Russian boxers are showing they should be a force at next year's Beijing Olympics as they are headed for the top performance of the 107 countries at the amateur World Boxing Championships in Chicago. VOA Sports Editor Parke Brewer is covering the action and has a report.
Russia had boxers reach the medal rounds here in eight of the 11 weight classes, and six of them won their semifinals on Friday. The country with the second most finalists is Italy with three.
One Russian, middleweight (75kg) Matvey Korobov, will be aiming for a second consecutive world title. He led his bout 17-1 against Sergiy Derevychenko when the Ukrainian retired in the second round. Korobov's gold medal opponent will be Venezuela's Alfonso Blanco, who defeated Artayev Bakhtiyar of Kazakhstan, 15-7.
After the first five Russian semifinalists all won, the streak was halted by England's Frankie Gavin who beat lightweight (60 kg) Alexey Tishchenko, 19-10.
Gavin said it was the best feeling he's ever had in his amateur boxing career.
"I'm on the way to becoming number-one in the world," he said. "I've had a great month in America, and I'm one fight away from being England's first-ever world champion."
Two Americans earned opportunities to win gold medals by winning their semifinals. One of them was flyweight (51kg) Rau'shee Warren, who scored a 26-13 decision over Samir Mammadov of Azerbaijan.
Afterward, Warren, a bronze medalist two years ago, told VOA Sports that he is not completely satisfied, because a world title is in sight.
"I give it a B-plus. Like right now the job is not done until I get the [gold] medal around my neck and I see the American flag going up and listen to the National Athem. Then that's an A-plus," he said.
Warren's teammate, Demetrius Andrade, also scored a convincing win in his semifinal, beating Turkish boxer Adem Kilicci, 22-6.
In all, boxers from 13 countries will have a chance to be 2007 world champions.