Author: Senan SHAFIZADE
The World Boxing Championship in Serbia finally put an end to the long-standing pause in Azerbaijani boxing. Our athletes received three medals at the last prestigious competition of the year held in Belgrade. Sarkhan Aliyev (71 kg) and Muhammed Abdullayev (92+ kg) lost to their rivals in the semifinals and were awarded the bronze medals. Alfonso Dominguez of the national defeated all his rivals and ascended to the highest step of the podium.
Loyalty to Azerbaijan
The three medals won by the Azerbaijani national team at the world championship attended by 510 athletes from 88 countries can be considered a success because one of these medals is a gold medal.
Let's review the performance of Sarkhan Aliyev first. He was quite convincing on the ring and looked stronger than his rivals up until the semifinals. After defeating Stephen Newns (Scotland), Yuta Akiyama and Obed Bartee-El (USA), Sarkhan met with Ukrainian Yuri Zakhareev in the semifinals. This bout ended with the victory of the Ukrainian athlete and Aliyev took the bronze medal. In general, Sarkhan's determination and will was quite positive. If he continues to train hard, in three years we can see him at the Summer Olympic Games in Paris.
The third place was taken by Muhammed Abdullayev (92+ kg). In the first three bouts, Muhammed left a good impression, but in the semifinals he was not like himself. Problems with physical fitness prevented him from reaching the final stage of the championship.
The winner of the European Games, Alfonso Dominguez (86 kg), made it to the final after defeating Tawfigullah Soleimani, who played under the AIBA flag, Romanian athlete Paul Aradoaie, Russian Sharabutdin Ataev and Cuban Ruiz Cordoba. In the finals, the bronze medallist of the Tokyo Olympic Games defeated the Brazilian athlete Keno Machado with a score of 3:2 (28:29, 29:28, 29:28, 30:27, 28:29) and took the highest position of the podium. Organisers also presented him with a special champion belt and an award of $100,000.
Without exaggeration, Alfonso Dominguez is the strongest boxer in the national team of Azerbaijan. By defeating his fellow countryman Ruiz Cordoba in the semifinals, he once again proved his loyalty to Azerbaijan. Thanks to his masterful techniques, Dominguez creates problems for opponents also due to his tall stature and mobility. He became the third best boxer in Tokyo and has every chance to win a gold medal at the upcoming Summer Olympic Games in Paris.
Fifth world champion
The national team of Azerbaijan finished the World Boxing Championship with one gold and two bronze medals. Thanks to the gold medal won by Alfonso Dominguez in the history of the country's sports, we have the fifth world boxing champion. The record holder is Magomedrasul Majidov (91+ kg), who ascended the highest step of the podium three times: in 2011, 2013, and 2017. Azerbaijan’s national team took its first gold medal in 2003 in Bangkok thanks to Aghasi Mammadov (54 kg). His success was followed by Javid Chelebiyev (56 kg) in 2013, and Elvin Mamishzade (52 kg) in 2015. In total, five Azerbaijani champions have 7 gold medals. To date, the national team has won 22 awards at the world championships, including 7 gold, 4 silver, and 11 bronze medals.
In memory of martyrs
In his interview with R+, world champion Alfonso Dominguez said that he dedicated his victory to the memory of our martyrs: “I am very happy. Returning to Baku as a champion is a great feeling. Anthem of Azerbaijan sounded in Serbia on the eve of the Victory Day (celebrated in Azerbaijan on November 8, R+). My success is a result of my confident performance. I am very glad that this happened on the eve of such a wonderful and significant day. Once again I pray to Allah to rest the souls of martyrs in peace and grant health to our veterans. I dedicate this victory to our martyrs.”
Dominguez noted that after defeating his compatriot, Cuban Ruiz Cordoba, in the semifinals, he raised his opponent's hand: “We have very good relations with Ruiz. Outside the ring, we are friends. But on the ring I represent Azerbaijan, he represents Cuba. We must fight. At the Olympic Games, I could not win a gold medal, only a bronze one. After that, I began to prepare for the World Championship. I worked really hard and won a gold medal. I believe that this will be followed by new achievements.”
More ambitious goals
Head coach of the Azerbaijani national boxing team Umberto Orta Dominguez is also satisfied with the performance of the team: “It was an extremely difficult competition. At the world championship, each athlete had to take part in five or six bouts. We took the medals thanks to intensive training.”
According to Dominguez, he had a slight depression after the defeats in three fights: “I mean the fights of Tayfur Aliyev in 1/8, Masud Yusifzade in ¼, and Muhammed Abdullayev in 1/2 finals. If they were awarded the victory they deserved, we would have a different number and type of medals. But we are happy. We must work harder to improve the existing result.”
The Cuban coach also brought clarity to his aggressiveness outside the ring: “This is sport; head coaches do this kind of things. My goal is to make the boxers on the ring to listen to me. This is not a pressure on my part. On the contrary, it is a step to move them forward. We have set even more ambitious goals for the future. We aim at two gold medals at the Paris Summer Olympic Games. Thanks to the awards earned at the World Championship in Serbia, we have, at least, made another step toward this goal.”
After the World Championship, the national boxing team of Azerbaijan is having rest. At the national championship slated for the end of this year, team members will try to defend their places in the national team.