18-Year-Old Nazaryan Upsets World Champion Azizli

By Eric Olanowski

ROME, Italy (February 10) --- The star-studded list of Monday-night semifinalists featured countless Olympic, world and continental medalists. But it wasn't any of the well-known stars who shinned the brightest under the lights at the Pala Pellicone Arena in the seaside town of Ostia, Italy. 

Edmond NAZARYAN (BUL), the barely 18-year-old baby-faced Bulgarian, was the unlikely star who blew the roof of the arena on his way to locking up a trip to the European finals.

Nazaryan rose to the occasion in his senior debut and scored the improbable come-from-behind fall over 2018 world champion Eldaniz AZIZLI (AZE). He’ll wrestle for European gold on Tuesday night, two weeks after his 18th birthday. 

Nazaryan, the son of two-time Olympic champion Armen NAZARYAN (BUL), surrendered five first-period points but responded by lighting up the scoreboard with seven unanswered points before pancaking Azizli to his back for the fall.

The youngster will wrestle eighth-ranked Vitalii KABALOEV (RUS) on Tuesday night for the 55kg gold medal.

Kabaloev defeated Nugzari TSURTSUMIA (GEO) in the battle of reigning world champion and returning European champion. Kabaloev, the defending European champion, avenged his world quarterfinals loss against top-ranked Tsurtsumia with a 5-2 semifinals win on Monday night. 

Kabaloev will jump from fifth to second in the next rankings after locking up his finals spot. He can earn no less than 18 points, which would give him 41 Ranking Series points. He’ll hold the three-point lead over Khorlan ZHAKANSHA (KAZ).

Viktor LORINCZ (HUN) holds one finger up, signifying he'll be the top-ranked wrestler in the world at 87kg after Tuesday night's finals. (Photo: Gabor Martin)

Lorincz Reaches Finals, Set to Take Over No. 1 Spot at 87kg 
Viktor LORINCZ (HUN) gained the No. 1 ranking in the world at 87kg after going 3-0 on Monday and inserting himself into Tuesday night’s finals. He entered the European Championships ranked second in the world with 56 points and added at least 18 points to his total after he reached the European finals for the second time in his career. 

If Lorincz wins gold on Tuesday night, he’ll control a 16-point advantage over Zhan BELENIUK (UKR). And even if he loses in tomorrow night’s finals, he’ll still carry a 14-point lead over Beleniuk, the reigning world champion, heading into the final Ranking Series event.

Lorincz cruised to a 6-1 semifinals victory over Islam ABBASOV (AZE) and will take on Semen NOVIKOV (UKR) for the 87kg European title.

Novikov, who is stepping in for Beleniuk, capped off his run to the finals with wins over two-time world champion Metehan BASAR (TUR) and four-time age-group world champion Aleksandr KOMAROV (RUS). 

Novikov stole his finals appearance from Komarov, who led 1-1 with six seconds left. The Ukranian locked up a front head pinch and transitioned into a gut wrench to steal the match from the Russian, 5-1.

Alin ALEXUC CIURARIU (ROU) will wrestle Levan ARABULI (GEO) in the 130kg European finals. (Photo: Gabor Martin)

Alexuc Ciurariu’s Win Knocks out Kayaalp from Medal Contention 
Alin ALEXUC CIURARIU (ROU) defeated Mykola KUCHMII (UKR), 2-1, in the semifinals and knocked off four-time world champion Riza KAYAALP (TUR) from European medal contention.

Kayaalp needed Kuchmii to win to pull him back into the repechage round. 

The Turkish big man came into the European Championships searching for his tenth European title. Up until today, Kayaalp never finished lower than second place in his previous 11 trips to the European Championships. But a 5-1 quarterfinals loss to Kuchmii ended his streak of 11 consecutive European finals appearances. 

Alexuc Ciurariu will square off with Levan ARABULI (GEO) in the 130kg finals. Arabuli annihilated Arvi Martin SAVOLAINEN (FIN), 9-0, and will wrestle for European gold for the first time in his career. His previous highest finish came in 2017 when he finished with a bronze medal. 

