Irma Testa and Blagoy Naydenov won their narrow fights in the opening day of the Strandja Memorial Tournament15 February 2019
The 70th anniversary edition of the Strandja Memorial Tournament is Europe’s prestigious international competition which started with its first competition day in Sofia, Bulgaria. The host nation’s former Youth Olympic Games winner Blagoy Naydenov won the bout of the opening day after Italy’s Irma Testa and Turkey’s Mehmet Nadir Unal shined on Day1.
Finally 37 nations sent their boxers to the new Strandja Memorial Tournament and next to the quantity the quality isworld class in Sofia. Altogether 103 women and 193 men boxers are fighting for the medals in the Strandja Memorial Tournament. The total number of 296 boxer means the current Strandja Memorial Tournament is a small World Championships in Sofia once again.
Bout of the day
Bulgaria’s Blagoy Naydenov was AIBA Youth World Champion and Youth Olympic Games winner in 2014 but after a few years of break he regained his place in the national team at the light heavyweight (81kg). The 22-year-old Bulgarian had to meet against a super strong rival Ukraine’s National Champion Stepan Hrekul who claimed gold medal in the EUBC European Confederation U22 Boxing Championships. Both boxers gave in absolutely everything to their preliminary bout which was an early final and a spectacular contest. The final verdict was split decision in the favour of the Bulgarian boxer who advanced to the next stage of the Strandja Memorial Tournament eliminating one of the top rivals in Sofia.
Surprises of the day
Bulgaria’s Zlatislava Chukanova claimed silver medal in the previous edition of the Strandja Memorial Tournament but she is not enough experienced in the international stage as Romania’s Claudia Nechita yet. The Romanian bantamweight (54kg) boxer won several international competitions as the Nations Women’s Cup, the Golden Belt Tournament but she suffered a loss to the younger Bulgarian in the opening day of the event.
Turkey’s Mehmet Nadir Unal was a Rio 2016 Olympian and he attended in the World Series Boxing but he had to meet with Brazil’s super talented Youth Olympic Games winner Keno Marley Machado in the first round of the men’s light heavyweight (81kg). The 26-year-old Turkish boxer was more confident than his Brazilian teenage star rival and delivered another sensational result in the first competition day of the Strandja Memorial Tournament winning the bout by unanimous decision.
Italy’s Rio 2016 Olympian Irma Testa moved back to the featherweight (57kg) which is her best category and used her height to keep the safest distance against Russia’s Maria Sartakova who attended in the New Delhi 2018 AIBA Women’s World Boxing Championships. Testa was slightly better than her Russian rival and advanced to the next round of the Strandja Memorial Tournament but her AIBA Women’s World Champion teammate Alessia Mesiano lost to Australia’s Skye Nicolson in the same category.
Switzerland’s Sandra Brugger claimed silver medal in the 2006 edition of the European Women’s Boxing Championships and she is still boxing in the highest international level. Brugger had to meet with another veteran who was born also in 1981, Bulgaria‘s Denitsa Eliseeva and the Swiss boxer was able to eliminate her. In another key lightweight (60kg) contest Belarus’ Helina Bruyevich was slightly better than Sweden’s AIBA Women’s Youth World Boxing Championships silver medallist Stephanie Thour.
Poland’s Nanjing 2014 Youth Olympic Games winner and AIBA Women’s Youth World Champion Elzbieta Wojcik moved down to the welterweight (69kg) in the recent weeks but she could not acclimatize to this new category yet and suffered a loss to Russia’s Elmira Azizova in Sofia. The final verdict was unanimous decision to the Russian who is aiming for a place in their top team.
Ukraine’s Viktor Petrov had sensational junior and youth career with plenty of medals and titles but he did not reach the same strong results as an elite boxer yet. The 22-year-old Ukrainian moved up to the welterweight (69kg) and started strongly against India‘s Amman 2013 ASBC Asian Confederation Boxing Championships silver medallist Mandeep Jangra. Another European welterweight (69kg) boxer Poland’s Filip Wachala impressed against Brazil‘s Luiz Fernando Da Silva and marched to the next round of the event.