SPORTS


Home success as boxing starts at Solidarity Games

Baku, May 13, AZERTAC

The boxing events at the Islamic Solidarity Games kicked off on Friday, hours ahead of the evening's official Opening Ceremony at the Baku Olympic Stadium.

Ulugbek Dusmuradov of Uzbekistan had the distinction of winning the first bout of the Games, defeating Hakan Eresker of Qatar on a unanimous points decision.

Dusmuradov, 24, survived an early barrage before sending Eresker to the mat in the second round, and a controlled performance saw him comfortably through to the round of 16 in the men's lightweight (60kg) category.

Only men are competing in boxing at the Solidarity Games, and the format is modelled on that of the Olympics - a standard single-elimination competition with three three-minute rounds, and five judges determining the winner of each bout.

The judges employ professional boxing's '10-point must' scoring system, which dictates that the winner of each round must be awarded 10 points.

All of the boxing events at the Solidarity Games will be staged at the imposing Crystal Hall, a state-of-the-art arena that looks out over the Caspian Sea and was built to host the 2012 Eurovision Song Contest.

Hakan Dogan of Turkey and Hursand Imankuliyev of Turkmenistan certainly hit all the right notes as they joined Dusmuradov in the second round of the lightweight tournament, respectively defeating Guyana's Joel Williamson and Jordan's Mohammad Abu Jajeh, also by unanimous points decisions.

Iraq's Ammar Karbalai was made to work a bit harder by an aggressive Abdenacer Belaribi of Algeria, but nevertheless progressed to the next round on a split decision.

Elsewhere, Kuan Kuatov of Kazakhstan and Jordan's Obada Alkasbeh won their round of 32 match-ups in the light-welterweight (64kg) division.

Boxing is one of the sports on which Azerbaijan are pinning significant medal hopes. The host nation picked up 11 of their 56 medals at the 2015 European Games (including six golds) in the discipline, and will be looking to scale even greater heights at Baku 2017.

Their first competitor, Mahammadrasul Majidov, delighted the boisterous home crowd with a commanding unanimous points victory over Kazakhstan's Nurlan Saparbay in the super-heavyweight (+91kg) category.

The hulking 30-year-old is one of Azerbaijan's brightest medal prospects, having taken super heavyweight bronze at the 2012 London Olympics and gold at the world amateur championships in 2011 and 2013.

Syria's Manaf Asaad and Iran's Reza Moradkhani also progressed in the super-heavyweight division.

The boxing runs until May 18 with medal events in 10 weight categories - light-fly (49kg), fly (52kg), bantam (56kg), light (60kg), light-welter (64kg), welter (69kg), middle (75kg), light-heavy (81kg), heavy (91kg) and super-heavy (+91kg).

The finalists in each class will contest the gold medal, while the two losing semi-finalists both receive bronze.

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