IBA / Astana 2016

First finalists are confirmed as ten boxers take a big step towards World Championship gold on Thursday afternoon

May 26th, 2016 / IBA, Astana 2016

An entertaining afternoon session at the 2016 AIBA Women’s World Championships saw the ten finalists confirmed at light flyweight, bantamweight, light welterweight, welterweight and light heavyweight, with China and Kazakhstan leading the charge for gold.

Yuyan Wang booked her place in the light flyweight final after an entertaining encounter with American Marlen Esparza that saw the reigning flyweight champion Esparza come out blazing in the third round, but the Chinese boxer’s well-timed attacks proved decisive. Wang will now meet Kazakhstan’s defending champion Nazym Kyzaibay in Friday’s final.

Bulgarian bantamweight Stoyka Petrova landed a big left shortly before the bell to take a close first round against American Christina Cruz and never looked back, powering her way into a final showdown against Kazakhstan’s Dina Zholaman, who recovered from a slow start to beat China’s Piaopiao Li.

Having become only the second Irishwoman ever to earn a World Championship medal, light welterweight Kellie Harrington proved she could go all the way to gold with a masterful display of aggressive boxing against Canadian Sara Kali. Standing in her way will be China’s Wenlu Yang, who looked similarly controlled against Australia’s Skye Nicolson in the second semi.

“This is a dream come true, I can’t believe it but I’m thrilled to be in the final. I have to focus on the final now, the gold medal is there and I am close to getting it. One fight to go, and that is where my focus is,” said Harrington, who is competing in her first AIBA Women’s World Boxing Championships.

Chinese welterweight Hong Gu edged a close contest against Finland’s Elina Gustaffson to set up a final with home favourite Valentina Khalzova, who overcame resilient German Nadine Apetz with some accurate punches. Two of the most aggressive boxers at light heavyweight then delivered a thrilling, big-hitting bout, with China’s Xiaoli Yang narrowly outdoing America’s Franchon Crews. Yang will meet Australia’s Kaye Scott for the gold in Friday’s final after a superb final round from the Australian secured a win against Turkey’s Elif Guneri.

Thursday’s evening session gets underway with Great Britain’s London 2012 Olympic Games champion Nicola Adams needing to be at her very best if she is to continue her quest for a first World title by beating Kazakhstan’s Zhaina Shekerbekova. At lightweight, Katie Taylor will hope to remain on course for a record sixth world lightweight title when she faces her long-term rival Estelle Mossely of France, while reigning middleweight champion will have to beat Chinese Taipei’s Nien-Chin Chen if she is to defend her title in Friday’s final.