Berik Abdrakhmanov can pack his bags for Brazil, as the Kazakh lightweight boxer defeated Uzbekistan’s Hurshid Tojibaev Jan. 30 in the AIBA Pro Boxing (APB) Inaugural Title Match. The victory served as his invitation to represent his country at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, according to Vesti.kz.
The 2016 Summer Games will be first to allow participation by pro boxers. The APB competition, the only way they can qualify, is fully supported by the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
Fans filled the stands at the Daulet Sports Complex in Astana to cheer for the number one seed and hometown favourite. The two undefeated boxers in the 60kg category went the full eight rounds, with Abdrakhmanov topping Tojibaev in a unanimous decision with scores of 77:75, 77:75 and 78:74.
Abdrakhmanov, who improved to 4-0 in the APB, won the majority of the first four rounds and captured most scorecards. Tojibaev, now 3-1, came on strong in the middle of the fight, impressing different judges in different rounds.
One of Kazakhstan’s brightest boxing stars, Abdrakhmanov is described by the APB website www.aibaproboxing.com as the latest in a long line of world-class fighters from the country. The gold medalist at the 2013 Asian Boxing Championships, he emerged on the global stage later that year by winning a bronze at the AIBA World Boxing Championships. His style is one of unsettling his opponent with constant lateral movement, compact attacks and hard, fast combinations. He keeps his hands high, twisting and ducking to avoid punches.
The path to the Olympics began last year, as the APB pre-ranking phase, which ended Jan. 31, identified authentic champions in each weight category.
The programme will launch its season in March with the first cycle of competition between the ranked boxers until the APB Olympic qualifying events later this year. Only two of eight boxers competing in six or eight-round fights will have the chance to represent their countries. With his win, Abdrakhmanov earned the first license for Kazakhstan to participate in the games.
A native of the Mangystau region, Abdrakhmanov was honoured in his hometown of Aktau after the victory. The Chief of Police for the region presented him with a certificate for half a million tenge (US$2,710), according to Kazakh TV.
“I am glad to have won the license for the Olympic Games and I want to thank my coaches and the Kazakhstan Boxing Federation,” said Abdrakhmanov in an interview with the network. “My dream is to go to the Olympics and win a gold medal. I think together with the coaches and with the Kazakh supporters I will reach this aim.”