Egypt boost medal hopes on final day of quarters

16 May 2017
Egypt's Eslam Mohamed competes in his Men's Light Welter (64kg) boxing bout during the Baku 2017.
Egypt's Eslam Mohamed (red) and Algeria's Chemseddine Kramou compete in their Men's Light Welter (64kg) boxing bout during the Baku 2017.

Egypt boosted their hopes of increasing a disappointing medal tally at the fourth Islamic Solidarity Games as two of their boxers reached the semi-finals on Tuesday.

Eslam Mohamed and Abdelrahman Abdelgawwad both overcame Algerian opposition to guarantee themselves at least a bronze medal in the light-welterweight (64kg) and light-heavyweight (81kg) categories respectively.

Egypt have so far claimed just four gold medals in Baku, a far cry from the 26 they picked up at the 2013 Solidarity Games in Indonesia.
Mohamed cut a much more imposing figure than Chemseddine Kramou in their 64kg quarter-final, but the Algerian belied appearances with a spirited performance.

The Egyptian was always on top, however, and progressed on a split decision.

It was a similar story in the last fight of the day, which saw Abdelgawwad triumph in the 81kg class at the expense of another Algerian, Mimouh Khelifa, once again on a split decision.

Egypt will now be looking to add several more gold medals to those that they have already won in the shooting and weightlifting.

With boxing's two losing semi-finalists picking up bronze, the winners of all of Tuesday's combats ensured they wouldn't go home empty-handed.

In the day's first bout, Kuan Kuatov of Kazakhstan crushed Turkmenistan's Zufar Saparbayev to reach the light-welterweight (64kg) semis.

Saparbayev was a positive whirligig of uncontrolled aggression and stood absolutely no chance against the straight-shooting Kazakh.

Kuatov sent his opponent to the mat with barely forty seconds on the clock, and simply kept hammering away en route to a large unanimous points victory.

The second bout was more keenly-contested, with Uzbekistan's Aliyor Noraliev seeing off home hopeful Elvin Isayev.

The fight was something of a slow-burner but blazed into life in the second round, as Noraliev unleashed a flurry of blows that southpaw Isayev struggled to fend off.

In spite of a cut to his eye, the Azerbaijani bounced back and briefly put Noraliev down late in the third, to roars of encouragement from the home support at Crystal Hall.

It wasn't enough, however, and Noraliev won on a split decision to become the fourth Uzbek to progress to boxing's semi-final stage.

Jordan's Obada Alkasbeh was the last man to book his place in the 64kg semi-finals as he cruised past Turkey's Volkan Gokcek by unanimous decision.

Turkey - who sat atop the overall medal table at the start of the day - hit back in the very next bout as Cem Karlidag emerged victorious from an intense combat with Morocco's Chouaib Ouahdi, in the first of the men's light-heavyweight (81kg) quarter-finals.

He was joined in the last four by Turkmenistan's Arslanbek Achilov - a competitor at the Rio 2016 Olympics - who needed just 2:26mins to defeat Adama Kone of Cote d'Ivoire by technical knockout in the first round.

Azerbaijan's Rauf Rahimov then restored a bit of national pride by downing Pakistan's Awais Ali Khan by unanimous decision, with the five judges all awarding him a perfect score of 30.

Six Azeri boxers have now made it through to the semi-finals in six different weight classes, and the host nation will be expecting plenty of gold medal success as they look to keep pace with Turkey at the top.

The quarter-finals conclude with the flyweight (52kg) and middleweight (75kg) categories on Tuesday evening, before the first medal bouts on Wednesday.

© AFP Services

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