By Konstantin Denisov
The young athlete from Minsk boxed perfectly at the tournament, which is seen as a rehearsal for the forthcoming Olympic Games. Only the ending was spoilt, as Korneev conceded defeat in his final match against Ukrainian Alexander Usik, allowing him to become world champion. Pleasingly, Korneev’s boxing did guarantee him a medal and a place at next summer’s Olympics in London.
Veteran Victor Zuev, the Athens Games medallist, was beaten by German Erik Pfeifer’s aggressive style in the quarter-finals and, in order to qualify for the Olympics, Zuev needed the German to defeat young Anthony Joshua of the UK and reach the final. Sadly, Pfeifer had to retire after the first round, where he had his nose broken.
“We can’t say that the team was unsuccessful in Azerbaijan,” notes head coach Valery Kornilov. “The tournament brought together 600 boxers from 134 states, with only those from 33 countries receiving Olympic places and those from 22 states receiving medals. Belarus was among them, so it is ranked 17th-20th out of 134 states. Konstantin Makhankov’s performance in the 91kg category was a true breakthrough for Belarusian boxing: we saw a new world-level star. Meanwhile, Sergey Korneev is ranked third in the world, giving him the right to perform at Olympiads. He was born and raised in Belarus. It’s a huge success!”
Other Belarusian boxers still have a chance to qualify for the London Olympics, with the second selection round taking place from April 13th-20th, 2012, in Istanbul.