Baku, May 14, AZERTAC
Azerbaijan's Tamerlan Abdullayev produced one of the performances of the day as the boxing events continued on Sunday with the men's welterweight (69kg) preliminaries.
The local fighter was given a raucous reception at Baku's Crystal Hall as he squared off against Turkmenistan's Muhammetmyrat Sahedov in the second bout.
Abdullayev stood at least half a foot taller than his opponent and always looked in control, in spite of some spirited resistance from the Turkmenistani.
The home hopeful grew into the fight after a somewhat laboured opening, and sent Sahedov to the mat at the end of the second round after surviving a furious flurry.
Sahedov visibly tired in the third and it was no great surprise to see the five judges award victory to Abdullayev by a unanimous points decision.
Azerbaijan have made no secret of the fact that they are targeting as many medals as possible in the boxing as they look to outdo rivals Turkey in the overall medal table.
After the opening day of the fourth edition of the Islamic Solidarity Games, the two countries - who enjoy very friendly relations - were tied at the top of the medal table on 11 golds apiece.
Azerbaijan's strong boxing squad includes heavyweight Teymur Mammadov, who took 81kg gold at the 2015 European Games in Baku, and Mahammadrasul Majidov, a two-time world amateur champion in 2011 and 2013. Both men also secured Olympic bronze at London 2012.
Mammadov's gold at those European Games two years ago was one of six for the host nation in boxing, as they topped the discipline medal table ahead of Russia.
Meanwhile, it was a good day for boxing's traditional powerhouses.
Ilya Ochkin of Kazakhstan won a feisty opening combat with Morocco's Abdelkabir Bellassek, while Uzbekistan's Bobo-Usmon Baturov powered past Ahmed Harara of Palestine.
Turkey's Onder Sipal, Syria's Ahmad Ghosson and Cameroon's Mahaman Smaila also progressed to the next round of the welterweight (69kg) competition.
The boxing continues on Sunday evening with a total of eight bouts in the men's lightweight (60kg) and heavyweight (91kg) categories.
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