Kazakhs lords of the Asian Games ring with six golds
INCHEON (SOUTH KOREA) - Kazakhstan packed a huge punch and became the new boxing power in Asia by sweeping six of the 10 gold medals on offer at the Incheon Games on Friday.
Ilyas Suleimenov (flyweight), Daniyar Yeleussinov (welter), Zhanibek Alimkhanuly (middle), Adilbek Niyazymbetov (light heavy), Anton Pinchuk (heavy) and Ivan Dychko (super heavy) completed the roll of honour on a historic afternoon for the central Asian republic at Seonhak Gymnasium.
"To think we have six gold medals, one silver and one bronze at the end of this great celebration of boxing is really unbelievable," superheavyweight Dychko told reporters.
"You have to understand that no bout was easy for any of our boxers and it only down to the great preparation by our coaches and our own hard work we were able to achieve this," he added.
"I only got the silver four years ago so this is a special moment for me."
Of Kazakhstan's seven finalists only Birzhan Zhakypov (light fly) was beaten, by South Korea's Shin Jong-Hun as the hosts got off to a flying start by winning the first gold medal of the day.
Bantamweight Ham Sang-Myeong gave South Korea another gold but from then on it was one-way traffic with Kazakhs winning six of the final seven weight divisions.
Suleimenov began the gold rush by winning the flyweight title on a split decision against Shakhobidin Zoirov of Uzbekistan, who was unlucky not to get the nod from judges in a close-fought battle.
Welterweight world champion Yeleussinov utterly outclassed Israil Madrimov of Uzbekistan on points in the welterweight final.
He was followed into the ring by Alimkhanuly who completely demolished Odai Riyad Adel Alhindawi.
He knocked the Jordanian down in the final round to win by an overwhelming 30-26 on three judges' cards.
South Korea went into the final day with four gold medal hopes and a string of controversial wins behind them.
But many fears the judges might favour them again were dispelled when Lim Hyun-Chul lost a heart-breaking split decision in the light welterweight final to Thailand's Wuttichai Masuk after having a point deducted by the referee.
Their light heavyweight hope Kim Hyeong-Kyu was involved in the fight of the day against Olympic silver medallist Niyazymbetov.
Niyazymbetov was well on top early on but, as he did in his semi-final, Kim slowly clawed his way back by showing huge powers of endurance.
The bout ended in explosive fashion with the pair slugging it out furiously toe-to-toe for the final minute, both seemingly on the verge of a knockdown.
As the Kazakh was announced the winner by split decision, Kim sunk to his knees in tears of disbelief.
"My opponent is a very famous fighter so I have to accept I only got silver," said Kim.
Earlier Shin dominated Kazakhstan's Birzhan Zhakypov in an energetic display which earned him the title of "Best Boxer of the Tournament."
The award surprised many seeing as he had beaten Mark Anthony Barriga in a semi-final Thursday which most observers believed the Filipino had won.
Shin danced around the ring draped in the Korean flag after his verdict was announced.
"I thought I would cry if I won the gold medal. But now, I just can't think of anything and I can't cry," Shin said.
Mongolia enjoyed a famous day by claiming their first ever Asian Games boxing gold when lightweight Otgondalai Dorjnyambuu beat Filipino Charly Suarez on a split decision after a fight that had genuinely been too close to call.
Suarez started tentatively and lost the first round. But he cut the Mongolian in the second and then dominated the third.
"Mongolia has an Olympic champion and a world champion, but I am the first Asian games champion so I am very happy," said Dorjnyambuu.