The 51st Golden Gong Tournament started in North Macedonia’s capital city, in Skopje which event is holding parallel with the Youth World Boxing Championships. Montenegro’s Petar Marcic won the tightest bout of the first competition day in Skopje where boxers from England, Hungary, Scotland, Kosovo, Sweden, Bulgaria and North Macedonia also won contests.
The President of the Boxing Association of North Macedonia Mr. Primislav Dimovski worked hard with his team to arrange the traditional tournament in Skopje during the Covid-19 period in 2021. The Boris Trajkovski Hall is the venue of the Golden Gong Tournament as in the recent editions and the team delegations can stay in the Hotel Continental Skopje during the international event.
The bout of the day
Montenegro’s Petar Marcic not only represented his nation at the 2021 World Boxing Championships and at the 2022 EUBC European Men’s Elite Boxing Championships but he was a hard opponent for the best boxers as well. The 25-year-old Montenegrin arrived in Skopje as one of the favourites for the gold at the light heavyweight (80kg) but he had a strong rival as first, Scotland’s Alex Arthur. Marcic as all of the boxers from Montenegro has the stamina in the third round to beat strong rivals and his finish guaranteed his place in the next stage of boxing.
England’s Joseph Hamza is a promising boxer at the men’s flyweight (51kg) and he received the right to increase his international experiences in the Golden Gong Tournament. The English boxers are traditionally participating in North Macedonia’s international tournament and Hamza opened his campaign successfully against Scotland’s former World Boxing Championships competitor, Ahmed Aqeel. Following Hamza’s success, Hungary’s National Champion Martin Virban won the next contest in this weight class, he was too strong for Kosovo’s Dren Zarici.
Kosovo’s Bashkim Bajoku had just won the Adem Jashari Memorial Tournament and following that gold medal, he is not resting, participating in his next international competition. The Kosovan bantamweight (54kg) talent had a very difficult bout against Scotland’s Lennon Mulligan, a 20-year-old boxer who landed several nice shots in their meeting. Bajoku, the U22 boxer was slightly better in the decisive last round to win this tight contest in Skopje. Hungary’s Gabor Virban was the next winner in this weight class, he eliminated Sweden’s newcomer Hafiz Mirzai.
Bulgaria’s Javier Ibanez was quarter-finalist at the 2021 World Boxing Championships and the ex-Cuban is one of the best European boxers at the featherweight (57kg). The 26-year-old boxer was too experienced for Hungary’s National Champion Istvan Bundovics and joined the next stage of boxing. North Macedonia’s promising Oran Shakirovski and England’s Jake Dryden were the further winners in this weight class in Skopje.
North Macedonia’s Ilhan Ozmen is a 19-year-old talent who competed in junior and youth tournaments in the previous years. This is his first Golden Gong Tournament and after the strong first round, the second was decisive against Kosovo’s Drilon Arifi at the light welterweight (63.5kg). His teammate and brother, Ajhan Ozmen had also bright expectations in the tournament but Bulgaria’s EUBC U22 European Boxing Championships silver medallist Rami Kiwan was too strong for him at the middleweight (75kg).