There were famous names and breakthrough new talents on display at the Islamic Solidarity Games boxing tournament in the Azerbaijan capital of Baku over the past week, at which five nations eventually topped the podium. The two-time AIBA World Champion, Azeri Mahammadrasul Majidov, Uzbekistan’s unbeaten WSB hero Abdulkhay Sharakhmatov and Kazakhstan’s Strandja Memorial Tournament winner Tursynbai Kulakhmet were among those to earn the golds in the city’s iconic Crystal Hall, along with boxers from Syria, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan.
The start of competition saw 113 athletes from 21 countries chasing the title, the first of which went to Syria’s in-form Hussin Al-Masri. The Light Flyweight (49kg) had secured his qualification for the 2017 AIBA World Championships in Hamburg earlier this month, and proved too hot for Iraq’s Hasan Ali Nasser over three tight rounds.
Kazakhstan’s Azat Makhmetov won the Flyweight (52kg) gold, before Uzbekistan’s 20-year-old Bantamweight (56kg) sensation Abdulkhay Sharakhmatov, so central to Uzbek Tigers’ WSB success over the past two seasons, continued his winning ways by overcoming Turkmenistan’s Yakub Meredov in their final. Azerbaijan’s first gold came thanks to former World Champion Javid Chalabiyev’s win over Iraq’s Ammar Jabbar Hassan Karbalai at Lightweight (60kg), and Uzbekistan then topped the podium for a second time thanks to their former Junior World Champion Aliyor Noraliyev’s comprehensive win over Egypt’s Mohamed Eslam Aly.
Uzbekistan’s third gold of the tournament was won by rising Welterweight (69kg) talent and current National Champion Bobo-Usmon Boturov, before Kazakhstan secured their first gold through their former ASBC Asian Youth Champion, Middleweight (75kg) Tursynbai Kulakhmet. Turkmenistan’s Arslanbek Achilov achieved his career best performance by winning the Light Heavyweight (81kg) final, before Azerbaijan’s two London 2012 Olympic bronze medallists, Teymur Mammadov (91kg) and Mahammadrasul Majidov (+91kg), won respective golds to round-off a spectacular week of boxing.
(Photos © AFP Services/Baku 2017 Islamic Solidarity Games)