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The Russians Are Coming... Who can stop them in Korea?
by Michael O'Neill
November 20, 2014


(NOV 20) Not for the first time the mighty Russians have proved to be a 'powerhouse' in women's boxing with all of their team through to the quarter finals following another hectic day's boxing in Jeju City. Who can halt their progress tomorrow?

There were many stars at today's fifth day of the AIBA Women's Elite Championships at the Halla Gymnasium, none more so than Russian pair, Anastasia Beliakova (64) kg and Iaraslava Lakushina  (75kg).

That said there were other outstanding performances too, among them the continued progress of Great Britain's Sandy Ryan (64kg), Australia's Shelley Watts (60kg) and in that crowded weight category too those long time 'friends and foes' Sofya Ochigava and Katie Taylor.

Let's not forget French titleholder Estelle Mossely (60kg also) nor for that matter another superb exhibition from Russia's Elena Savelyeva (54kg) . One could go on and on such were the high standards achieved on this last 16 day in the Halla Gymnasium.

Star of the day? Certainly one of three Russians but which?

Choose from Beliakova, Iakushina or Savelyeva. You will see later what the AIBA team thought but for your correspondent today it was the 21 years old Laroalava Lakushina who defeated the reigning 75kg World champion, England's Savannah Marshall, and now meets Claressa Shields tomorrow. What a bout in store for those in Jeju or viewing via AIBA.org

The other high profile bout tomorrow is the repeat of the Olympic final (60kg) between Katie Taylor and Sofya Ochigava. With the emergence of Beliakova this may be a final opportunity for Ochigava to impress the Russian management, or can Taylor do as on previous occasions and take a fifth in a row World title?

Taylor won today against Finland's Mira Potkonen who so often gets near winning a medal on the biggest stage of all, so near and yet so far. Taylor summed up later:

“It was a tough four rounds. It was always going to be a hard fought battle, I knew she was going to rush me right from the start, said Taylor.

“The first thirty seconds of the second round was a complete war, I should have moved more,obviously. But I love standing toe-to-toe as well. I love boxing against the top boxers in the world. These are the fights I train for and I’m ready for action.”

So who will win this time? And who will emerge victorious between Claressa Shields (United States) and Iaroslava Iakushina? Another 'battle royal' can be expected here. Who do you think? Shields or Iakushina? Ochigava or Taylor? Your thoughts welcome as always via wban100@aol.com or @wbanbuzz or Facebook

If you are not able to watch the bouts live or via AIBA.org, join us here tomorrow for all the answers from Friday's program. Now over to our AIBA friends for their thoughts on Thursday in Jeju..

AIBA reports from Jeju:
"The top eighty boxers remain in the 8th edition of the AIBA Women’s World Boxing Championships in Jeju, where the preliminary stage of the competition has now finished.

On a day of high quality, world class stars including Ireland's Katie Taylor, Russia's Sofya Ochigava and America’s Claressa Shields won their bouts, but England's Savannah Marshall surprisingly lost to Russia's Iaroslava Iakushina in Jeju.

The Russian delegation provided an incredible performance during the preliminaries, as all of their athletes have advanced to the quarter-finals.

Bout of the day

France’s Estelle Mossely became known in the world of boxing in 2010 when she claimed the gold medal at the European Union Women’s Championships in Keszthely, Hungary at the age of 18.

The young French Lightweight class (60 kg) boxer secured a silver medal at the EUBC European Women’s Continental Championships in Bucharest this June, where she defeated Russia’s Sofya Ochigava in the semi-finals.

Mossely had to meet with Vietnam’s AIBA Women’s Youth World Championships silver medallist Luu Thi Duyen on Day 5 in Jeju, who won a bronze medal at the Incheon 2014 Asian Games in Korea six weeks ago.

The tall Southeast Asian boxer was victorious in her opening bout in Jeju against New Zealand's London 2012 Olympian Alexis Todd-Pritchard, and again impressed on the fith day of action despite losing.

France’s star boxer tried to use her best tactics to take the lead, but Luu opened the fight with solid work from long range.

As the engaging fight progressed, Mossely's physical condition was the difference between them, with the final verdict a unanimous decision win for to the French athlete.

Team of the day

Azerbaijan has built up a strong women’s squad over the past few year, and two of their athletes who stepped in the ring on Day 5 were able to join their teammate Elena Vystropova in advancing through to the quarter-finals.

Their Bantamweight class (54 kg) number one Anna Alimardanova has been competing at the international level since 2009, and her experience helped her defeat Ireland's Commonwealth Games silver medallist Michaela Walsh.

Azerbaijan's Lightweight class (60 kg) athlete Yana Alekseevna was born in Ukraine, but she has been fighting for Azerbaijan since 2013, and has won various international tournaments over the past 12 months.

The 27-year-old boxer had to meet with Ukraine's experienced Iulia Tsyplakova in the second preliminary round, and controlled the bout in the first three rounds.

Although Alekseevna tired in the last round, her excellent beginning to the contest was enough for her to win the fight.

Surprises of the day

Indonesia's Aldriani Suguro is competing in her first ever AIBA event, following her gold medal in the Indonesian Vice-President's Cup, and a silver medal at the Southeast Asian Games in Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar one year ago.

