Uzbekistan boxers impress at Islamic Solidarity Games

16 May 2017
Kazakhstan's Kuan Kuatov (blue) and Turkmenistan's Zufar Saparbayev compete in thier Men's Light Welter (64kg) boxing bout during the Baku 2017.

Uzbekistan boosted their hopes of golden glory at the Islamic Solidarity Games in Baku on Tuesday as five of their boxers reached the semi-finals.
Abrorjon Kodirov (52 kg) joined Mironshokh Ibragimov (49kg), Abdulkhay Sharakhmatov (56kg), Aliyor Noraliev (64 kg) and Bobo-Usmon Baturov (69kg) in the final four of five different categories.

Kodirov overcame home hope Masud Yusifzada to guarantee himself at least a bronze medal in the flyweight division and he next locks horns with Morocco's Abdelali Daraa.

Uzbekistan have so far claimed six gold medals overall in Baku for their debut at the Islamic Solidarity Games and boxing could supply more titles.

In the day's first bout, Kuan Kuatov of Kazakhstan crushed Turkmenistan's Zufar Saparbayev to reach the light-welterweight (64kg) semis.

Saparbayev was a positive whirlwind of uncontrolled aggression and stood absolutely no chance against the straight-shooting Kazakh.

Kuatov sent his opponent to the mat with barely forty seconds on the clock, and simply kept hammering away en route to a unanimous points victory.

The second bout was more keenly-contested, with Uzbekistan's Aliyor Noraliev seeing off home hope Elvin Isayev.

The fight was something of a slow-burner but blazed into life in the second round, as Noraliev unleashed a flurry of blows that southpaw Isayev struggled to fend off.

In spite of a cut to his eye, the Azerbaijani bounced back and briefly put Noraliev down late in the third, to roars of encouragement from the home support at Crystal Hall.

It wasn't enough, however, and Noraliev won on a split decision to become the fourth Uzbek to progress to boxing's semi-finals stage.

Jordan's Obada Alkasbeh was the last man to book his place in the 64kg semi-finals as he cruised past Turkey's Volkan Gokcek by unanimous decision.

Egypt is another strong team with four boxers in the medal bouts.

Light-welterweight Eslam Mohamed cut a much more imposing figure than Chemseddine Kramou in their 64kg quarter-final, but the Algerian belied appearances with a spirited performance.

The Egyptian was always on top, however, and progressed on a split decision.

It was a similar story in the last fight of the day, which saw light-heavyweight Abdelrhamn Abdelgawwad triumph in the 81kg class at the expense of another Algerian, Mimouh Khelifa, once again on a split decision.

Egypt will now be looking to add several more gold medals to those that they have already won in the shooting and weightlifting.

With boxing's two losing semi-finalists picking up bronze, the winners of all of Tuesday's combats ensured they wouldn't go home empty-handed.

Turkey - who sat atop the overall medal table at the start of the day - hit back in the very next bout as Cem Karlidag emerged victorious from an intense combat with Morocco's Chouaib Ouahdi, in the first of the men's light-heavyweight (81kg) quarter-finals.

He was joined in the last four by Turkmenistan's Arslanbek Achilov - a competitor at the Rio 2016 Olympics - who needed just 2:26mins to defeat Adama Kone of Cote d'Ivoire by technical knockout in the first round.

Azerbaijan's Rauf Rahimov then restored a bit of national pride by downing Pakistan's Awais Ali Khan by unanimous decision, with the five judges all awarding him a perfect score of 30.

Seven Azeri boxers have now made it through to the semi-finals in seven different weight classes, and the host nation will be expecting plenty of gold medal success as they look to keep pace with Turkey at the top.

In the middleweight category, Cameroon's Dieudonné Wilfred Seyi Ntsengue celebrated his semi-final berth with a somersault after defeating Tanveer Ahmed of Pakistan.

The blond fighter will face the powerful Kazakh Tursynbay Kulahmet while the other semi-final will see Azerbaijan's Kamran Shakhsuvarly face Youness Gharroumi of Morocco.

© Agence France-Presse

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