Baku, Azerbaijan, June 12, 2015: The very first edition of the European Games will begin on June 12 in Baku, Azerbaijan with the boxing competition scheduled to open on June 16. Thousands of fans will have an opportunity to experience amazing boxing matches during the sixteen days of competition in Crystal Hall venue.
10 men’s and five women’s weight classes are set to compete in the multi-sport event, as Europe’s best boxers will all attempt to earn a coveted gold medal.
There has been much anticipation regarding the European Games in many sporting circles, and boxing is expected to play a pivotal role in the event.
“These first European Games are a great opportunity for our boxers in 10 men’s and five women’s weight classes to compete in such a multi-sports event ” said Dr Wu.
30 quotas for the AIBA World Boxing Championships Doha 2015 will be granted to the top three boxers in each men category, and for the first time ever, European boxers from all three of AIBA’s competitions will battle against each other for gold medals with a total of 220 men and 66 women boxers competing.
Katie Taylor returns to action
Five-time AIBA Women’s World Champion, six-times European Continental Champion and London 2012 Olympic Games gold medalist Katie Taylor is one of the most decorated and successful boxers in history, and despite her many accomplishments, the 28-year-old is hungry for even more success in Baku.
The Irish star wants to add an inaugural European Games gold medal to her glittering collection, but her mission will not be easy, as Russia’s AIBA Women’s World Champion Zinaida Dobrynina has recently moved up to Lightweight (60 kg).
With all eyes on the gold medal machine, will Taylor maintain her undefeated streak, or can the talented Russian triumph in Azerbaijan?
Vystropova vs Beliakova expected to dazzle
Azerbaijan’s defending EUBC European Women’s Continental Champion Elena Vystropova has moved down to Light Welterweight (64 kg) to give herself the best chance of a gold medal in her home country, but the looming threat of Russia’s current AIBA Women’s World Champion Anastasia Beliakova is one which could derail those carefully laid plans.
Beliakova has lost just once in 2015 which makes her a dangerous opponent in Baku, while the support of the Azeri crowd could give Vystropova an added emphasis to succeed.
Ones to watch in the event
Britain’s London 2012 Olympic Games winner Nicola Adams was forced to miss the last edition of the AIBA Women’s World Boxing Championships in Jeju due to injury, but she returned to action with a gold medal in the Boxam Tournament last month.
The Women’s Flyweight class (51 kg) boxer has plans in Baku to avenge the defeat she suffered a year ago to Bulgaria’s Stoyka Petrova in the EUBC European Women’s Continental Championships.
Russia’s dangerous duo of Aleksandr Besputin and Maksim Koptyakov are both previous EUBC European Continental Championships gold medalists, which makes them favourites at Welterweight (69 kg) and Middleweight (75 kg).
The Russian delegation also contains talented newcomers including Bator Sagaluyev (49 kg), EUBC European Youth Continental Champion Vasiliy Vetkin (52 kg) and multiple international tournament winner Bakhtovar Nazirov (56 kg).
APB and WSB boxers aim to impress
Italy’s Valentino Manfredonia finished top of the World Series of Boxing (WSB) Season V Individual Rankings at Light Heavyweight (81 kg), which earned him an immediate quota for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
The European Games represents a different challenge for the talented Italian however, and he faces a tough task to win gold with Ukraine’s AIBA Youth World Champion Oleksandr Khyzniak, Netherlands’ EUBC European Continental Championships silver medallist Peter Mullenberg and Russia’s strong WSB boxer Pavel Silyagin all potential rivals in Baku.
Azerbaijan’s two-time AIBA World Champion Magomedrasul Medzhidov is one of the most dominant Super Heavyweight (+91 kg) boxers in the world, and has recently impressed in AIBA Pro Boxing (APB).
One of the highlights of the European Games could be a clash between Medzhidov and Britain’s Commonwealth Games winner Joseph Joyce, who enjoyed a very successful season in WSB.
European Games stats and facts
The European Games will be held across five women weight classes: 51 kg, 54 kg, 60 kg, 64 kg and 75 kg, while the ten men weight classes involve: 49 kg, 52 kg, 56 kg, 60 kg, 64 kg, 69 kg, 75 kg, 81 kg, 91 kg and +91 kg.
210 men’s boxers will be competing in the event, with Azerbaijan, Germany and Russia all sending the maximum number of 15 boxers to Baku.
Ukraine, France, Britain, Italy and Ireland have also sent strong squads with multi-medal expectations.
The participating 41 nations all have boxers competing in the tournament: Albania, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Kosovo, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Montenegro, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey and Ukraine. —- AIBA