Bobokulova and Khodzhiyev made the main surprises at the Strandja Memorial Tournament

Uzbekistan’s Sabina Bobokulova and Kyrgyzstan’s Anvarzhan Khodzhiyev made the main surprises in the semi-finals of the 75th edition of the Strandja Memorial Tournament in Sofia, Bulgaria.

Altogether 83 women and 178 men boxers are participating in the new edition of the Strandja Memorial Tournament in six female and 13 male weight categories.

The traditional event will be a great opportunity to prepare actively before the 1st World Olympic Boxing Qualifying Event. The 1st World Olympic Boxing Qualifying Event will take place in Busto Arsizio, North Italy between February 29 and March 13.

Algeria, Armenia, Austria, host Bulgaria, China, France, Georgia, Greece, Guatemala, India, Iran, Ireland, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Kosovo, Lithuania, Moldova, Mongolia, Nigeria, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Tajikistan, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine and Uzbekistan are the participating 28 countries in Sofia.  

Uzbekistan’s Sabina Bobokulova caused one of the top sensations in the women’s part of the semi-finals in Sofia. The 20-year-old boxer, who is No.2 in her homeland, was energetic against China’s Asian Games winner Wu Yu and she found the way to beat the top favourite. She will now meet for the title of the light flyweight (50kg), India’s two-time World Champion Nikhat Zareen who eliminated Bulgaria’s Zlatislava Chukanova.

China’s Paris 2024 Olympian Chang Yuan and her teammates such as Yang Wenlu (60kg) and Yang Liu (66kg) all advanced to the finals of the Strandja Memorial Tournament after beating strong rivals. Chang controlled her bantamweight (54kg) semi-final against Sandra Drabik of Poland while Wang eliminated Thailand’s Thananya Somnuek in a superb contest.

Tajikistan’s Mizhgona Samadova claimed a bronze medal at the Asian Games and she qualified already for the Paris Olympics but she exceeded all of her previous levels of boxing in this Strandja Memorial Tournament. The strong puncher eliminated Greece’s Olga Pavlina Papadatou and she will be boxing for the title of the women’s featherweight (57kg) with Bulgaria’s star, Svetlana Kamenova.

Kyrgyzstan’s lone finalist in Sofia will be Anvarzhan Khodzhiyev at the minimumweight (48kg), following his success over Georgia’s European Champion Sakhil Alakhverdovi. The Kyrgyz will now face India’s Barun Singh Shagolshem for the gold, while Kazakhstan’s World Champion Sanzhar Tashkenbay also amazed in the day of the semi-finals at the flyweight (51kg).

Mongolia’s Asian Champion Enkh-Amar Kharkhuu collected a big scalp in the quarter-finals of the men’s featherweight (57kg) but he suffered a loss to Uzbekistan’s 2021 Youth World Champion Shakhzod Muzaffarov in the last four. The 21-year-old Uzbek will now meet another Youth World Champion for the title, India’s Sachin who had a successful semi-final campaign against Ukraine’s Aider Abduraimov.

Uzbekistan’s top boxer, the World Champion and Asian Games winner Abdumalik Khalokov uses the event as preparations for Paris and he is the star of the lightweight (60kg) in Sofia. The Uzbek No.1 had a dominance against Armenia’s Artur Sahakyan and he will now meet for the gold Tajikistan’s Asror Vokhidov. Uzbekistan’s Youth World Champion and Asian U22 Champion Jakhongir Zokirov was named as the “next Jalolov” at the super heavyweight (+92kg) and he proved his fantastic strength on Day7. The 20-year-old Uzbek dominated the first two rounds against Georgia’s Nikoloz Begadze and he knocked out his opponent in the third.

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