She began her competition in Jeju with much success, but her next rival was a favourite of the division, US boxer, Alexandra Love.

The Indonesian youngster boxed cleverly against her decorated opponent, exploiting tiny holes in Love's defense.

America’s medal hope did not give up the battle after the opening round, and worked hard for the entire duration of the bout, but it was Suguro who was more energetic in the final frame, and she was able to eliminate the strong US boxer in Jeju.

England's EUBC European Women's Youth Continental Championships silver medallist Sandy Ryan received the right to fight for her nation for the very first time in Jeju, and the 21-year-old Light Welterweight class (64 kg) boxer won her final preparation event, the Queen's Cup in Stralsund, Germany last month.

Following her impressive success over Hungary's European Union Champion Bianka Nagy, she continued to impress against her star opponent, Turkey's two-time AIBA Women's World Champion Gulsum Tatar Kaptan.

Ryan consistently stopped the attacks of the Turkish southpaw, and comfortably won the bout.

Russia's AIBA Women's Youth World Champion Iaroslava Iakushina lost to England's defending AIBA Women's World Champion Savannah Marshall in the semi-final of the Sportaccord World Combat Games in St. Petersburg one year ago, but the 21-year-old Russian Middleweight class (75 kg) boxer has clearly learnt from that, and avenged that defeat in these Championships.

Iakushina reduced the fighting distance superbly, and put constant pressure on Marshall who was unable to showcase her usually excellent jab.

After four pulsating rounds, the Russian boxer was able to eliminate the defending champion in Jeju.

Ones to watch

China’s AIBA Women’s World Championships silver medallist Xu Shiqi had to be at her very best to beat Bulgaria's strong Sevda Asenova in the first preliminary round, but her second opponent was Romania’s defending EUBC European Women’s Continental Champion Steluta Duta, an even more daunting European.

Although Xu was dynamic throughout the contest, Duta was always better, and eliminated the former AIBA Women’s World Boxing Championships finalist.

Russia’s AIBA Women’s World Champion and EUBC European Women’s Continental Champion Elena Savelyeva is one of the most experienced boxers of the Bantamweight class (54 kg), and after her amazing performance against Chinese Taipei's Gao Yu Min, she was confident against Zambia’s ‘AIBA Road to Jeju Program’ member Sally Mumba as well.

Savelyeva knocked down her inexperienced rival in the opening round, and after she did the same twice in the second frame, the referee stopped their unequal contest after three and a half minutes of combat.

Ireland’s London 2012 Olympic Champion and four-time AIBA Women’s World Champion Katie Taylor met with Finland’s best woman boxer Mira Potkonen, and dominated her opponent with majestic footwork and excellent timing, and the Lightweight class (60 kg) legend is looking better than ever.

Stat/Fact of the day

After five days of preliminaries, the following nations have athletes left in the last eight, and the chance to possibly medal in Jeju.

- Russia: 10 boxers

- China: 7 boxers

- United States of America: 6 boxers

- Turkey: 5 boxers

- India, Italy: 4 boxers

- Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, France, Kazakhstan, Romania, Ukraine: 3 boxers

- Canada, Chinese Taipei, Croatia, England, Hungary, Korea, Thailand: 2 boxers

- Australia, Brazil, Czech Republic, Indonesia, Ireland, Japan, Lithuania, Morocco, Netherlands, Panama, Philippines, Poland: 1 boxer

Quotes of the day

"I had much better preparation prior to the 8th edition of the AIBA Women's World Boxing Championships than ever before. I am much more mature and experienced in comparison to my previous appearances in the major tournaments, and I would like to take one bout at a time, to concentrate only to the next further step and I hope I will be able to win at least a medal in this prestigious championships in Jeju," commented Chinese Taipei's Pin Meng Chieh who eliminated Italy's veteran Valeria Calabrese in the Light Flyweight class (48 kg).

"We had watched my opponent's previous bout yesterday and knew she was a mover, who did not like staying in range or in long exchanges, so our tactic was to close the distance down and attack her body and finish to her head with fast exchanges. She got away from me a few times but once I found my range, I felt comfortable. I felt good, and not as tired as the first bout, so I had definitely blown the cobwebs out from my rest since the Commonwealth Games.

“Back in the ring tomorrow against Azerbaijan's Yana Alekseevna, I am keen and determined. I set myself a series of goals in January and for this World Championships, and one of them was winning three bouts so I am looking at staying positive to tick another goal off my list," added Australia's Commonwealth Games winner Shelley Watts who eliminated Kazakhstan's Gulzhaina Ubbiniyazova.

Tomorrow's program

One of the most important sessions, the quarter-finals will be held on the sixth competition day of the AIBA Women's World Boxing Championships in Jeju, Korea on Friday.

Ireland's national icon Katie Taylor and Russia's two-time AIBA Women's World Champion Sofya Ochigava hve to meet with each other in the quarter-finals, with the Lightweight class (60 kg) rivals looking to earn a medal.

Today's results from Strefa: http://amateur-boxing.strefa.pl/Championships/World_wom_Champs2014.html

Tomorrow's program: http://www.iaba.ie/site3/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/C58D1121.pdf

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