Russia earned nine gold medals at the Pula 2004 European Boxing Championships which was a Qualifier for the Athens Olympics31 August 2020
The 35th edition of the European Boxing Championships was held in Pula, Croatia which was the most important qualification event for the Athens 2004 Olympic Games. Six of the titleholders defended their European thrones in Pula which was the first elite continental event in Croatia.
The management of the European Amateur Boxing Association (EABA) returned to the open system in the Perm 2002 European Boxing Championships and there was not any pre-qualification also for the Pula 2004 edition. The number of the weight categories have been reduced from 12 to 11 due the less divisions in the Olympic Games.
The first competition day of the 2004 European Boxing Championships was February 19 in Pula while the finals were held on February 29. A rest day was held in the event after the semi-finals on February 28. The best 44 boxers have qualified for the Athens 2004 Olympic Games, all of the medallists in Pula received the spots. The next four European qualification events were held in Bulgaria, in Poland, in Sweden and in Azerbaijan.
The total number of the boxers was 292 in the Pula 2004 European Boxing Championships where the participants could compete in 11 weight classes. There were two rounds of preliminaries in all of the 11 weight classes from the light flyweight (48kg) up to the super heavyweight (+91kg) in the Pula 2004 European Boxing Championships.
The following 41 nations attended in the 2004 European Boxing Championships in Croatia: Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Cyprus, Denmark, England, Estonia, Finland, France, F.Y.R. of Macedonia, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, Russia, Scotland, Serbia & Montenegro, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine and Wales.
Bulgaria, Croatia, France, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Romania, Russia and Turkey attended with maximum number of 11 boxers in the Pula 2004 European Boxing Championships. Azerbaijan and Ukraine sent 10 boxers to the Croatian city and both nations missed to attend at the super heavyweight (+91kg). The Belarusians and the Germans also attended with 10 boxers in Pula while the formerly known Yugoslavia competed under the name of Serbia & Montenegro.
Russia won 9 out of the 12 gold medals in the Perm 2002 European Boxing Championships and their boxers were fantastic once again two years later. The Russians achieved 9 titles among the available 11 and only the Germans and the Bulgarians were able to get one gold medals in Pula.
France, Italy, Ukraine, host Croatia, Turkey, Georgia, Belarus, Poland, Azerbaijan, Hungary, Lithuania and Ireland were also on the medal table in the Pula 2004 European Boxing Championships. Fifteen nations shared the medals and all of them qualified boxers to the Athens 2004 Olympic Games. The host Croatians claimed one silver and one bronze medal on home soil which proved that strong developments.
Russia’s Sergey Kazakov achieved gold medals at the Minsk 1998 and the Perm 2002 editions therefore the experienced boxer was the favourite for the gold at the light flyweight (48kg). The 28-year-old boxer eliminated Hungary’s super talented European Junior Champion ten-years younger Pal Bedak in the semi-finals and continued his winning path against Italy’s Alfonso Pinto.
The second Russian gold medal was achieved by Georgiy Balakshin who defended also his throne as Kazakov. He bowed out his main rival France’s Jerome Thomas in the quarter-finals and following that he was too strong also for Germany’s ex-Tajik boxer Rustam Rahimov and Georgia’s Nikoloz Izoria. The third Russian gold was delivered by Gennadiy Kovalev who changed his 2002 silver into a title two years later after beating France’s Ali Hallab in the final of the bantamweight (54kg).
Germany’s Vitali Tajbert won the gold medal at the Budapest 2000 AIBA Junior World Boxing Championships and four years later at the age of 22, he arrived to the top of the European podium at the featherweight (57kg). The German boxer controlled all of his fights including the difficult one in the quarter-finals against Romania’s Viorel Simion. Tajbert stopped France’s Khedafi Djelkhir in the final while another favourite Russia’s titleholder Raimkul Malakhbekov lost his preliminary battle in Pula.
Russia’s AIBA World Champion Aleksandr Maletin and Bulgaria’s Dimitar Stilianov both won gold medals at the Perm 2002 European Boxing Championships. Maletin moved up one category therefore Stilianov decided to change back to the lightweight (60kg). The Bulgarian was slightly better than Hungary’s Gyula Kate and Turkey’s Selcuk Aydin therefore he celebrated his second European gold in Pula. Maletin also defended his European title as Stilianov following he walked over to the gold due Ukraine’s Ihor Pashchuk was unable to box against him in the final.
Russia’s two-time Olympic Champion Oleg Saitov missed the Perm 2002 European Boxing Championships but he returned to the world of the sport in time to win his next continental event in Pula. Saitov had a key semi-final against Azerbaijan’s Ruslan Khairov and following that success, he was able to beat also France’s third finalist in Pula, Xavier Noel in the new welterweight (69kg).
Russia’s Olympic Games silver medallist Gaydarbek Gaydarbekov defeated such top rivals as Ukraine’s European Champion Oleh Mashkin, Romania’s AIBA World Champion Marian Simion and Germany’s Lukas Wilaschek therefore he not only received the gold of the middleweight (75kg) but the Best Boxer Award in Pula. Russia’s Evgeniy Makarenko moved back to the light heavyweight (81kg) but remained on the top following his success over Croatia’s powerful Mario Sivolija.
Aleksandr Alekseyev was born in Uzbekistan but he represented Russia at the Pula 2004 European Boxing Championships. The Russian heavyweight (91kg) boxer stopped his last three opponents in Pula such as Azerbaijan’s Vugar Alakbarov, Croatia’s Vedran Djipalo and Belarus’ Viktar Zuyeu therefore he deserved the title of the category. Following the Lezin era at the super heavyweight (+91kg), another Russian boxer Aleksandr Povetkin won the title of the king category in 2002 and in 2004. The AIBA World Champion Russian was slightly better than Italy’s second finalist Roberto Cammarelle in an exciting battle.
List of the winners in the 2004 European Boxing Championships
- Light flyweight (48kg): Sergey Kazakov, Russia
- Flyweight (51kg): Georgiy Balakshin, Russia
- Bantamweight (54kg): Gennadiy Kovalev, Russia
- Featherweight (57kg): Vitali Tajbert, Germany (in featured image)
- Lightweight (60kg): Dimitar Stilianov, Bulgaria
- Light welterweight (64kg): Aleksandr Maletin, Russia
- Welterweight (69kg): Oleg Saitov, Russia
- Middleweight (75kg): Gaydarbek Gaydarbekov, Russia
- Light heavyweight (81kg): Evgeniy Makarenko, Russia
- Heavyweight (91kg): Aleksandr Alekseyev, Russia
- Super Heavyweight (+91kg): Aleksandr Povetkin, Russia