Zotlan LEVAI (HUN) will be ranked third in the world at 77kg after the European Championships. (Photo: Gabor Martin)

Levai to Join “Little Lorincz” in Top-Three of 77kg Rankings  
Thanks to Zotlan LEVAI’S (HUN) run to the European finals, Hungary will occupy two of the top three spots in the 77kg world rankings after the European Championships. Reigning world champion Tamas LORINCZ (HUN) is ranked first, and Levai will climb from 11th to third after the conclusion of the European finals. 

Levai, who won the Matteo Pellicone Ranking Series event three weeks ago, was ranked 11th with 16 points. But after making the finals, Levai will depart Rome with no less than 20 Ranking Series points, moving him ahead of Mohammadali GERAEI (IRI) for the third spot in the rankings.

Levai shutout Volodymyr YAKOVLIEV (UKR), 9-0, in the semifinals, and will take on Sanan SULEYMANOV (AZE) on Tuesday night. The Azeri also picked up a shutout win in his semifinals match. He blanked Karapet CHALYAN (ARM), 3-0. 

Labazanov and Nehoda Stop 2018 European Finals Rematch from Happening
Ibragim LABAZANOV (RUS) and Maksim NEHODA (BLR) scored wins in their semifinal matches and stopped the 2018 European finals rematch between Mihai MIHUT (ROU) and Stig-Andre BERGE (NOR) from happening. 

Labazanov collected an inactivity point and a pair of exposures from the par terre position and did his part in stopping the potential continental finals rematch from taking place. He defeated Mihut, 5-1, after trailing 1-0. 

Nehoda blocked Berge from reaching the European finals for the third consecutive year. He scored a second-period inactivity point and a two-point exposure after trailing 1-0 and claimed the 3-1 victory over the 2016 Rio Olympic bronze medalist. 


SEMIFINAL - Edmond Armen NAZARYAN (BUL) df. Eldaniz AZIZLI (AZE), via fall 

GOLD - Ibragim LABAZANOV (RUS) vs. Maksim NEHODA (BLR)
SEMIFINAL - Maksim NEHODA (BLR) df. Stig-Andre BERGE (NOR), 3-1 
SEMIFINAL - Ibragim LABAZANOV (RUS) df. Mihai Radu MIHUT (ROU), 5-1 

SEMIFINAL - Zotlan LEVAI (HUN) df. Volodymyr YAKOVLIEV (UKR), 7-0 

SEMIFINAL - Semen NOVIKOV (UKR) df. Aleksandr KOMAROV (RUS), 5-1 

SEMIFINAL - Levan ARABULI (GEO) df. Arvi Martin SAVOLAINEN (FIN), 9-0 


Tuesday (February 11)
8:30 - Weigh-in GR – 55-63-77-87-130kg
8:45 - Medical examination & Weigh-in GR – 60-67-72-72-82-97kg
11:30 - Qualification rounds GR – 60-67-72-82-97kg
11:30 - Repechage GR – 55-63-77-87-130kg
15:30 - Technical conference – all WW teams
15:30 -Draw WW – All weight categories
16:45 - Semi Final GR – 60-67-72-82-97kg
18:00 - Finals GR – 55-63-77-87-130kg
18:00 - Award ceremonies

Wednesday (February 12)
8:30 - Weigh-in GR – 60-67-72-82-97kg
8:45 - Medical examination & Weigh-in WW – 50-55-59-68-76kg
11:30 - Qualification rounds WW – 50-55-59-68-76kg
11:30 - Repechage GR – 60-67-72-82-97kg 
16:45 - Semi Final WW – 50-55-59-68-76kg
18:00 - Finals GR – 60-67-72-82-97kg
18:00 - Award ceremonies

Thursday (February 13)
8:30 - Weigh-in WW – 50-55-59-68-76kg
8:45 - Medical examination & Weigh-in WW – 53-57-62-65-72kg
11:30 - Qualification rounds WW – 53-57-62-65-72kg
11:30 - Repechage WW – 50-55-59-68-76kg
14:00 - Technical conference – all FS teams
14:00 - Draw FS – All weight categories
16:45 - page4image515539072Semi Final WW – 53-57-62-65-72kg 
18:00 - Finals WW – 50-55-59-68-76kg
18:00 - Award ceremonies

