Netherlands’ 19-year-old Chelsey Heijnen advanced to the finals of the Strandja Memorial Tournament19 February 2019
Following two marathon competition days the semi-finals were held for the women’s and men’s elite boxers in the 70th Strandja Memorial Tournament in the Bulgarian capital. The winners are now finalists and remained their chance alive to take the title of the Strandja Memorial Tournament. Bulgaria’s strong duo Daniel Asenov and Stanimira Petrova continued their winning path but Netherlands’ Chelsey Heijnen was also strong enough on Day5.
Finally 37 nations sent their boxers to the new Strandja Memorial Tournament and next to the quantity the quality is world 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 best male boxer two-time EUBC European Champion Daniel Asenov used the recent months to prepare to the main goals of 2019 which will be an important year for the host country’s pride. The Strandja Memorial Tournament is his first big event this year and he looked fresh and energetic in Sofia. Asenov bowed out France’s EUBC European Youth Champion Billal Bennama in the quarter-finals of the men’s flyweight (52kg) and he worked also well against Brazil’s new sensation Douglas De Andrade. His South American rival was a competitive one and the Bulgarian had to do his very best to win this difficult semi-final. Asenov’s main rival Ukraine’s Doha 2015 AIBA World Boxing Championships bronze medallist Dmytro Zamotayev lost to Uzbekistan’s 19-year-old Khudoynazar Fayzov therefore the Bulgarian will be meeting against the Central Asian in the day of the finals.
Surprise of the day
Netherlands’ EUBC European Youth Champion Chelsey Heijnen is only 19 and the Strandja Memorial Tournament is her last competition before the EUBC European Confederation U22 Boxing Championships. The Dutch teenager, who claimed her European title in the Bulgarian capital one and half year ago, moved ahead against Russia’s Irina Avtina and tried to use her strengths. The Russian boxer has been attending in the international events since 2013 and had more experiences than Heijnen. In spite of Avtina’s level the Dutch boxer’s strong stamina decided their narrow fight in Sofia. Heijnen’s final opponent will be Baku 2015 European Games silver medallist Valentina Alberti who worked well against India’s Pwilao Basumatary.
Bulgaria’s two-time EUBC European Women’s Champion and Jeju 2014 AIBA Women’s World Champion Stanimira Petrova had to meet with her main European rival Italy’s Irma Testa in the semi-final of the featherweight (57kg). In the battle of the Rio 2016 Olympians the Bulgarian used her distance effectively and advanced to the final. Her last rival will be Romania’s Lacramioara Perijoc who walked over to the final following her opponent United States’ Yarisel Ramirez was unable to box against her.
Sweden’s 22-year-old Agnes Alexiusson was quarter-finalist in the New Delhi 2018 AIBA Women’s World Boxing Championships three months ago and felt the tempo well enough against an Indian boxer Neeraj who is their new National Champion at the lightweight (60kg). Alexiusson gave in everything and she was slightly better than her Asian rival which means she can fight in the final against the favourite Brazil’s two-time AMBC American Women’s Champion Beatriz Ferreira.
Sweden’s Love Holgersson claimed gold medal in the Antalya 2011 AIBA Women’s Youth World Boxing Championships but 2019 could be her real breakthrough in the elite level. Holgersson, who had to wait for their icon Anna Laurell’s retirement in 2016 to involve to the elite squad, was taller than her US rival Morelle McCane and she used it up as a weapon. The 25-year-old Swedish boxer landed more jabs and stopped the US attacks with her powerful jabs therefore Holgersson’s hand was raised after the final bell. The Swedish hope will be facing for the title with another US boxer, their No.1 in this weight class, Naomi Graham.
Ukraine’s defending AIBA World Boxing Champion and current EUBC European Champion Oleksandr Khyzhniak did not attend as many events in 2018 as in the recent years and he used the recent months to build up all aspects of boxing to be the best one in 2019. The Ukrainian middleweight (75kg) boxer will be turning only to 24 later this year but he is the biggest name in his category. Khyzhniak did not underestimate his semi-final rival Philippines’ ASBC Asian Confederation Boxing Championships silver medallist Eumir Felix Marcial and controlled the first round. The Moldovan referee warned the Filipino boxer and finally disqualified him in the third round which means Khyzhniak will be facing with Turkey’s Serhat Guler in the final.