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Armenia’s Hovhannes Bachkov is aiming for his third European title

The 26 semi-finals of the EUBC European Men’s Elite Boxing Championships took place in Yerevan, Armenia in two sessions today. Twelve nations shared the places in the finals following these outstanding semi-final contests in the Armenian capital. Georgia, Spain, Armenia and England are the most successful countries in Yerevan where the local No.1, Hovhannes Bachkov has the chance to win his third European title.

The Prime Minister of Armenia, Mr. Nikol Pashinyan visited the venue of the competition and watched the bouts together with EUBC President Mr. Ioannis Filippatos, Secretary General of the International Boxing Association, Mr. Istvan Kovacs, the Deputy Minister of Culture and Sports Mr. Karen Giloyan and President of the Armenian Boxing Federation Mr. Ohanes Ovsepyan.

Altogether 20 nations earned at least one medal in the championships but Italy is the most successful with their seven semi-final spots. Spain and England both earned five guaranteed medals while Armenia, Georgia and Ukraine secured four in Yerevan.

Altogether 219 boxers from 39 nations are fighting for the 52 available medals in the Armenian capital. The EUBC European Men’s Elite Boxing Championships is holding at the 13 official weight categories: 48kg, 51kg, 54kg, 57kg, 60kg, 63.5kg, 67kg, 71kg, 75kg, 80kg, 86kg, 92kg and +92kg. Mr. Adam Kusior of Poland is the Technical Delegate of the EUBC European Men’s Elite Boxing Championships in Yerevan.

The 13 finals will be held at the EUBC European Men’s Elite Boxing Championships on Monday.

The bout of the day

Italy’s Salvatore Cavallaro seeded as No.1 at the middleweight (75kg) in this championship and during his road to the semi-finals, he was confident. The 27-year-old Italian had a powerful rival, Ireland’s Gabriel Dossen in the last four and he had a hard tactical job against the taller Irish. Dossen, who achieved bronze at the 2016 AIBA Youth World Boxing Championships, is also a southpaw boxer as Cavallaro and he had very similar game play today. Dossen surprised his experienced Italian opponent and used his distance effectively in this excellent semi-final contest. Cavallaro was not able to repeat his previous performance due to Dossen’s fantastic tactics therefore the Irishman could meet for the title with England’s Lewis Richardson who bowed out Scotland’s Samuel Hickey.

The surprise of the day

Ukraine’s Yuriy Zakharieiev is the first boxer in the history of our sport who won the AIBA Men’s Elite World Boxing Championships and the AIBA Youth World Boxing Championships in the same year. The Ukrainian light middleweight (71kg) boxer caught his English rival, Mohammed Harris Akbar with tough shots at the end of the first round. U22 medallist Akbar landed better shots in the second round and he proved a similar strong performance as the 20-year-old Ukrainian star. Zakharieiev felt that he needed still more in the third round but the English boxer delivered the main sensation of the day with his success and punctual counter-attacks. Zakharieiev won all of his previous five major championships but this time he can bring back home only a bronze while Akbar can fight for the title with Wales’ 21-year-old Garan Croft.

The Round-Up

Georgia’s Sakhil Alakhverdovi achieved a silver medal at the European Games in 2019 and he had a clear plan to get his first elite title. The 23-year-old Georgian worked better in the first round than Poland’s Jakub Slominski and he had the advantage on all of the five scorecards after three minutes. Alakhverdovi was a hard target for the Polish boxer and he landed several effective uppercuts and hooks in the second round. The Georgian overcame Slominski and in the attacks therefore Alakhverdovi had the significant advantage after two rounds. Following their minimumweight (48kg) meeting it is concluded, the first finalist of the entire championship is Sakhil Alakhverdovi of Georgia who will meet for the title Bulgaria’s Ergyunal Sebahtin Sabri.

France’s Billal Bennama was seeded as No.1 at the bantamweight (54kg) following his two bronze medals at the 2019 and 2021 AIBA World Boxing Championships. The 24-year-old French faced Italy’s veteran Manuel Fabrizio Cappai in the semi-finals and he managed the tactical challenges in the first round. Bennama landed the better counter-punches in this semi-final and his defensive skills were world-class once again. The Italian, who has been a member of the elite national team since 2011, switched his stance in the third round but Bennama’s skills were decisive and the French advanced to the final. Bennama’s next opponent is Ireland’s 19-year-old southpaw, Dylan Eagleson who eliminated Bulgaria’s two-time European Champion Daniel Asenov.

