Azerbaijan off the mark, Syria and Kazakhstan get first golds

18 May 2017

Azerbaijan took the first of six possible boxing gold medals on Thursday as Javid Chalabiyev won the men's lightweight (60kg) final, while Syria and Kazakhstan both struck gold for the first time at the 2017 Islamic Solidarity Games.

Clearly spurred on by a raucous home support and the presence of Azerbaijan's president Ilham Aliyev, Chalabiyev came out all guns blazing in his bout with Ammar Karbalai of Iraq at Baku's Crystal Hall.

Karbalai, who had won his two previous fights by unanimous points decision, looked to soak up the pressure and sneak through Chalabiyev's defences on the counter, but the 2013 world amateur champion was simply too hot to handle.

He continued to hammer away at the Iraqi with late flurries in the first and second rounds and a furious volley at the start of the third, before securing gold for the host nation by unanimous decision.

Azerbaijan will be hoping that Chalabiyev's triumph sparks a gold rush at Crystal Hall on Thursday, with five more of their boxers gearing up for final bouts.

In the first of the evening's 10 finals, Syria finally got their hands on Solidarity Games gold as Hussin Almasri saw off Iraq's Hasan Naser in the light-flyweight (46-49kg) final.

Almasri was always on top in a scrappy contest and was crowned champion by unanimous decision.
Kazakhstan also struck gold for the first time in Baku as Azat Mahmetov saw off a spirited challenge from Morocco's Abdelali Daraa to triumph in the flyweight (52kg) class.

The Kazakh began more brightly and appeared to have the measure of his opponent technically, even if Daraa showed plenty of aggression in the third round.

Mahmetov connected with two quickfire jabs late on and was awarded the gold by split decision (4-1).
In the bantamweight (56kg) final, Abdulkhay Sharakhmatov took the first of three potential gold medals for Uzbekistan as he powered past Turkmenistan's Yakub Meredov.

The Uzbek was asking all the questions in the first round, before the two men traded blows in a feisty second act.

With energy levels rapidly diminishing, Sharakhmatov stayed on top in the third to secure a 10th Solidarity Games gold for Uzbekistan, who are vying with Iran for third place in the overall medal table.

The boxing action concludes with six more finals on Thursday evening.

© AFP Services

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