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Strandja Tournament : AIBA Report

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By AIBA

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The 62nd Strandja Memorial Tournament concluded in Pazardjik, Bulgaria, over the weekend with women boxers competing for the first time and local athletes dominating the competition.

At the tournament 25 women boxers competed in three weight classes and 102 male boxers took part from 21 nations: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Cuba, Czech Republic, England, France, FYR of Macedonia, Georgia, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Moldova, Norway, Russia, Serbia, Spain, Sweden, Ukraine and Wales.

Reigning European Union Champion 25-year-old Stoyka Petrova claimed Bulgaria's first victory at the traditionally strong event by beating Sweden's European Champion veteran Jenny Hardingz in the flyweight class.

European Union Championships silver medalist lightweight Denitsa Eliseeva of Bulgaria made the biggest surprise of the tournament, after previous losses against World No. 1 Katie Taylor she defeated the Irish superstar by 5:1 for the first time in her career.

Veteran EU Champion Desislava Lazarova secured Bulgaria's third female gold medal in Pazardjik in the middleweight division. She unexpectedly triumphed over two-time World Champion Maria Kovacs of Hungary in the semifinal and defeated Argentinean-born Tamara Garcia of Spain by 10:5 in the final.

Yosvany Veitia claimed a bronze medal at the Bocskai Memorial Tournament last week but converted this into a gold in Bulgaria. In the male light flyweight class final the 18-year-old Cuban boxer defeated Spain's European Championships bronze medalist Jose Kelvin de la Nieve, who was born in the Dominican Republic.

Bulgaria's new rising star Aleksandar Aleksandrov advanced to the final, as the experts had predicted, and the local boxer outpointed Cuba's Youth Olympic Games winner 17-year-old Robeisy Ramirez in the flyweight division.

Newly-crowned Russian National Champion and former European Junior Champion Dmitriy Polyanskiy showed great footwork in the bantamweight final against Ukraine's new talent, Mikola Butsenko, to take the gold medal.

Bulgaria's Mostar Youth Tournament silver medalist 19-year-old Airin Ismetov caused another huge surprise when he triumphed over reigning European Youth Champion Martin Ward of England in the lightweight division.

The relatively unknown youth boxer Nikolay Koev of Bulgaria will not celebrate his 18th birthday until September but could already celebrate a gold medal victory in the light welterweight class in Pazardjik. Koev competed in the 2009 AIBA Junior World Championships in Yerevan, Armenia and will be aiming for a podium finish at the European Youth Championships in August.

Commonwealth Champion and former European Cadet Champion 19-year-old Fred Evans of Wales made a huge success in Pazardjik, he triumphed over Russia's AIBA World Championships silver medalist Andrey Zamkovoy by 2:0 in the welterweight final.

Commonwealth Games silver medalist Anthony Ogogo of England caught the experts' eye in Delhi last year when he defeated India's famous Vijender Singh. At the Strandja Memorial Tournament the 22-year-old English boxer beat Bulgaria's Marian Momchev by 3:2. Both middleweight athletes are former AIBA Cadet World Champions.

Reigning AIBA World Champion and European titleholder Yegor Mekhontsev of Russia moved down to light heavyweight after the successful events in 2010. Mekhontsev maintained his incredible record in Pazardjik, where he has won each of his contests since 2008.

European Championships silver medalist 28-year-old Tervel Pulev was Bulgaria's best boxer in Detelin Dalakliev's absence in Pazardjik. He had a very strong opponent in the final, Cuba's Youth Olympic Games winner Leinier Perot, but Pulev made the bout his and won the heavyweight gold in the front of the home crowd.

After his victory at the Bocskai Memorial Tournament one week ago AIBA Youth World Champion Erislandy Savon of Cuba continued his winning series in Pazardjik. Savon did excellent work in the super heavyweight class final against AIBA World Championships silver medalist Roman Kapitanenko of Ukraine and there was little surprise as the Cuban boxer stepped on to the top step of the podium.