Stoyka Krasteva and Busenaz Surmeneli won their tough finals at the Tokyo Olympic Games08 August 2021
Four finals were held in the fourteenth competition day of the Tokyo Olympic Games and among these impressive contests, European boxers involved to all of them. Bulgaria’s Stoyka Krasteva and Turkey’s Busenaz Surmeneli both impressed in the last but one competition day and became Olympic Champions.
Altogether 24 European nations could send boxers to the Olympic Games to Japan where the continent have got 92 tough boxers including 33 women. Among them 19 earned medals after nine competition days and four new boxers joined to them. Russia, Great Britain, Turkey, Ukraine, Ireland, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Italy, Netherlands, Finland and Armenia claimed at least one medal in the Tokyo Olympic Games.
The bout of the day
Great Britain’s Galal Yafai exceeded all of the previous expectations with his performance in the Tokyo Olympic Games where he advanced to the final of the men’s flyweight (52kg). The 29-year-old boxer, who had experiences from the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, met in the final with Philippines’ younger Carlo Paalam. Yafai has done the same strong performance in the first round as in his semi-final against Kazakhstan’s Saken Bibossynov. The referee counted the Filipino boxer in the first round when Yafai surprised his opponent with impressive tempo and landed tough shots. The Filipino changed his rhythm after the first round and moved ahead without any stoppage therefore their final turned into a fight. Paalam opened the second round with several left-handed hooks and felt the tempo better in comparison to the first. Both of them gave in everything in the second and third rounds and have done honest boxing and real fighting. Paalam landed good hooks in the third round but Yafai controlled the exchanges well enough to win the Olympic final. Yafai, who came from a real boxing family, followed his brothers’ pathway and became Great Britain’s first Olympic Champion in the Tokyo Olympic Games.
The surprise of the day
Turkey’s Busenaz Cakiroglu won the Minsk 2019 European Games, the EUBC European Women’s Boxing Championships and the European Olympic Boxing Qualifying Event therefore she was seeded as No.1 in the women’s flyweight (51kg). The 25-year-old Turkish boxer faced with Bulgaria’s veteran Stoyka Krasteva who returned to the national team after a short break. Cakiroglu and Krasteva both tried to follow their own games and strategies in the opening round which delivered fantastic technical performance from both sides. Krasteva knew her strengths and she used up her outstanding tempo feeling in the first round to take the lead after three minutes. The Bulgarian, who claimed two silver medals in the AIBA Women’s World Boxing Championships, used the best weapon against the Turkish star and she had impressive performance in the second round. The Bulgarian was patient in the third round and she felt the tempo and landed her hooks with perfect timing. Krasteva eliminated almost all of the big favourites during her road to the Olympic final and became champion at the women’s flyweight (51kg) taking Bulgaria’s first title. Daniel Petrov claimed Bulgaria’s last Olympic boxing gold in 1996 and Krasteva delivered their next after 25 years of break.
Ukraine’s Oleksandr Khyzhniak did not lose any contests since 2016 and dominated all of his events in the whole Olympic cycle. The Ukrainian middleweight (75kg) boxer is AIBA World Champion, EUBC European Champion and European Games winner therefore he was the Seed No.1 of the category. He had a tough semi-final against Philippines’ Eumir Felix Marcial in the semi-final but Khyzhniak’s great finish was enough to advance to the Olympic final. The Ukrainian started the first round against Brazil’s Hebert Wilian Carvalho Sousa with a nice left-handed hook and began the final in different rhythm. The Brazilian was not able to use his distance and longer reach in the first round and Khyzhniak’s strategy controlled the opening minutes. Khyzhniak combined his tough body shots with head blows and after these efforts, he took the lead on the scorecards. The Ukrainian star launched more than 60 attacks per round and his rhythm was too strong for the younger Brazilian. Sousa and Khyzhniak both used infighting style in the third round and the Ukrainian risked too much in that period. The Brazilian caught him with a left-handed hook and Khyzhniak went down to the floor in the middle of the third round. The Indonesian referee confirmed Sousa’s KO success which was highly unexpected in this final bout.
Turkey’s second finalist in the Tokyo Olympic Games was their defending AIBA Women’s World Champion star Busenaz Surmeneli who received the Seed No.1 position in the Tokyo Olympic Games. She had a hard road to the Olympic final and met with China’s technician three-time ASBC Asian Champion Gu Hong for the gold medal of the women’s welterweight (69kg). The Chinese boxer was taller than her 23-year-old Turkish opponent and used her longer reach well enough in the first round. Gu landed jabs from longer distance and she had the control of the bout in the opening three minutes. Surmeneli moved more ahead in the second when the Argentinean referee gave warning to the tall Chinese boxer and counted also Gu Hong in that period. Following these moments, Surmeneli has done a real comeback to the Olympic final and tried to do her very best in the third round. Surmeneli has done enough to win the title of the weight class and became the first ever Turkish boxer who won an Olympic gold medal in boxing.