Friday (February 14)
8:30 - Weigh-in WW – 53-57-62-65-72kg 
8:45 - Medical examination & Weigh-in FS – 57-65-70-79-97kg
11:30 - Qualification rounds FS – 57-65-70-79-97kg
11:30 - Repechage WW – 53-57-62-65-72kg 
16:45 - Semi Final FS – 57-65-70-79-97kg 
18:00 - Finals WW – 53-57-62-65-72kg
18:00 -Award ceremonies 

Saturday (February 15)
8:30 - Weigh-in FS – 57-65-70-79-97kg 
8:45 - Medical Examination & Weigh-in FS – 61-74-86-92-125kg
11:30 - Qualification rounds FS – 61-74-86-92-125kg 
11:30 - Repechage FS – 57-65-70-79-97kg 
16:45 - Semi Final FS – 61-74-86-92-125kg
18:00 - Finals FS – 57-65-70-79-97kg
18:00 - Award ceremonies 

Sunday (February 16)
8:30 - Weigh-in FS – 61-74-86-92-125kg
16:00 - Repechage FS – 61-74-86-92-125kg 
18:00 - Finals FS – 61-74-86-92-125kg
18:00 - Award ceremonies
21:30 - Final banquet


'Focused' Chamizo Steals Gold Against Burroughs at Matteo Pellicone

By Vinay Siwach

OSTIA (Italy), March 8 --- After a 25-month wait, Jordan BURROUGHS (USA) and Frank CHAMIZO (ITA) finally met again on the mat.

At the Yasar Dogu in 2019, Chamizo had decided to sit out of the final, giving Burroughs the win. This was five months after the American had scored his third win over Chamizo at the Dan Kolov-Nikola Petrov event in February.

Sure, the pandemic delayed the matchup but Burroughs' loss at the 2019 World Championships  semifinal to Zaurbek SIDAKOV (RUS) in September deprived the fans of a rematch in NurSultan, Kazakhstan. Chamizo was on the other side of the bracket and reached the final against Sidakov.

But on a blockbuster Sunday at the Matteo Pellicone Ranking Series event in Rome, the two superstars clashed for the sixth time in what is quickly becoming wrestling's prized rivalry in recent years.

For the record, Chamizo closed the gap with Burroughs in head-to-head to 4-2 after winning a tense gold medal bout 3-2 at 74kg. Two of Chamizo's points were step out while one was for Burroughs passivity. Even Burroughs scored his two via step outs.

“I am feeling good. I did not even know he (Jordan) will be here,” Chamizo said. “I thought it would be an easy competition. My training is less but I am focused. That's what it is right now. I'm focused on my goals.”

Both wrestlers got into an intense scramble in the first period of the bout which resulted in Chamizo scoring a step out from a situation that seemed advantageous for Burroughs.

Chamizo explained the situation in the post-final interview. “I think he is a little bit scared when there's a scramble,” he said. “He loses focus and that's when I attack. When there is a scramble, he loses focus. He is like I don't want to be here.”

The bout was once again the most anticipated bout in Rome and like always was a medal bout. The two have wrestled for world medals, Ranking Series medals including the title which shows how dominant the two have been in their weight categories.

While Burroughs had talked about how is focused on winning his second Olympic gold medal after missing it in 2016 at Rio, Chamizo has been particularly expressive about being the top guy at 74kg.

Every tournament before the grand event in August will only be a virtual pit stop for wrestler but Chamizo thinks that the changes he has brought in himself will be enough to propel him to the top when it will matter the most five months from now.

“Before, I had training but I had no focus,” he said. “Now, I am a real 74kg. You see the difference between 2018 and now. Jordan is the best. For me, I always prepare for him. But I am the champion. I don't want to say but I the new man.”

It was evident in the final bout as well as Chamizo controlled the center of the mat instead of chasing Burroughs who has a tendency to pounce on the slightest of openings offered the opponent.

“I am training for this. I want to be in the center against him,” he said. “He has good scrambles and attacks. He is like a train. So I want to stay in the center and see what happens.”

Leading into the finals, Burroughs outscored his opponents 9-1 in the two bouts. 2019 Asian champion and world bronze medalist Daniyar KAISINOV (KAZ) was the first to fall to the American 5-0 before he beat Narsingh YADAV (IND) 4-1 in the semifinal.

On the other side, Chamizo had a roller-coaster especially in the quarter-final against Malik AMINE (SMR). Chamizo was at one point trailing Amine but managed to come back and win 13-8.

