Are the European region ready to face the rest of the world next year? Well, time will show – but of course with the 53rd All Japan Open fresh in mind, the excitements just raises. Japan will be a challenge for all, but we can not forget regions as Central Asia – Kazakhstan and Russia as well..
We could repeat what was written presenting the women divisions, because some of it will include the men’s categories as well – and yes it is about the categories coordinate the weight classes in the WC and in the EC, and jut to be clear: the categories in the EC works fine.
Toughs about participation in the World Championship. We realize that it is a balance between top and width, but we need a variation up to a certain point. This topic appears in all sports, if one nation dominates the sport/style, the interest in total will drop. When the masses loose interest, the rating drops, the number of viewers drop, sponsors and media will follow. It,s a balance – but it is not a good thing when the number of viewers drop closer we come to a final. Make it a World Championship – not a handful nations championship.
Men lightweight -65 kg – The runner up from last time, Andrei Zinchenko / Georgia must be counted inn. Last time he followed Harutaka Okazaki trough extensions before a 2-3 flag decision ended it. Zinchenko can fight all day and all night long with a pace beyond insane. Got company with two country fellowmen Sergo Movesyan – and a new up and coming star in Data Putkaradze. Ukraine, in with two fighters Taras Havrylets and Bohdan Lemishko. Havrylets has been around for many years, he did also enter the EC podium in 2016 – and again in 2021 / Georgia. His ten year younger team mate, Lemishko entered the EC podium for his first time this summer senior (Is U21-EC Champ) – and got his WC ticket. Last name Eltaj Humbatov, representing Germany. Humbatov – far as we know, used to represent Azerbaijan. We have also seen him fight in the category above – including advancing in the European Championship.
Men middleweight -75 kg have a very good mix of fighters and styles – and nations for that matter. Lasha Ozbetelashvili / Georgia, reign European Champion, won the -75 kg category a home soil, and continued his improvement from before the pandemic, also being the EFKO EC champion just before many countries had to lock down all activity. Ali Hayder / Sweden have an very interesting style and great energy at the mat. Being “all over” Europe, constantly searching and training with the very best gives of course great results. Hungarian raising star Milán Móczó / Hungary, has despite his young age challenged the top level of his category. Gathering experience and merits across organisations, and can “hang” with the best everywhere. Igor Lamot / Poland has fought the best for many years, and kept on going trough the changes of the categories and the other fighters that come and go – went to a “war” with mention Hayder EC in Tbilisi this year – fought all the extensions with a high class. Severyn Palii / Ukraine, also a young fighter coming in by wining the last qualifying. Thar said, we have seen him on the U-21 EC podium – at the top, so the level are proven, now it must be raised even higher. David Mskhaladze / Georgia took the last spot in the category, as he reached the final in the tournament now in December. Doing so he will be the youngest fighter – 18 years. Many saw Domas Sutkus / Lithuania as the “safe bet” in this category, well David Mskhaladze advanced in the tournament, leaving the favorite out in the semifinal. The potential and future will be interesting to follow!
-85 kg category light Heavyweight. Salahat Hasanov / Azerbaijan the reign World Champion from 2017 (now he enters a higher weight-class) Also the only one from the European region to win in 2017, since rest of the categories went to Japan. Hasanov has kept his level at the highest, incredible tough and able to pull out victories in even fights. That happen last in Georgia, in the fight against another qualified fighter: Juras Sokolovas / Lithuania. Sokolovas on his side, coming stronger and stronger into the top level, proven great stamina in long fights and in many cases he also have a god reach/height advantage. Illia Serhienko / Ukraine managed to each the 3rd place in EC Georgia, and by that into the World Championship. This will be his greatest test up to now, not reaching this level earlier. Justinas Kvietka / Lithuania, a well known fighter from many tournaments. Haven’t been to often on the EKO EC podium, but have the skills at the experience to be in this “company” Unorthodox in his style, good stamina and nice variation in his finished technique such as Ushiro geri’s. Gergely Fekete / Hungary just came of a win in the U-21 EC this November, and manage to reach the final in the qualifying tournament now in December. Fekete will gain World Championship experience, that will come in handy in the future, only twenty years old.… and speaking of twenty ..Valeri Dimitrov / Bulgaria don’t need an introduction, we are way past that. For many of us, the question is not if he will win or loose, an how the result will turn out for his sake – we just love to see him fight. To predict what will happen, will be almost as hard to win 20 European Championships, but we are very exciting what Dimitrov will bring to the table this time – as always! In World Championships, it will also be interesting to see how the different fighters across regions will challenge each other. And Dimitrov as we know always seems to be ahead of his opponents.
In the heaviest category, +80 kg, we have almost a clean Lithuanian team. Only Kostiantyn Inozemtsev / Ukraine has been able to join this category besides the Lithuanian fighters. Inozemtsev on his side has showed very good technical fighting, nice combos and good compositions. Edgard Sečinski and Eventas Gužauskas are both reign EC champions. Sečinski in -95 kg and Gužauskas in +95 kg. Top of that, Gužauskas also took the EFKO Open Weight 1st place recently. These two are the two most merited in this category – regarding to the European region. That said, both with record besides the region, among top 8 in the World Open Karate Championship in Japan. Orestas Abazorius and Antanas Klibavičius – both seen on the podium in several occasions, across organisations and in notable tournaments as European Championships. Also impressing by Abazorius in the 12th World Championship, made it to the second day before facing reign world champion in weight Shota Maeda. Both, Orestas Abazorius and Antanas Klibavičius,almost always advances in the tournaments, and it will be interesting to see their level nor up against the rest of the world. Paulius Žimantas has been the runner up in several major tournaments: EC weight category, EC Open Weight and EFKO weight category. We believe he can be a “dark horse” in the category. Looking at how he takes on some of the absolute best fighters, despite young age – we think bigger things is on his way. We cant forget that he clip’d Mazur with a knee in Kokoro Cup, feeling the heat – delivered right. When we saw him fought Kazakh powerhouse, Yakovlev in the WT 2019, clearly a potential – adding that Yakovlev was 3rd in 2017, World Championship in weight – the same championship we are talking about now.
The host nation, Poland do also have their representatives in these categories, and top level fighters that we know from several championship are listed up.At the time we have three out of four names: Daniel Sternik, Marek Odzeniak and Marek Wolny.
Daniel Sternik will fight in the lightweight division, -65.kg. Marek Odzeniak will fight in the light heavyweight category -85.kg, and Marek Wolny in the heaviest category +85.kg. The -75.kg category are not ready yet. All three are very solid fighters, with lot of experience on a high level. This means regular fighters at a high level, such as European Championships and World Championships both in open weight and in weight classes. The one with the heaviest merits will be the one in the heaviest category: Marek Wolny. Poland got a strong national team, everybody know what it takes. The preparations that will be made, we can only imagine