At the start of these historic World Championships there were 258 boxers from 74 countries all dreaming of being in the ring for the finals here at state-of-the-art Ali bin Hamad Al Attiyah Arena, all carrying a distant dream of winning the gold medal for their countries and to qualify for the Olympics.
Tonight, that dream became reality for five of the finest pugilists in the world. The first gold-medal bout was in the light flyweight category between Russia’s Vasilii Egorov and Johanys Blue Argilagos of Cuba.
The 18-year-old Cuban is the youngest member of an impressive national team that has seen six of its boxers reaching the finals. After winning the AIBA Junior World Boxing Championships in 2013, Argilagos was desperate to cap his meteoric career rise to the senior world stage with a gold medal in front of the Cuban fans sitting ringside.
As the bell rung for the first round, Argilagos came flying onto Egorov in an opening maneuver to which the Russian never managed to respond. The light flyweight bout ended in emphatic fashion with the Cuban winning on unanimous decision. Later on in the medal ceremony, he received his gold medal from President of Qatar Olympic Committee, HH Sheikh Joaan bin Hamad Al Thani, and got to hear the Cuban national anthem played out in front of a roaring crowd.
I’m thrilled to be crowned world champion. That was my goal all year, and now I want to go on and become Olympic champion in Brazil next year.’
For Yousuf Ali Al Kazim, President of Qatar Boxing Federation and Executive Director of the LOC in association with Qatar Olympic Committee, it was a proud day as these historic World Championships nears the end:
I congratulate all of these athletes for reaching the finals; they are truly great role models for the boxing sport and will no doubt inspire the next generation of boxers both here in Qatar, but also across the world. I must also thank H.H. Sheikh Joaan Bin Hamad Al Thani for gracing us with his presence tonight, as he got to see the global boxing elite go head to head for gold medals in some extraordinary entertaining bouts.’
Next up was Michael Conlan, the first of the two Irishmen left in the competition, who stepped into the ring for the bantam weight final. Having already completed a personal best getting to the ultimate stage of the competition, he wanted to do one better and clinch the world title over his 20-year-old Uzbek opponent, Murodjan Akhmadaliev.
The Irish fans had come out in force for this gold-medal bout and got to see Conlan in exceptional form. Despite a late scare when he almost got knocked out by Akhmadaliev in the third round, he held on to secure his first-ever world title on unanimous decision.
Speaking after the historic gold medal was won, Conlan said:
I’m a world champion! There’s not much more I can say to be honest. I’m a bit speechless, although I have to say that I’m a bit disappointed that he knocked me down in the last round. I’ve never been on the canvas in my life. But I managed to win the gold medal, and I got to thank the Irish fans here in Doha. I’ve never seen anything like it in my life; I don’t even get this support back home. I’m completely over the moon!’
In the light welterweight final it was the colors of Uzebakistan flying high yet again in the stands as Fazliddin Gaibnazarov took on Russia’s Vitaly Unaytsev. After three close rounds, it was Unaytsev who won by the slightest of margins – 2:1 – and subsequently got to see the Russian flag paraded around the arena to the roaring celebrations of the crowd.
It feels amazing; I can’t believe that I’m a world champion! It was very tough, but I knew I could win. I’m so proud.’
The third Uzbek in final bouts tonight, Bektemir Melikuziev, had to overcome Cuba’s Arlen Lopez to bring the gold medal back to Tashkent. The middle weight bout was a showpiece of the incredible athleticism on show here in Doha, as the pair kept relentlessly jabbing each other throughout. As the bell rang for the last time though, it was Lopez who could raise his arms in glory as Cuba cashed in the second gold medal in quick succession.
Speaking in the mixed zone with a shiny gold medal around his neck, the unanimous winner from Cuba said:
It’s great to win gold here in Doha! My family and fans are here supporting me, it’s just amazing. To become world champion was my goal, and now I’ve achieved it! I can’t wait to enter the Olympics as reigning world champion!’
The last bout of an incredible day of world-class boxing at the Ali Bin Hamad Al Attiyah Arena, was the highly anticipated heavyweight final between Erislandy Savon from Cuba and another member of a strong Russian team here in Doha, Evgeny Tishchenko, who claimed the silver-medal in the last World Championships.
Cuba was chasing their third gold medal of the evening, but Tishchenko was a man on a mission and secured his first gold medal in the World Championships after winning convincingly on unanimous decision. This was his country’s second gold medal so far, and one for the memory books for the Russian heavyweight boxer:
This is a huge achievement for me to become world champion is incredible. The Cuban team is so strong and I knew it was going to be a tough fight. It could have gone either way, but I’m happy to have come out on top and with the gold medal – and a huge thank you to all my fans here!’
Earlier in the evening, there were box-offs to determine who would win the bronze medal in the bantam, light welter and middle weight category. The first bout was between India’s Shiva Tapa and Dzmitry Asanau from Belarus. Despite early promise from Tapa, it ended in a unanimous win for the Belarussian, who is now confirmed for the Olympics and can leave Doha with a bronze medal in the bag.
The other bronze bout with a ticket to Rio in the pot saw Egypt’s reigning African champion Hosam Abdin taking on Michael O’Reilly from Ireland. Much to the disappointment for the Irish contingent sat ringside, the bout resulted in the Egyptian fans erupting in celebration when Abdin was declared the winner by 3:0.
The third and final box-off never took place, as Thailand’s Wuttichai Masuk won on walkover ahead of Cuba’s Yasniel Toledo Lopez.
Tomorrow is the last and final day of the Doha 2015 AIBA World Boxing Championships. Another world-famous boxing legend is expected to be ringside for the bouts, namely Vitaly Klitschko. In addition Nissan will give out four brand new cars! The boxing action on offer, starting from 7pm, is as follows:
- Bronze bout 60 kg Elnur Abduraimov (UZB) v. Robson Donato Conceicao (BRA)
- Bronze bout 69 kg Parviz Aghirov (AZE) v. Wei Liu (CHI)
- Finals bout 52 kg Yosbany Eitia (CUB) v. Elvin Mamishzada (AZE)
- Finals bout 60 kg Lazaro Alvarez (CUB) v. Albert Selimov (AZE)
- Finals bout 69 kg Daniyar Yeleussinov (KAZ) v. Mohammed Rabii (MAR)
- Finals bout 81 kg Joseph Ward (IRL) v. Julio La Cruz (CUB)
- Finals bout 91+ kg Ivan Dychko (KAZ) v. Tony Yoka (FRA)
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