Boxers from 39 countries are taking part in the European Men’s Elite Boxing Championships in Armenia’s capital, Yerevan. One country is prominently missing from the action – Azerbaijan – the first time since 2008 that the nation will not win a medal at the event.
The Azerbaijan Boxing Federation withdrew from the competition last month as it was being hosted by Armenia, with relations between the two neighbouring countries remaining tense.
Armenia and Azerbaijan have been in conflict over the Nagorno-Karabakh region since the early 1990s.
This is the first elite boxing championships to be hosted by Armenia, so there is much for the hosts to prove. Yerevan had earlier hosted the 2009 AIBA Junior World Boxing Championships and the 2012 AIBA Youth World Boxing Championships.
“Thanks to the European Boxing Confederation giving the chance to Armenia to host the EUBC European Men’s Elite Boxing Championships,” said Ohanes Ovsepian, president of the Armenian Boxing Federation and a new member of the EUBC Board of Directors.
“This event is very important for us, for the whole country and we will do that with high responsibility.”
The championship is taking place from May 23 to 30, with 219 boxers competing in 13 weight categories.
The host nation has picked a 13-strong team, including the defending European champions Artur Hovhannisyan and Hovhannes Bachkov.
Other defending title holders include Gabriel Escobar from Spain and Ukrainian Oleksandr Khyzhniak. Khyzhniak, the reigning middleweight champion, has fond memories of Yerevan, having gold at the 2012 AIBA Youth World Boxing Championships.
Russian and Belarusian boxers are banned from competing, following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The European Men’s Elite Boxing Championships were last held in 2019 during the European Games in Minsk.
Ireland, Spain and Great Britain are also expected to field strong teams.