Twenty-nine bouts took place at Le Grand Dome today during day 3 of the Boxing Road to Tokyo European Qualifier in Paris. The best boxers of the continent competed in the Women’s Feather (54-57kg) and Welter (64-69kg) weight classes and in the Men’s Feather (52-57kg), Light (57-63kg), Welter (63-69kg), Middle (69-75kg), Heavy (81-91kg) and Super Heavy (+91kg) events.
Twenty (20) Tokyo 2020 quota places were at stake. The Women’s Feather (54-57kg) event assigned the first four at the beginning of the afternoon sessions. Irma Testa of Italy beat Croatia’s Nikolina Cacic in the very first bout of the day with a landslide unanimous decision. The Italian showed great potential, leaving few chances for her opponent throughout the three rounds.
In the same weight category, Bulgaria’s Stanimira Petrova beat Great Britain’s Karriss Artingstall by split decision, claiming a quota place and advancing to the semi-final. There, she will meet Michaela Walsh of Ireland, who outdid Sweden’s Stephanie Thour to qualify for Tokyo. Petrova (#3 seed) and Walsh (#2 seed) set up a thrilling semi-final, which will give us a glimpse of what could happen at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games in less than 50 days.
Michaela’s brother, Aidan Walsh, qualified for Tokyo minutes after his sister. Competing in the Men’s Welter (63-69kg) weight class, he had to fight hard to overcome Ukraine’s Yevheni Barbanov in a 3-2 split decision, before claiming the slot.
Michaela said: “I was more nervous for his fight than my fight. There was a sense of relief when I qualified, but it means more for me to have my baby brother qualifying than myself. There was a lot of pressure today, but I felt we dealt with it really well. The only way is up now, we are in this tournament to go all the way.”
Aidan Walsh added: “We want to go as far we can in this competition and win it, just keep getting the wins before the Olympics. I want to say thank you to Team Ireland. Last year, when I was national champion, they picked me to go away to the major competition, and they believed in me when I wasn’t even #1 in Ireland. Since then, I have just progressed massively. I became #1, went to all the major tournaments, done well and come here and qualified for the Olympic Games. This time two years ago I was ready to pack boxing in. There were a lot of things going on behind the scenes, but I stuck it out, the coaches believed in me, my family believed in me, my girlfriend believed in me and my club coaches, who are both here now.”
Another family affair unfolded in the Welter class, as Great Britain’s Pat McCormack secured his pass to Tokyo, one day after his brother Luke did the same in the Lightweight event. Pat did not delude the expectations of his fans, following the match broadcasted on BBC. He went through the rounds in his own style, boxing with extreme confidence to outscore Georgia’s Eskerkhan Madiev by unanimous decision. Up next, on the road to Paris’ podium, he will meet the Aiden Walsh.
The second 69kg semi-final will see Russia’s Andrei Zamkovi (seed #2) meeting Azerbaijan’s Lorenzo Collazo Sotomayor (seed #3), who both claimed an Olympic quota today.
Three out of the top-four seeded boxers in the Men’s Middle (69-75kg) weight class advanced to the semi-final today, all gaining a ticket to Tokyo. Andrej Csemez of Slovakia (seed #4) won a very technical bout against Lancelot Proton de La Chapelle of Belgium. After studying and measuring his opponents throughout the first two rounds, the Slovak expert finished the job with a breath-taking assault in the third and last round, moving forward on his road to Tokyo with a unanimous decision. In the semi-final, he will meet seed #1 Gleb Bakshi of Russia, who also claimed an Olympic quota today, as his opponent Vitali Bandarenka abandoned. Second-seeded Oleksandr Khyzhniak of Ukraine also made it through his quarterfinal, as Adam Chartoi of Sweden was disqualified. He is now up for a match against Armenia’s Arman Darchinyan, the fourth boxer who qualified today.
The top-ranked Heavyweight boxer competing here, Russia’s Muslim Gadzhimagomedov, confirmed to be one of the favourites in the race for Tokyo’s medals. Today, he made it through a tense 81-91kg quarterfinal against Italy’s Aziz Abbes Mouhiidine. Muslim won the first round, losing then to the Italian in the second, as Mouhiidine engaged him with a furious series of punches. Gadzhimagomedov eventually managed to regain control of the ring in the third round, winning by split decision. In the semi-finals, he will face Ammar Abdullabbar of Germany, who produced an outstanding performance today, beating Uladzislau Smiahlikau (seed #4) of Belarus by unanimous decision. Emmanuel Reyes Pla of Spain and Cheavon Clarke of Great Britain will meet in the second semi-final.
The sparring partner of Olympic champion Anthony Joshua, Frazer Clarke of Great Britain, had to fight hard to fulfil his dream to qualify for the Games, but he finally made it today after beating Turkey’s Berat Acar by unanimous decision, in their Super Heavyweight (+91kg) quarterfinal. In the semi-final, he will go up against Ivan Veriasov of Russia, who overscored Petar Belberov of Bulgaria to qualify for the Games and to advance in the competition. France’s Olympic hope, Mourad Aliev, will go against Azerbaijan’s Mahammad Abdullayev.
The European Qualifier continues tomorrow: follow the action live!
The Boxing Road to Tokyo European Qualifier continues in Paris, tomorrow (7 June). Fans can watch the action live on the Olympic Channel, with all the women’s and men’s bouts across all weight categories available with commentary in English and Spanish. Coverage is available in all territories worldwide free of charge at olympicchannel.com and on its apps for mobile and connected TV devices.
News, photos and results will be posted online on the dedicated Paris Qualifier page of the Athlete365 Boxing Corner website. We encourage fans to join the conversation online using the hashtag #Boxing.