Spain’s Jose Quiles achieved a bronze medal at the Kharkiv 2017 EUBC European Boxing Championships and after recovering from his serious injuries, he arrived in Yerevan in good shape. The Spaniard had a perfect tactical job against Ukraine’s former EUBC European Champion Yurii Shestak in the first round and he took the lead on the scorecards. The 25-year-old Quiles had better footwork than the Ukrainian veteran and he landed his counter-shots with perfect timing. The Ukrainian switched into an upgraded tempo in the second round but Quiles was energetic and powerful today to win their contest. The Spaniard used all of the fault of the Ukrainian boxer to land punches and will now meet for the title with Georgia’s Artyush Gomtsyan.

Georgia’s Lasha Guruli was bronze medallist at the Belgrade 2021 AIBA Men’s Elite World Boxing Championships and he was seeded as No.1 at the welterweight (67kg). The former EUBC European U22 Champion Georgian was patient in the attacks in the first round and took the lead on the judges’ scorecards against Wales’ Ioan Croft. The five-years younger Welshman changed his rhythm in the second round but Guruli had the right tactical response in the middle period. The Georgian had the routine to handle the super talented Croft’s attacks in this semi-final and secured his place in the title contest. Guruli’s final opponent will be Serbia’s ex-Russian Vakhid Abbasov who eliminated Moldova’s lone semi-finalist, Alexandru Paraschiv.

Armenia’s first semi-finalist in action was Rafayel Hovhannisyan who eliminated more experienced rivals during his road to the last four at the cruiserweight (86kg). The 21-year-old Armenian had plenty of experience from the junior, youth and U22 age groups but this event is only his second major elite championship. Hovhannisyan landed the better punches in the first round than the taller Polish boxer, Tomasz Niedzwiecki and he had the advantage after three minutes. The Armenian finished the second round with tough hooks and he had the strong fighting spirit today to win their semi-final which means he can box for the gold medal with Georgia’s No.1, Georgiy Kushitashvili.

Spain’s Ayoub Ghadfa Drissi El-Aissaoui and Austria’s Ahmed Hagag are the new promising hopes at the super heavyweight (+92kg). The Spaniard stopped Armenia’s AIBA World Boxing Championships silver medallist Davit Chaloyan in the quarter-final stage and he started the first minute against the EUBC European U22 Champion with a nice combination. Hagag is a quick boxer in this weight class and he had responses from closer distance. The Spanish increased his tempo in the second round and caught Hagag with several left-handed hooks. Both boxers have excellent athletic skills and speed in this amazing semi-final but the Spanish made a fantastic finish to win this contest. Ghadfa will now meet for the title of the heaviest weight class with Germany’s European Games bronze medallist Nelvie Tiafack.

Spain’s Martin Molina and Ukraine’s Dmytro Zamotaev met in the first bout of the evening session to secure a spot in the final of the flyweight (51kg). The Spanish improved a lot in the recent one year and he was confident in the first round of their semi-final landing excellent hooks. Zamotaev increased his speed in the beginning of the second round and moved forward but the smaller Molina was quicker in the exchanges. Zamotaev, who achieved a bronze medal at the Doha 2015 AIBA World Boxing Championships, turned up the heat but Molina was able to win their contest. The Spanish will now meet with England’s Kiaran MacDonald who turned back his semi-final against Italy’s Federico Serra.

Belgium’s Vasile Usturoi made a historic success on the day of the quarter-finals and he claimed his nation’s first guaranteed medal since the 1955 edition. The Belgian used his Cuban style of boxing in the semi-finals of the featherweight (57kg) against Italy’s EUBC European U22 Champion Michele Baldassi. Usturoi was a hard target for the five-years younger Italian and his counter-attacks decided the semi-final. The Belgian was not sufficiently satisfied with the bronze and marched to the finals of the EUBC European Men’s Elite Boxing Championships. The Belgian will be boxing for the gold medal with Armenia’s EUBC European U22 Champion Artur Bazeyan who bowed out Bulgaria’s ex-Cuban Javier Ibanez.

