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Ten nations won the first 13 titles in the EUBC Youth European Boxing Championships

Turkey, France, Germany, Italy, Ukraine, Ireland, Azerbaijan, England, Armenia, and Bulgaria earned the first thirteen gold medals in the afternoon session of the EUBC Youth European Boxing Championships in Sofia, Bulgaria.

England’s Enriko Itauma won his third European title in Sofia following his quick success at the super heavyweight (+92kg). Armenia’s Erik Israyelyan, Ukraine’s Oleksiy Boklakh, France’s Kaelya Mopin and Germany’s Asya Ari both made wonderful performance in the first part of the finals.

The finals to be continued with the evening session in the Bulgarian capital and will be starting at 17:00 local time.

The bout of the session

England’s Lauren Mackie had a hard road to the final of the women’s flyweight (52kg) but she managed all of these challenges in Sofia. The English girls returned to the international stage after two years of break but their boxers had strong preparations in these period and spent the time to fix the previous faults and issues. Mackie had to meet with France’s Kaelya Mopin who joined back to the waves of the competitions last November. The English boxer tried to catch her French rival but she was on road in most of the exchanges and Mopin overcome her. The 18-year-old French boxer had brilliant performance and delivered her best in the day of the finals to achieve her career highlight.

The surprise of the session

Azerbaijan arrived to the EUBC Youth European Boxing Championships with world-class boxers in the smallest weight categories. Their Kanan Babayev eliminated Ireland’s virtuoso Thady Joyce in the semi-finals of the men’s minimumweight (48kg) and he prepared well to his final bout. The Azeri southpaw faced with Poland’s Nikolas Pawlik who eliminated Brasov Youth Tournament winner Csaba Zsigo of Hungary and Spain’s Asier Jimenez in the previous stages. Pawlik has a wonderful footwork but he was not able to handle Babayev’s speed in the first round of their final. The Azeri boxer was more active than his Polish opponent and bagged the first title of the entire championships.

The Round-Up of the session

Armenia’s Erik Israyelyan eliminated his main rival, Georgia’s Gocha Gordulava in the semi-finals of the men’s lightweight (60kg) which is the strongest category in this championship. The Armenian boxer stopped three rivals and eliminated Gordulava by unanimous decision. Israyelyan faced for the title with Bulgaria’s Toni Iliev who had a hectic bout against Greece’s Stefanos Oikonomou in the last four. The Bulgarian boxer was patient and waited for the best attacking moments in the first round and tried to slow down his Armenian opponent. Iliev had a few nice hooks but Israyelyan turned up the heat and caught the local boxer with amazing punches in the end of the second round. The referee counted the Bulgarian lightweight (60kg) boxer after those serious body shots but Iliev could continue their final bout. Iliev had critical moments in the third round too therefore Israyelyan won their title contest in Sofia.

Armenia’s second finalist in the EUBC Youth European Boxing Championships was Ares Hakobyan who eliminated Spain’s second semi-finalist, Ganda Coulibaly Socko in the last four at the men’s welterweight (67kg). The Armenian had a strong rival in the final, Ukraine’s No.1, Oleksiy Boklakh who had excellent triumphs in the road to the title contest. Hakobyan was taller than his Armenian opponent but he moved ahead more in this final contest and stepped into the best fighting range of the Ukrainian boxer. Boklakh had the speed advantage and all of the experiences to win this final bout in the Bulgarian capital.

Ukraine’s EUBC European Junior Champion Oleksandr Balabin had a tough job in the semi-finals against France’s new sensation at the men’s middleweight (75kg), Yojerlin Cesar who achieved silver medal at the 2020 EUBC Junior European Boxing Championships. Balabin managed to twin their crucial contest and met for the title with Serbia’s promising Rastko Simic. The Serbian is the tallest boxer of this weight category and he surprised Balabin in the first exchanges, landed effective jabs. The Ukrainian tried to reduce the fighting distance and he looked quicker in the second round but Simic is a very difficult opponent for all of the stars. The Serbian landed effective counter-punches but Balabin’s hard work was enough to win the title contest in Sofia.

England’s EUBC European Schoolboys Champion and EUBC European Junior Champion Enriko Itauma is one of the biggest names of the whole event and he dictated the tempo from the first seconds against Bulgaria’s fourth finalist, Kiril Borisov. The English super heavyweight (+92kg) boxer spent short time in the ring once again and he knocked down his Bulgarian rival. Itauma’s serious body shot was not only decisive but Borisov went down to the floor and he could not continue the final which means the English boy is three-time European Champion now.

Turkey’s Filiz Isik who eliminated Ireland’s Georgia Dunn with wonderful performance in the semi-finals of the women’s minimumweight (48kg). The Turkish girl faced for the title with Spain’s Laura Barcelo who claimed bronze medal in the 2021 EUBC Youth European Boxing Championships in Budva. The Spaniard was not enough quick in the first round and received a few tough shots from the Turkish side. Isik landed multiple shots and she had excellent footwork to follow her well-built strategy against the Spanish talent. The Boxam Youth Tournament winner Barcelo lost the control of this contest and she was not enough brave after two rounds. Isik’s speed decided their final bout which delivered a clear Turkish success, the first title for their nation in Sofia.  

Germany’s Asya Ari switched from other sport to boxing and she had only 10 contests before the start of the championship. Ari has excellent mental skills and she trained professionally in the recent months to show her very best in the EUBC Youth European Boxing Championships. The German featherweight (57kg) boxer was better in the first round than Latvia’s Laura Mara Jakovleva and she knew what to do against her Baltic rival. She started the second round with big punches and demonstrated all of her combinations in their final bout. The German boxer celebrated her 18th birthday with a gold medal in her first major championships.

Italy’s Valentina Marra arrived to the venue of the EUBC Youth European Boxing Championships as the main favourite of the light welterweight (63kg). The Italian had amazing campaign in this championship and marched to the finals with outstanding performance. Marra faced in the final with Germany’s Lutfiye Tutal which was shorten than anyone expected in this bout. The Italian caught her German rival with amazing shots and the referee confirmed Marra’s RSC success still in the first round.

Ireland’s next female finalist after Laura Moran was Dearbhla Tinnelly, the second in the afternoon session. Tinnelly claimed silver medal at the at the 2018 EUBC European Schoolgirls Boxing Championships and she looked highly confident in the semi-finals against Norway’s favourite Sofia Sigen Sorensen. The Irish was 10cm taller than Ukraine’s Karine Airapetian in the final of the light heavyweight (81kg) and her will controlled their bout. Tinnelly not only the best talent in this weight class in the European continent but she is the main gold medal contender in the upcoming IBA Women’s World Boxing Championships too. The Irish boxer used her best combinations to win their final contest and she could keep the long distance today.

The quote of the session

“This is the best moment in my boxing career after so many hard work. I could not box between March 2020 and November 2021 but I used this period to develop all of my skills so without contests, I could keep the focus only on the trainings and increase my boxing knowledge. I moved a lot in this final and tried to land my punches from the best angles. My next event is the ISF Gymnasiade which will be held in my homeland,” commented her gold medal France’s Kaelya Mopin.