Great Britain’s Benjamin Whittaker is Europe’s finalist at the Tokyo Olympic Games02 August 2021
The ninth competition day at the Tokyo Olympic Games delivered eight successes for the European boxers. Bulgaria, Turkey, Great Britain, Russian Olympic Committee and Ukraine earned the further medals for Europe. Great Britain’s Benjamin Whittaker is the first European finalist in the Games following his success over Imam Khataev.
Altogether 24 European nations could send boxers to the Olympic Games to Japan where the continent have got 92 tough boxers including 33 women. Many of the European female and male boxers are among the medal and title favourites and title contenders in the Tokyo Olympic Games.
The bout of the day
Great Britain’s Benjamin Whittaker joined to the elite national team four years ago and impressed already at the Hamburg 2017 AIBA World Boxing Championships. He had an unexpected loss at the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games and after that he moved up to the light heavyweight (81kg). The currently 24-year-old Whittaker is now stronger in mind while his technical repertoires are one of the bests in the world. The British boxer had a tough quarter-final against Brazil’s Keno Marley Machado and he started a bit slowly against Russian Olympic Committee’s Imam Khataev. The Russian is a smaller but big puncher therefore Whittaker had to change his rhythm in the beginning of the second round. The British star found the best fighting distance and enjoyed the second and third rounds to win their semi-final in Tokyo. Whittaker will be meeting for the gold medal with Cuba’s Olympic Games winner Arlen Lopez.
The surprise of the day
Bulgaria’s Stoyka Krasteva is a veteran boxer who returned to the national team in time to qualify for the Tokyo Olympic Games. The two-time AIBA Women’s World Boxing Championships silver medallist Bulgarian had a hard road in the Tokyo Olympic Games but step by step she eliminated her opponents. Krasteva had experiences from the London 2012 Olympics therefore she was more focused and concentrated this time in Tokyo where she amazed once again in the key quarter-final. Her opponent, China’s Youth Olympic Games winner and Asian Games champion Chang Yuan is 12-years-younger than the Bulgarian but she was named as the main favourite of the women’s flyweight (51kg). Krasteva dictated the tempo in their contest and surprised the Chinese with her powerful jabs which hurt Chang Yuan. The Chinese did not find her best rhythm and Krasteva used up her faults to take the Olympic medal after beating the favourite.
Turkey’s Busenaz Cakiroglu is the defending European Games winner and EUBC European Women’s Champion but she had an unexpected hard battle against Uzbekistan’s Tursunoy Rakhimova in the last 16 of the women’s flyweight (51kg). The Turkish Seed No.1 prepared to her quarter-final better and she was stronger in mind in comparison to her first challenge. Cakiroglu moved more on feet than Thailand’s Jutamas Jitpong and her counter-punches controlled all of the three rounds. The Turkish star boxed this time in her top level and marched to the semi-finals of her strong weight class.
Great Britain’s Pat McCormack eliminated Uzbekistan’s Asian Games winner and two-time ASBC Asian Champion Bobo-Usmon Baturov in a superb quarter-final at the welterweight (69kg) and joined to the last four. The AIBA World Boxing Championships silver medallist McCormack should have been met with Ireland’s Aidan Walsh but his opponent was unable to box in the ninth competition day due to his injury. McCormack advanced to the final of the Olympic Games without a contest and waiting for that fight as a fresh boxer.
Ukraine’s Oleksandr Khyzhniak won all of his contests in the whole Olympic cycle therefore he is the main gold medal contender of the men’s middleweight (75kg). The Ukrainian used his amazing tempo to control the first round against Dominican Republic’s Euri Cedeno but his opponent approved the rhythm. The Ukrainian AIBA World Champion felt that he needs to show more from his skills and landed even more punches in the second round. Khyzhniak had all of the advantages but Cedeno caught him with a head blow in the third round when the Australian referee counted the Ukrainian. Following that unexpected moment, Khyzhniak moved ahead more and demonstrated that he is the better boxer which means the Ukrainian is the guaranteed medallist.
France’s last remaining boxer in the whole Olympic Games is European Games silver medallist Mourad Aliev who met in a re-match with Great Britain’s Frazer Clarke in the last bout of the first session today. The French super heavyweight (+91kg) boxer defeated his 30-year-old tough British rival in the final of the European Olympic Boxing Qualifying Event two months ago but Clarke prepared well to their repeat contest. Both boxers landed tough jabs in the first round and dictated impressive rhythm to take the Olympic medal. The French boxer was disqualified by the US referee in the second round and Frazer Clarke advanced to the semi-finals taking the medal.
Russian Olympic Committee’s Albert Batyrgaziev won the European Olympic Boxing Qualifying Event with impressive performance but he had several difficulties in the first round against Mongolia’s three-time Asian Champion Erdenebat Tsendbaatar. The Mongolian’s perfect weight class is the 60kg but he had to move down to the featherweight (57kg). Tsendbaatar was energetic and powerful in the first round which he controlled from the opening exchanges. The Mongolian was better in the second round and he had a massive advantage before the final period. Batyrgaziev looked outsider after six minutes but he has done the most successful comeback in the whole Olympic Games and turned back their quarter-final with a knock down.
Russian Olympic Committee’s AIBA World Champion Gleb Bakshi had a 19-year-old rival in the quarter-finals of the middleweight (75kg), Haiti’s US-based Darrelle Valsaint. His Caribbean rival was an ideal opponent for Bakshi today, Valsaint has got lack of any international experiences and received the right to attend in Tokyo with a wild card. Despite of the previous chances, Valsaint started better in the first therefore Bakshi had to increase his rhythm in the second. The more experienced Russian regained the control and turned back their quarter-final earning a medal in Tokyo.