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Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Miroslav Kapuler Advances to Quarters in Europeans

Junior middleweight Miroslav Kapuler won his first two fights at the European amateur championships in Belgrade, Serbia run by the EUBC. The EUBC is affiliated with the IBA, who has been banned by the IOC (International Olympic Committee) from running the boxing tournament at the Olympics because of corruption. So this tournament is not an Olympic qualifier. Last year's European Games served as a qualifying tournament instead.

Kapuler, a southpaw who will turn 27 on April 28, is the lone pro boxer from the Israeli contingent. Pro boxers are allowed to fight in amateur tournaments since a rule change in 2016. Kapuler, who also uses the surname Ishchenko, is 3-0 as a pro and last fought for money in 2021. Prospect Yan Zak and Yonatan Arnon, also competed in the tourament for Israel.

Kapuler won his first preliminary bout by unanimous decision over Lithuania's Aleksandr Trofimcuk by boxing beautifully in the pocket: launching intelligent combinations and slipping Tromfimcuk's counters. In the round of 16 the next day, Kapuler completely controlled the contest against Pavel Kaminin, an Estonian from the ethnically Russian eastern city of Narva. Kapuler showed more aggression than usual and loaded up on sledgehammer lefts while Kaminin, who is 2-0 as a pro, mostly held Kapuler as if they were attending a high school dance. Referee Anar Babanli missed an early third round knockdown by Kapuler and then admonished the Israeli for rabbit punching when Kaminin turned his head and scolded Kapuler for arguing that point, but he was fair otherwise.

Heavyweight Yan Zak dominated 2020 Olympian Uladzislau Smiahlikau in the round of 16 by unanimous decision behind his jab and adroit footwork. Smiahlikau suffered a cut by his right eye in the third round. Astonishingly, two judges awarded the Belarussian with a round. In the quarterfinals, Zak faced his rival Loren Alfonso Dominguez of Azerbaijan. A slippery boxer in the Cuban mold, Alfonso fights with his hands down and embarrasses his opponents by making them miss and making them pay from odd angles. He was more serious than usual against Zak and seemed to barely edge the first two rounds. Zak pummeled Alfonso in the third, but three judges incredibly gave the round to Alfonso. Nevertheless, the right man won.

Middleweight Yonatan Arnon was stopped in the last second of his bout by an experienced opponent from Serbia, Almir Memic, in the round of 16. Arnon landed some counters and potshots, but was outclassed by Memic's pressure and looping right. Memic scored three standing eight counts and knocked out his Israeli opponent's mouthpiece several times.  A bit unfairly, the referee stopped the contest with no time left.

Kapuler fights in the quarterfinals against Vasile Cebotari, a Moldovan who is 15-0 as a pro, on Wednesday April 24 in the evening session.

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