Pan Am champs Biyarslanov, Veyre score impressive wins at Olympic boxing trials

Pan Am champs Biyarslanov, Veyre score impressive wins at Olympic boxing trials

MONTREAL — A confident Arthur Biyarslanov felt the Canadian Olympic boxing trials were all about taking care of business.

The Chechyan-born Toronto fighter did that in style, taking the first step toward competing at the 2016 Summer Games with a dominant victory over Brandon Leaman of St. John’s, N.L., on Thursday night.

“I was coming in to win but I wanted to do more — I wanted to stop my opponent,” said Biyarslanov, who battered Leaman but couldn’t put him down. “It didn’t go that way, but a win is a win.”

Biyarslanov, a gold medallist at the Pan American Games in Toronto this summer, is ranked 12th in the world among light welterweights and is considered Canada’s best hope for a men’s boxing medal at the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

He may face some of the same opponents at an Olympic qualifying tournament in March in Argentina. Holding the Pan Am gold medal will be a confidence booster.

“It gave me a lot of motivation,” he said. “It let me know that I was among the best fighters in the world. I showed that at the Pan Am Games and I believe I can get on the podium at the Olympics.”

The last night of the five-day trials at the Queen Elizabeth Hotel ballroom decided the 10 men and three women who will get a shot at qualifying for the 2016 Games. If they fall short in Argentina, the women get a second chance in May at an event in Kazakhstan and the men in June in Azerbaijan.

Another Pan Am Games gold medallist, women’s lightweight Caroline Veyre of Montreal, had little trouble dispatching Sabrina Aubin-Boucher of St-Jean-Sur-Richelieu, Que., by unanimous decision.

Another with a good shot of reaching the Olympics, Ariane Fortin of St-Redempteur, Que., downed Alison Greey of Toronto in a middleweight fight. Fortin, ranked third in the world, missed out on the 2012 Games in London after losing to Mary Spencer, who Greey upset in the semifinals this week.

National team coach was pleased to see his top fighters confirm their places as the best in their weight classes in Canada. He feels Canada has a good chance to send three women and two or three men to Rio, after only three qualified in 2012.

A dark horse is youngster Thomas Blumenfeld, an impressive lefthander who will turn 18-years-old on Dec. 26.

He dominated all three rounds against Evan Gillard of Oshawa, Ont., in a flyweight bout. There were no knockdowns, but Gillard needed standing eight-counts twice after taking heavy shots. Blumenfeld is a Montreal native who trains in Boston and is a dual U.S.-Canadian citizen.

“He used to fight with the U.S. as a youth and he came to us two years ago,” said Trepanier. “He has amazing potential.

“I think he’s a wild card for the Olympics.”

Another with a shot is heavyweight veteran Samir El-Mais of Calgary, who posted a difficult unanimous decision over Paul Rasmussen of Guelph, Ont.

It will likely be the 35-year-old El-Mais’ last shot at reaching the Olympics.

“I’ve been ranked top 10 in the world, I’m up there with those guys, and I’ve got to box like it and act like it,” said El Mais. “We’re going to put a lot of work into this.”

Veteran David Gauthier of St-Jean-Sur-Richelieu won a lightweight final over Rodolfo Valesquez of Hamilton and Guelph-based Sasan Haghighat-Joo earned a split decision over Josh Cameron of Windsor, Ont., in a welterweight bout.

Six fighters made the Canadian team on Wednesday night: world No. 2-ranked flyweight Mandy Bujold of Kitchener, Ont.; straw-weight Todd Napper of Welland, Ont.; bantamweight Kenny Lally of Victoria; middleweight Clovis Drolet of Quebec City; light heavyweight Petru Bulun of Calgary; and super-heavyweight Aaron Huggins of Toronto.

Bill Beacon, The Canadian Press

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