Armenia’s best boxer, Hovhannes Bachkov is EUBC European Champion, European Games winner and three-time AIBA World Boxing Championships bronze medallist. The 30-year-old Armenian caught Hungary’s Richard Kovacs with tough shots in the first round and he ruled the middle of the ring against his counter-attacking opponent. Kovacs was too static in the first round and Bachkov landed several clear punches to take the lead on the scorecards. The Armenian never stopped attacking and his strength decided their semi-final therefore Bachkov could run for his third European title.

Italy’s Alfred Commey achieved a gold medal at the EUBC U22 European Boxing Championships and he had only two losses during his career. The Italian light heavyweight (80kg) boxer is a native talent in our sport and he landed the stronger punches in the first round against Ukraine’s Ivan Sapun. Commey, who joined their national team only a few months ago, was stronger than his taller Ukrainian rival and he had a 20:18 advantage in all of the scorecards after two rounds. After five Italian bronze medals, the southpaw Commey secured his place in the finals and will now meet for the gold with Serbia’s Artjom Agejev.

Italy’s next top boxer, the AIBA World Boxing Championships silver medallist Aziz Abbes Mouhiidine had a taller semi-final opponent, England’s Lewis Williams who was born in the same year as the Italian, in 1998. Despite their same age, Mouhiidine was more experienced in the international stage and caught his English rival with tough punches from longer range. The Italian waited for the best angles and his shots reached the target in all of the three rounds to win their semi-final by large margin of differences. Mouhiidine defeated Spain’s Emmanuel Reyes in the semi-finals of the AIBA World Boxing Championships and the two stars will meet once again tomorrow.

The quotes of the day

“The preparation for this European Boxing Championship went well, I had good sparring sessions with the Cubans and dual matches against the Spanish team. I had to win the first round in this semi-final and after to counter-attack the Italian boxer today. It is exciting that I am in the final of the event,” added France’s experienced Billal Bennama.

“I had injuries on both of my hands in the recent one year and thanks to the hard work of our doctors and physios, I was able to do an effective preparation for this championship. I can’t believe that after these hard months, I am in the final of the competition. My strategy worked well, I had to use my jabs against the attacking Ukrainian boxer today,” said Spain’s Jose Quiles.

“My strategy was the same as in the previous rounds of the championship, I had to keep my opponent on long which is my biggest strength. It is fantastic that I am the third finalist from my country but I am expecting the next fourth very soon,” commented Georgia’s experienced Lasha Guruli.

“My Italian opponent is a fantastic boxer, he is short but a great counter-puncher, strong therefore I had to be careful in the whole semi-final. I had to land single punches in this fight not to stay long in close distance and thanks for my coaches, everything went well as we planned. This is my first elite championship and I worked hard for this success. The job is not finished yet, I want to take the gold medal back to Ireland,” said Ireland’s new middleweight sensation, Gabriel Dossen.

“I felt that I have done enough in the first round but my coaches told me to do more in the second. I gave in everything, shortened on my fighting distance in the second round and I still had power to do my best in the third. I had my respect for my opponent, he was good and strong today,” said Spain’s Ayoub Ghadfa Drissi El-Aissaoui after his tough semi-final.

“My secret is hard work, nothing else. There is a big difference between Martin Molina in 2019 and in 2022, I am more experienced and developed my technical skills. The first round was fantastic today, but I felt I didn’t have enough power in the second. The finish was good once again and I could beat a very experienced rival,” said Spain’s flyweight finalist, Martin Molina.

“The first bout was very difficult for me in this European Boxing Championship but after that the quarter-final and the semi-final contests were relatively easier. I earned a historic medal for Belgium but my target is the top of the podium in this championship. Thanks to my coaches for their hard work and I am ready for the title,” added Belgium’s Vasile Usturoi.

“I am over the moon with this success over the number one who defeated me earlier in a preparation tournament. The first round was far from the best but from the second I could do different rhythm and tempo. I had to wait for this moment for six years as I was always the number 2 behind Pat McCormack but finally I arrived to a European final,” added England’s Mohammed Harris Akbar who defeated Ukraine’s star, Yuriy Zakharieiev.

“The English boxer is a tough opponent and he is probably the tallest participant at the heavyweight. The tactics worked well today and I can prepare for the final in this wonderful arena,” said Italy’s Aziz Abbes Mouhiidine.