In the semifinal, Chamizo closed a 6-0 win over Franklin GOMEZ (PUR) to set up the summit clash against Burroughs.

Bajrang PUNIA (IND)

In other freestyle action, Bajrang PUNIA (IND) defended his title at 65kg with a tense 2-2 win over Tulga TUMUR OCHIR (MGL) in the gold medal bout. This was Punia's fifth gold medal at a Ranking Series event, making him the most successful freestyle wrestler at the series.

In a far from ideal bout in the final, Punia was left struggling to find an opening against Ochir. He was put on shot-clock and did not score giving a 1-0 lead to Ochir, who later scored a step out to lead 2-0. With 30 seconds to go, Ochir went for a shot but missed, while Punia capitalized on it to take a takedown with 14 seconds remaining.

“It was a good match with him. I am wrestling after a year off and he is also an Olympic qualified wrestler so it was a tough bout,” Punia said. “Before the Olympics, I want to wrestle every Tokyo qualified wrestler..”

Punia began with a 7-0 win over Selim KOZAN (TUR) but was tested by Joseph McKEENA (USA) in the semifinal. It was a rematch from last year which Punia won 4-2. This time, he improved the score to 6-3.

Ochir, on the other hand, dominated his opponents starting with Hamza ALACA (TUR) who he beat 10-0 before a 4-0 win against ROHIT (IND).


In an all-USA final at 86kg, former junior world silver medalist Zahid VALENCIA claimed a stunning 11-0 victory over Mark HALL (USA), himself a two-time junior world champion at 74kg.

Valencia was undoubtedly the top performer of the day as he outscored his opponents 34-2, winning all his bouts via technical superiority.

Another American wrestler who struck gold was Alec PANTALEO (USA) at 70kg. He defeated world silver medalist at 65kg Daulet NIYAZBEKOV (KAZ) twice in the day to claim the gold medal.

The surprise came at 61kg where U23 World Championships silver medalist Adlan ASKAROV (KAZ) defeated world and European silver medalist Suleyman ATLI (TUR) 8-3 in the first bout of the day. The Kazak youngster remained unbeaten for the day and claimed the gold medal while Atli settled for silver.  

World Championships bronze medalist Nurislam SANAYEV captured the top position at 57kg by defeating Nicholas SUNIARO (USA) twice in the day. In the final, Sanayev beat the US wrestler 4-2 while in the day the score was 3-2.

The 79kg gold medal was captured by veteran Galymzhan USSERBAYEV (KAZ). He had to see off a late challenge from David Vincent MC FADDEN (USA) before winning 6-5.

Rio Olympics silver medalist at 86kg Selim YASAR (TUR) won the gold medal at 92kg to close out the competition which was the first Ranking Series event of the year.


Final #WrestleRome MFS team scores

GOLD: USA (190 points)
SILVER: Kazakhstan (178 points)
BRONZE: Turkey (113 points)
FOURTH: India (98 points)
FIFTH: Italy (48 points)

Men's freestyle

GOLD: Nurislam SANAYEV (KAZ) df. Nicholas Raymond SURIANO (USA) 4-2


GOLD: Bajrang PUNIA (IND) df. Tulga TUMUR OCHIR (MGL) 2-2
BRONZE: Hamza ALACA (TUR) df. ROHIT (IND) 12-10
BRONZE: Joseph Christopher McKENNA 8-2 Selim KOZAN (TUR)

GOLD: Alec William PANTALEO (USA) df. Daulet NIYAZBEKOV (KAZ) 4-0

GOLD: Frank CHAMIZO (ITA) df. Jordan BURROUGHS (USA) 3-2
BRONZE: Nurkozha KAIPANOV (KAZ) df. Franklin GOMEZ MATOS (PUR) 8-1
BRONZE: Daniyar KAISANOV df. Narsingh Pancham YADAV (IND) 5-0

GOLD: Galymzhan USSERBAYEV (KAZ) df. David Vincent MC FADDEN (USA) 6-5
BRONZE: Muhammet Nuri KOTANOGLU (TUR) df. Ramazan Ishak SARI (TUR) 6-0

GOLD: Zahid VALENCIA (USA) df. Mark HALL (USA) 11-0
BRONZE: Myles Najee MARTIN (USA) df. Clayton Steven PYE (CAN) 12-2