Mixed fortunes for Azerbaijan on final day

18 May 2017
Syria's Manaf Asaad (red) and Azerbaijan's Mahammadrasul Majidov compete in their Men's super heavy boxing bout during the Baku 2017.

Azerbaijan enjoying contrasting fortunes on the final day of the boxing competition at the 2017 Islamic Solidarity Games.

The host nation had been hoping to overhaul leaders Turkey in the overall medal table on Thursday, but remain in second place after only three of their six finalists managed to strike gold at Baku's Crystal Hall.

Uzbekistan enjoyed a much more successful day as they won all three of their finals, while there were maiden golds for Syria and Kazakhstan at this year's Solidarity Games.

It all started so well for Azerbaijan, as Javid Chalabiyev got them up and running with victory over Iraq's Ammar Karbalai in the men's lightweight (60kg) final.

The 2013 world amateur champion was simply too hot for Karbalai to handle, and unleashed some sensational volleys on his way to securing gold by unanimous points.

President Ilham Aliyev was on hand to present Chalabiyev with his medal as a boisterous crowd at Crystal Hall began dreaming of an Azeri gold rush.
But the hosts were soon stopped in their tracks by the imposing Bobo-Usmon Baturov of Uzbekistan.

Baturov has been one of the standout fighters at these Solidarity Games, powering through each of his bouts in the welterweight (69kg) category by unanimous points decision.

Azerbaijan's Tamerlan Abdullayev was powerless to prevent history from repeating itself as Baturov silenced the Crystal Hall with another formidable display.

The home hopeful was left hanging on for dear life as the Uzbek released wave after wave of ferocious attacks, and it was no surprise to see the judges award him gold by unanimous decision.

On the other hand, Aliyor Noraliev's unanimous-points win for Uzbekistan in the light-welterweight (64kg) final raised a few eyebrows.
Noraliev, who had already claimed a rather dubious win over Kazakhstan's Kuan Kuatov in the semis, appeared to have contested a close final with Egypt's Eslam Mohamed, but the judges decided otherwise.

Uzbekistan made it three golds from three finals as Adbulkhay Sharakhmatov swept aside Turkmenistan's Yakub Meredov in the bantamweight (56kg) showpiece.
Having topped the boxing medal table at the Rio 2016 Olympics, Uzbekistan will have been delighted to underline their status as one of the sport's pre-eminent nations.

Thursday's golden hat-trick also boosted their hopes of pipping Iran to third place in the overall medal table.

Meanwhile, Azerbaijan's day went from bad to worse as Kamran Shakhsuvarly was comfortably beaten by Kazakhstan's Tursynbay Kulahmet in the middleweight (75kg) final.

It rounded out a superb day for Kazakhstan, who claimed their first gold of the Solidarity Games when Azat Mahmetov saw off Morocco's Abdelali Daraa in the flyweight (52kg) class.

Mahmetov showed superior technique to contain the turbo-charged Daraa and get his country off the mark with a split-decision victory (4-1).
Azerbaijan's Rauf Rahimov had reached the light-heavyweight (81kg) final by walkover after his semi-final opponent retired, and that may have worked against him as he too fell short at the final hurdle.

Arslanbek Achilov became the third man to deny the host nation in as many fights as he built on a strong start to secure Turkmenistan's second gold of the Solidarity Games.

In the day's very first bout, meanwhile, Syria earned their maiden gold in Baku as Hussin Almasri saw off Iraq's Hasan Naser in the light-flyweight (46-49kg) final.

Azerbaijan at least ended the day on a high note, as their two strongest fighters - Olympic bronze medallists Teymur Mammadov and Mahammadrasul Majidov - grabbed gold in the heavyweight (91kg) and super heavyweight (+91kg) categories.

Mammadov, who also won gold at the 2015 European Games in Baku, towered over his opponent Burak Aksin, but certainly didn't have it all his own way in a gripping showdown.

Turkey's only representative in the finals did a tremendous job of ducking under Mammadov's crashing blows, but just about enough of them connected for the Azeri to triumph on a split decision (3-2).
Two-time world amateur champion Majidov then produced a controlled performance to win a somewhat subdued bout against Syria's Manaf Asaad.
Azerbaijan and Uzbekistan thus ended the boxing events on three golds apiece, with the hosts topping the sport's medal table thanks to a greater haul of silvers.

© AFP Services

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