DOHA, 15 OCTOBER 2015: In front of a sold-out arena, ten more finalists stepped into the ring tonight with the chance to write their names in boxing’s hall of fame. The highly anticipated bouts were the culmination of these historic World Championships in Doha, and as the atmosphere reached the boiling point with world-famous heavyweight legends Wladimir and Vitaly Klitschko in the stands, the stage was set for one last day of this spectacular sporting spectacle.
Speaking in between the bouts, Yousuf Ali Al Kazim, President of Qatar Boxing Federation and Executive Director of the LOC in association with Qatar Olympic Committee, said:
“This has been a defining moment for boxing in Qatar, and a clear statement of how important the sport is for the people. AIBA have said that these days of incredible sporting action have set a new benchmark for the World Championships, while the athletes have said that they have never experienced better facilities or a better organized event. That is testament to our commitment and ambition of making these World Championships the best ever, and it is our sincere hope that athletes, coaches and officials will leave Doha with fond memories.
“I must thank the Klitschko brothers and Amir Khan for being with us today to show their support for these fine athletes. I appreciate them taking the time out of their busy schedules, and I hope that it gave the boxers competing for gold medals extra motivation and inspiration to succeed.”
With 500 million TV viewers across the world tuning in, all eyes were on the first gold-medal bout of the evening. With two of the Cuban boxers winning gold in yesterday’s finals, another squad member was in action tonight in the flyweight category, namely Yosbany Veitia who looked to add to the gold medal streak for his country as he stepped into the ring to face the impressive Elvin Mamishzada of Azerbaijan.
The Cuban faithful had turned up in numbers to support Veitia’s quest for gold, but it was not be as Mamishzada ran away with the gold medal after winning on unanimous decision.
Speaking after the final, the Azerbaijani flyweight boxer said:
“To be world champion feels great. I am very proud of myself, and especially for managing to perform to the best of my ability on the night. I got the result that I needed, and now it’s time to celebrate.”
The lightweight final was another Cuba versus Azerbaijan bout, with the exciting, in-form reigning world champion Lazaro Alvarez taking on the winner of the 2007 AIBA World Championships, Albert Selimov. The two boxers have both already qualified for the Olympic Games next year in Rio, but for Alvarez it was all about chasing his third consecutive world title.
Unlike his countryman in the bout before, Alvarez passed the test with ease. The Cuban champion dominated from start to finish, and already in the second round it was clear that there could be only one winner. With 8 seconds remaining of the round, the referee stopped the match and declared a technical knockout victory for Alvarez who could raise his arm in affection for the Cuban supporters cheering him on. And with that win, Cuba’s third goal was secured.
The anticipated welterweight final was up next with Kazakhstan’s reigning world champion Daniyar Yeleussinov coming up against huge crowd favourite Mohammed Rabii of Morocco, the only Arab left in the final stage and recent recipient of the WSB Boxer of the Year Award at the AIBA Annual Awards in Doha.
Despite the overwhelming favorite Yeleussinov starting brightly, the Moroccan quickly gained momentum and seemed to be lifted by the roaring support in the stands as the bout progressed. In the end, there was no contest as Rabii claimed his first-ever World Championship gold medal by winning on unanimous decision.
After running around the ring with the Moroccan flag around his shoulders, an overjoyed Rabii said:
“This is amazing for me and my country! My supporters are incredible, and they definitely helped me reach my goal in the ring. I’m a world champion, and I’m so, so, so proud! I love my country, and I love my supporters – this is for them!”
With yesterday’s Irish sensation Michael Conlon being crowned World Champion here in front of a huge Irish fan base, it was light heavyweight Joseph Ward’s opportunity to double Ireland’s gold medal tally in front of the green wave of Irish supporters here at the Ali Bin Hamad Al Attiyah Arena. Joseph was up against the Cuban captain and two time reigning World Champion Julio La Cruz. This was set for three rounds of immense boxing action.
Already within the first minute the action was on as Ward sent his opponent to the ground. This gold-medal bout was all about two very different styles, with the Irishman going for powerful hooks and La Cruz sticking with calm, controlled jabs. In the end though, the Cuban champion showed his superiority by winning 3:0 and got to leave Doha with yet another gold medal added to his already impressive collection. This was Cuba’s fourth and final gold in these World Championships.
Joseph Ward was naturally distraught after the defeat: “It’s unfortunate. I gave it everything and thought I did enough, but that’s boxing and I can’t do anything about it now.”
The last bout of the evening and the closing battle of the Doha 2015 AIBA Boxing World Championships saw French super heavyweight Tony Yoka up against Kazakhstan’s Ivan Dychko. Both boxers have looked extremely good coming through the stages of the competition with relative ease, but here it was all about who could come up with the goods for that all-important last performance.
The young Frenchman fought for his life in the ring, and kept Dychko on arm’s length throughout the bout. It was evident that this gold medal was coming back to Paris, and after being declared world champion on unanimous decision, Yoka could let all his emotions out and waved the French flag around the ring with the crowd chanting his name. This was as good as it gets, and a fine example how the boxing sport has been embraced on these shores throughout these World Championships.
Speaking after his historic win, Yoka said:
“This is what I came here to do. I knew I could do it, and I wanted to prove to everyone how hard I’ve worked for this. When you put in all this hard work and you get what you came for, it makes it all worth it. I feel amazing!”
In the bronze bouts of the evening we saw Elnur Abduraimov from Uzbekistan go up against the Brazilian Robson Donato Conceicao in the lightweight category. The bout turned out to be a one-sided contest, with the Uzbek winning the medal on unanimous decision.
The second bronze box-off was supposed to be between the welterweight boxer Parviz Baghirov from Azerbaijan and AIBA World Championships first timer Wei Lui from China. However, the bout never took place as Wei Lui won on walkover.
With the last bout here in Doha out of the way, it was time for a glorious closing ceremony with speeches from both AIBA and the Local Organizing Committee. After that, four lucky winners were introduced to the ring where they were given one Nissan car each from Bengt Scultz, chief operating officer at Saleh Al Hamad Al Mana Company, along with boxing sensation Amir Khan.