BOXING Preview: AIBA World Champs underway in Ekaterinburg, with 365 fighters and no Olympic qualification

One of the stranger editions of the AIBA World Championships has begun in Ekaterinburg (RUS), with 365 fighters – the most in six years – from 78 nations vying for the title of World Champion, but without any impact on the 2020 Olympic tournament.

Under normal circumstances, winning a medal at the Worlds a year prior to the Games would mean a spot in the Olympic tournament, but as the AIBA has been suspended by the IOC, qualification will be strictly from a series of qualification competitions set for next year. So, there is pride on the line, and that’s about all.

Nevertheless, the 5,000-seat Ekaterinburg Expo Centre could be some significant history, as Cuba’s Julio La Cruz goes for his fifth straight world title at 81 kg and teammate Lazaro Alvarez tries for a fourth, this time at 57 kg. The 10 weight classes in 2017 have been shaved to eight for 2019, but six champions from Hamburg are back for a defense.

AIBA’s problems were referenced during the ceremonial opening of the Worlds by Interim President Mohamed Moustahsane (MAR):

“The situation of AIBA hasn’t been the easiest one since months but being all united we can overcome it. World Championship is a great opportunity to show the whole world how strong and passionate about boxing we are.

“Investments that all of us made into boxing should go back to National Federations to continue to develop our sport. The politics should not be at the centre of our Universe, but the athletes and coaches, yes!”

Preliminaries began on the 9th and will continue to the 17th (Tuesday), with quarterfinals on the 18th, semis on the 20th and finals on the 21st. The top seeds:

52 kg (41 entries):
1. Yosvany Veitia Soto (CUB) ~ 2017 World Champion; 2015 Worlds silver medalist
2. Amit (IND)
3. Yuberjen Martinez (COL) ~ 2017 Worlds 49 kg bronze; 2019 Pan Am 49 kg bronze
4. Rodrigo Marte (DOM) ~ 2019 Pan Am Games gold medalist
5. Daniel Asenov (BUL)

57 kg (51 entries):
1. Lazaro Alvarez (CUB) ~ 2011 Worlds 56 kg Champion, 2013-15 Worlds 60 kn golds
2. Kairat Yeraliyev (KAZ) ~ 2017 Worlds 56 kg Champion; 2013 Worlds bronze
3. Tsendbaatar Erdenebat (MGL)
4. Peter McGrail (ENG) ~ 2017 Worlds 56 kg bronze medalist
5. Kavender Singh Bisht (IND)

63 kg (53 entries):
1. Andy Cruz Gomez (CUB) ~ 2017 Worlds 64 kg Champion; 2019 Pan Am Games gold
2. Soufiane Oumiha (FRA) ~ 2017 Worlds 60 kg Champion
3. Hovhannes Bachkov (ARM) ~ 2017 Worlds 64 kg bronze medalist
4. Chinzorig Baatarsukh (MGL)
5. Otar Eranosyan (GEO) ~ 2017 Worlds 60 kg bronze medalist

69 kg (51 entries):
1. Roniel Iglesias (CUB) ~ 2009 Worlds 64 kg Champion; 2017 Worlds 69 kg silver
2. Pat McCormack (ENG)
3. Bobo-Usman Baturov (UZB)
4. Ablaikhan Zhussupov (KAZ) ~ 2017 Worlds bronze medalist
5. Rohan Polanco (DOM) ~ 2019 Pan Am Games silver medalist

75 kg (49 entries):
1. Arlen Lopez Cardona (CUB) ~ 2015 World Champion; 2019 Pan Am Games gold
2. Tarik Allali (MAR)
3. Tursynbay Kulakhmet (KAZ)
4. Salvatore Cavallaro (ITA)
5. Hebert Da Conceicao (BRA) ~ 2019 Pan Am Games silver medalist

81 kg (49 entries):
1. Julio La Cruz (CUB) ~ 2011-13-15-17 World Champion
2. Loren Alfonso (AZE)
3. Abdelrahman Salah Orabi (EGY)
4. Ibragim Bazuev (GER)
5. Keno Machado (BRA) ~ 2019 Pan Am Games silver medalist

91 kg (42 entries):
1. Erislandy Savon (CUB) ~ 2017 World Champion; 2015 silver medalist
2. Sanjar Tursunov (UZB) ~ 2017 Worlds bronze medalist
3. Vassiliy Levit (KAZ) ~ 2017 Worlds bronze medalist
4. Cheavon Clarke (ENG)
5. Muslim Gadzhimmagomedov (RUS)

+91 kg (29 entries):
1. Kamshybek Kunkabayev (KAZ) ~ 2017 Worlds silver medalist
2. Bakhodir Jalolov (UZB) ~ 2015 Worlds bronze medalist
3. Mourad Aliev (FRA)
4. Cristian Salcedo (COL) ~ 2019 Pan Am Games silver medalist
5. Yousry Rezk Mostafa (EGY)

Cuba is once again expected to dominate, with the top seeds in seven of eight weight classes. The Cubans won five golds and seven medals overall in the 2017 World Championships in Hamburg (GER), when 10 weight classes were conducted, and also won the most medals (7) in 2015.

Look for day-by-day results here.

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