Trio leads Serbian charge at EUBC European Boxing Championships

April 19th, 2024 / EUBC, IBA

Hopes will be high for hosts Serbia at the EUBC Elite Men’s and Women’s European Boxing Championships in Belgrade, with three standout stars part of their squad that will compete at the Aleksandar Nikolić Hall “Pionir”.

Vakhid Abbasov is the most notable of the 24-person squad, returning to defend his 2022 European title, a year before claiming silver at the European Games in Poland. Boxing at 67kg, he should face strong opposition from Lasha Guruli from Georgia, a two-time world medallist and silver medallist at the European Championships and European Games.

It will be the first EUBC Elite European Boxing Championships with men and women competing together, meaning Serbia will be hoping for more success from Natalia Shadrina in the women’s 60kg. Shadrina claimed a silver medal at last year’s European Games but has yet to stand atop the podium at this level. However, this is very competitive weight category that features one of Ireland’s greatest-ever boxers Kellie Harrington – the defending Olympic, European Championships and European Games champion who was also the 2018 world gold medallist.

Graduating from the junior ranks, Almir Memic is making a push for the podium in the men’s 75kg weight category, after twice winning bronze at the European U22 Championships in 2022 and 2023. Dzhambulat Bizhamov from Russia will be seeking a European crown to add to his silver medal from the 2021 IBA Men’s World Boxing Championships.

France brings a talented squadron to Belgrade, with three-time world medallist and defending European champion Billal Bennama, expecting gold at 54kg.

Tokyo 2020 medallists Loren Alfonso representing Azerbaijan and Russia’s Muslim Gadzhimagomedov are to compete against each other in the men’s 92kg weight category. Both have won world titles – Alfonso in 2021 at 86kg and Gadzhimagomedov in 2019 and 2023.

Another medallist from Tokyo, Buse Naz Çakıroğlu, looks to win a third gold medal at the European Championships, this time in the women’s 52kg. Her Turkish teammate Busenaz Surmeneli, the Olympic champion and two-time world champion, is seeking her first European title after claiming bronze at the previous two tournaments.

Bulgarian two-time European silver medallist and world bronze medallist Svetlana Staneva and Ireland’s two-time European bronze medallist Michaela Walsh are to face off in the women’s 57kg weight category, as both look to win their first European title.

Finally, Aoife O’Rourke, much like Çakıroğlu, is aiming for a third gold medal at the European Championships, competing in the women’s 75kg tournament against the likes of youth and junior prodigy Anastasiia Shamonova of Russia and Lithuania’s Gabriele Stonkute, the 2022 World and European champion, winning both titles at the heavier weight of 81kg.

There are 378 boxers registered from 30 nations, with the competition taking place from 18 to 28 April and available to watch on IBA’s YouTube channel.