Pictured above: Amateur heavyweights Daniel Galabarov (right) and Alexandre Chaddade (left) battle in the opening round competition at the 2016 IMMAF European Open in Prague.
For the past two years the IMMAF European Open heavyweight bracket has been dominated by two front runners; Bulgaria’s Daniel Galabarov and Sweden’s Irman Smajic. However, now, the door is open for a new top contender.
In 2016 Glabarov achieved the historic accolade of being 1 of 3 athletes to win back-to-back European Open titles for the first time alongside Bulgarian team mate Alexandra Toncheva (Women’s strawweight) and Swedish standout Rostem Akman (middleweight). The 26-year-old heavyweight now has the opportunity to be the first ever 3 time European Open champion with the latter pair having since announced their professional debuts.
Galabarov conquered the European Open in both 2015 and 2016, defeating Smajic on each occasion as the duo stormed their way to the 265lb finals. At the 2016 IMMAF World Championships, Galabarov was forced to settle for bronze with a split-decision defeat coming at the hands of France’s Allan Guichard while Smajic would later best the Frenchman in the World Championship final.
However, with Smajic having left to pursue new goals in the super-heavyweight division at this year’s European Open, the door is now open for a new top contender to establish themselves alongside Galabarov, the number-1 heavyweight seed. Who will grab the brass ring?
Smajic’s national team mate, Jonnie Andersson, will represent Sweden in the heavyweight bracket as a newcomer to the international IMMAF platform. He will be joined by Austria’s Lukasz Snaidecki who narrowly lost out to Galabrov at the 2016 Worlds via a split-decision after securing a TKO victory over the Czech Republic’s Tomas Svoboda.
2016 European Open bronze medalists Berat Berisha (Norway) and Ion Grigore (Romania) also return. The under sized Berisha pulled off a comeback triangle choke submission against towering Czech Robert Voves before losing out to Glabarov via a unanimous decision in the semi-finals. Grigore edged a split-decision over world silver medalist Allan Guichard before suffering a unanimous decision loss himself to Smajic.
Voves also returns as part of the Czech national team, in addition to Northern Ireland’s world bronze medalist Scott Trelford, plus tournament newcomers Daniele Matiddi (Italy) and Daniel Yankov (Bulgaria).
The 2017 IMMAF European Open Championships take place from March 29 to April 2 in Sofia, Bulgaria.
By IMMAF.org lead writer and website manager, Jorden Curran