhythm, the footwork of Abdulloeva looked more comfortable, allowing her to pick her punches, but just as she looked to have an opportunity to come back into the bout, a few clean punches from Nisha in the second round caused the Tajikistan boxer to become passive, making the decision to award the Indian the victory an easy one for the judges.

While there was plenty of heartache in the finals for India – with nine of their 12 boxers losing – it was a strong day for women’s boxing as Akansha Phalaswal defeated Elizabeta Taimazova of Russia in the 70kg category. A scrappy first round was followed by nonstop action that only paused to replace Taimazova’s damaged head guard. The final strike of the second round saw Phalaswal catch the Russian with a left jab, giving her the points advantage which she held on to.

After John Maher’s victory yesterday, Siofra Lawless made it two wins from two for Ireland, putting in the most impressive performance of the day in the women’s 63kg over Shrushti Sachin Suthe from India. Lawless was quick on her feet, maintaining a gap for the majority of the bout and frustrating Sathe who went looking to close and corner the Irish boxer. It was a great response from the Indian, who caught Lawless off her guard; but when the composure was regained, it was Ireland out on top. Several unprotected punches to the face saw Sathe face a standing count, and unsurprisingly, Lawless claimed the gold medal.

Uzbekistan also claimed three titles today, with the gold rush starting with Sevara Mamatova in the women’s 57kg. A calculating first round would go the way of Mamatova, but the bout woke up as the bell rang for the next. While India’s Vini became more active, the Uzbekistan boxer was able to combine enough strikes to hold her at a distance and win unanimously.

It was followed by a win for Firuzjon Sadullaev in the men’s 60kg over home favourite Andranik Martirosyan. A late one-two from Sadullaev gave him the edge in the first round that was dominated by the pair clutching each other when attempting to strike. The second was cleaner, with both boxers getting a scene-stealing strike. Both had a chance to win going into the third, leading to a frenetic, physical pace. It would be Sadullaev who would have his arm raised, showing off his physical prowess in his celebrations too, performing a cartwheel-somersault combination in the ring.

Much like yesterday, Uzbekistan won the final bout of the night – this time it went to Islam Salikhov in the men’s 80+kg. Salikhov was given the nod in the first round and then all but sealed victory by the end of the second, allowing him to control the rest of the bout on his way to the gold, beating a solid opponent in Hemant Sangwan from India.

Russia would finish top of the medal table, securing two more gold medals. The first of these came for Islam Magomedov in the men’s 46kg final against Arno Darchinyan of Armenia. Both had success in the opener, with Darchinyan pushing forward on the front foot, but halted on a few occasions by a clean right uppercut. He kept pushing with his might with an overhand right hook, but Magomedov was magic on his feet, constantly on his toes and able to dodge the offence of the Armenian. A knockout was needed in the final round and to his credit, Darchinyan stirred Magomedov throughout even leading to a referee’s count, but the early damage was already done, giving the Russian the victory.

Anna Buzuleva claimed the women’s 80kg title, with victory over India’s Megha Sheokand, albeit quicker than expected. The Russian focused her attack on the torso, using bent arm punches to bring Sheokand in close and land more points. Both boxers were closely matched in the second round, with a final two minutes seeing the winner take all. Unfortunately, an injury for Sheokand would not see the climax this bout deserved, with Buzuleva taking the gold medal.

Finally, Nurassyl Tulebek made it four wins from four for Kazakhstan, beating India’s Jatin in the men’s 54kg. The speed of Jatin helped him to launch several attacks on Tulebek in the opening round, but judges deemed Tulebek’s shots to be cleaner. With a point to prove, the Indian came charging out of his corner, but looked less tidy as Tulebek had a controlled offence. An understated final round ensured Tulebek would have his arm raised at the end of the bout.

Behind Russia in the medal table were hosts Armenia with four golds, beating Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan by virtue of more silver medals.