Pictured above: 2016 European Open Men’s lightweight medalists, from left to right – Lee Hammond (Silver, Ireland), Ferdun Osmanov (Gold, Bulgaria), Milad Ahady (Bronze, UK), Alexander O’Sullivan (Bronze, Ireland)
Last year 20-year-old Bulgarian Ferdun Osmanov triumphed over 22 rival competitors to be crowned the 2016 IMMAF European Open Men’s lightweight champion. In little over a week’s time he will look to retain the title as a total of 23 amateur lightweight competitors begin the tournament process all over again in a bid for the 2017 crown.
Osmanov will fight for a consecutive European Open gold medal, this time competing on home soil with the 2017 European Open taking place in Sofia, Bulgaria, from March 29 to April 2.
The 155lb prospect is a rich example of Bulgaria’s youth development and reaps the benefits of an amateur career. Osmanov first competed at the 2015 IMMAF World Championships in Las Vegas, USA, at the age of 18. He would lose out to eventual tournament winner, Josh Ellis, in the opening round of bouts. However, his development in amateur competition continued and Osmanov picked up a first international victory at the 2015 European Open, submitting Romanian Cristian Iorga before once again losing out to the eventual tournament winner, Jack Shore.
While undefeated in domestic competition, Osmanov holds a record of 9-3 on the international IMMAF platform and, in fact, has only ever lost out to former champions; Team UK veterans Ellis and Shore, plus South Africa’s Pieter Roadulf Roets who bested Osmanov in the 2016 World Championship final. Osmanov had excelled through the 2016 Worlds with victories in each of his 4 preliminary contests. His ascension to the top of the Men’s lightweight division was completed when he edged a split-decision win over highly touted Irishman Lee Hammond, his biggest individual victory, in the final of the 2016 European Open in Prague, Czech Republic, and in doing so became the number 1 ranked lightweight athlete.
In the busiest division of the entire 2017 European Open Championships, Osmanov will be among a wealth of lightweight amateur veterans from Austria, Bulgaria, Italy, Finland, Portugal, Norway, France, Hungary, Albania, the UK, Luxembourg, Mexico, Ireland, Sweden, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Bahrain, Lebanon and Russia.
For more information on the Men’s lightweight competitors and the 2017 European Open visit MyNextMatch.com.
By IMMAF.org lead writer and website manager, Jorden Curran