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Nine nations into the Finals as ten bouts complete superb penultimate day at 2017 AIBA World Championships

Friday’s ten Semi-Finals saw the gold-medal line-up completed for Saturday evening, with memorable bouts at Flyweight (52kg), Lightweight (60kg), Welterweight (69kg), Light Heavyweight (81kg) and Super Heavyweight (+91kg)

ROUND ONE: On course for four?
The ever-impressive Cuban duo Julio Cesar La Cruz (81kg) and Lazaro Alvarez (60kg) remain on course for their fourth successive World titles. The two have dominated their weight categories since winning golds at Baku 2011, and victory on Saturday would put them on an equal footing with Juan Hernandez Sierra, the second most decorated Cuban boxer of all time behind only the great Felix Savon’s six titles.

ROUND TWO: Time to shine
Both Irish Light Heavyweight (81kg) Joe Ward and Uzbekistan’s Welterweight (69kg) Shakhram Giyasov have recently made it to the finals of the biggest competitions. Two years ago at the World Championships in Doha, Ward lost to Julio Cesar La Cruz to win silver. Last year, Giyasov lost to Kazakhstan’s Daniyar Yeleussinov in the Rio 2016 Olympic Final, and now he too has the chance to win a major gold, against Cuba’s Roniel Iglesias in Hamburg.

ROUND THREE: Back for good
Azerbaijan’s Mahammadrasul Majidov has been here before. World Champion in 2011 and 2013, he did not make it to Doha to defend his Almaty title. Two years on, the 30-year-old is ready to join a select group of boxers to have won three World titles, with the tough challenge of Kazakhstan’s Kamshybek Kunkabayev still standing in his way.

 

DAY SEVEN RECAP
Having reached Friday’s first Semi-Final and guaranteed himself at least a bronze medal, Russia’s experienced Tamir Galanov looked to take his career-best World Championship campaign one crucial step further against Yosbany Veitia. However the Cuban, a silver medallist two years ago, had a clear game-plan for reaching the Flyweight (52kg) gold-medal match as he patiently developed his scoring opportunities, leaving Galanov struggling to contain his opponent.

The victorious Veitia will face Jasurbek Latipov, silver medallist in 2013, after he defeated Korea’s Inkyu Kim in a rematch of the ASBC Championship Final in May. The Uzbek found his range in round two after Kim had looked dangerous early on, and it was Latipov who eventually made it through to Saturday’s Final.

The first of the Lightweight (60kg) semis saw Lazaro Alvarez continue his quest for a fourth straight World title triumph against Georgia’s Otar Eranosyan. After a convincing first round, Alvarez stepped up the pressure in the second and from there the Georgian had no way back. Alvarez now finds himself one win from defending his title for the third time and will meet French Olympic silver medallist Sofiane Oumiha, who emerged victorious from a gruelling bout against Mongolia’s talented Otgondalai Dorjnyambuu.

At Welterweight (69kg), Uzbekistan’s Shakhram Giyasov continued to enjoy his first taste of World Championship action as he held off the robust and relentless advances of Kazakhstan’s Ablaikhan Zhussupov to reach the final. He’ll meet former Olympic Champion Roniel Iglesias after he overcame Germany’s last remaining boxer in the competition, Abass Baraou.

Julio Cesar La Cruz and Carlos Mina spent the first three minutes of their Light Heavyweight (81kg) bout determined to deny each other scoring opportunities. With neither boxing committing early on, even as Mina launched some explosive late attacks it was the greater accuracy of La Cruz that won out. Before the competition, Ireland’s Joe Ward would have certainly been eyeing up a chance to avenge defeat in the gold-medal match against La Cruz two years ago in Doha, but Bektemir Melikuziev was undoubtedly his biggest challenge so far in Hamburg. The Uzbek looked strong in the early stages, but Ward stuck to his task and summoned up a huge final three minutes that mean he will now go for gold on Saturday.

Cameroon’s Arsene Fokou had enjoyed his debut World Championship campaign, but with Super Heavyweight (+91kg) bronze assured, he was unable to produce the early explosive punches that had successfully seen him into the last four. Kazakhstan’s Kamshybek Kunkabayev simply proved too strong for the Cameroonian, and he will now go up against Azerbaijan’s Mahammadrasul Majidov, after he survived a late rally from Australian Joe Goodall to book his place in the Final.

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