Mirzazadeh ready for Kayaalp test in Alexandria
Monday, February 20, 2023 - 12:22 By Vinay Siwach
ALEXANDRIA, Egypt (February 17) -- Amin MIRZAZADEH (IRI) has watched his World Championships final against Riza KAYAALP (TUR) numerous times in the last five months to understand what he could have done differently to change the result.
The 1-1 victory for Kayaalp gave the Turkish legend his fifth world title, denying Mirzazadeh his first. But there were moments in the final that Mirzazadeh rues, a few that proved to be detrimental.
"I watched that final again," Mirzazadeh said. "There were some problems. I know that."
But not long after that bout, Mirzazadeh will get a chance to reverse the results albeit not in a World Championships. The two wrestlers head to the historic city of Alexandria, Egypt for the second Ranking Series event from February 23 to 26.
The two are among the 463 wrestlers who will compete at the Ibrahim Moustafa tournament and try to win the 1500 Swiss Francs on offer for the gold medal.
Starting this year, every Ranking Series will offer prize money -- 1500 Swiss Francs for gold, 750 Swiss Francs for silver and 500 Swiss Francs each for the bronze medalists. The tournaments will also allow two-kilogram weight tolerance.
Iran is bringing only four wrestlers but all are among the best in their weight classes. Mirzazadeh will be at 130kg while Mohammadhadi SARAVI (IRI) will wrestle at 97kg. Olympic champion Mohammaedreza GERAEI (IRI) is registered at 72kg while Meysam DALKHANI (IRI) is wrestling at 63kg.
Mirzazadeh, a native of Khozestan, is visibly smaller than Kayaalp which has hampered his quest to beat the latter. But over time, the Iranian believes that he has improved his strength and size which can help him beat Kayaalp in near future.
"The Turkish wrestler is experienced," Mirzazadeh said. "But I will use my power as I am younger."
In Belgrade, late in the final, Mirzazadeh managed to put Kayaapl in a tricky position and could have scored a go behind or a stepout. However, it was the strength of Kayaalp that prevented that from happening.
Another huge shortcoming for Mirzazadeh is his failure to score from par terre against Kayaalp. It is one of the reasons that despite getting the advantage for the third passivity, he asked Kayaalp to resume in standing and not par terre in the Belgrade bout.
"In the previous bouts, I was underweight," he said. "But now I have increased my weight and strength to a great extent, and I will definitely look more powerful in my next match."
The two have met twice before in their careers and a positive, if any, for Mirzazadeh is the improvement in his defense. At the Tokyo Olympics, Kayaalp managed to turn Mirzazadeh from par terre while the same did not happen at the Belgrade World Championships.
With the growing years, it may well be true that Mirzazadeh's physical strength increased while Kayaalp's conditioning takes a hit with age.
Despite all this, Kayaalp, who has been busy with relief work after the February 6 earthquakes in Turkiye and Syria, will still be the favorite to win the gold at 130kg.
The participation in relief work in the Hatay province of Turkiye may affect his preparation for his first tournament of the year, but with tons of experience on his side and the European Championships scheduled in two months, Kayaalp will still be a force to reckon with.
On the other hand, this well may be the best chance for Mirzazadeh to get a win over Kayaalp.
"We have the plans," the 25-year-old said. "We have been working in the off-season with my coach Sina TALEBVAND and now at the national camp in Tehran."
Irrespective of the result of this potential bout on February 23, the two wrestlers will get a dress rehearsal for their respective continental championships.
Kayaalp will have Iakobi KAJAIA (GEO), Zviadi PATARIDZE (GEO), Jello KRAHMER (GER) and Alin ALEXUC CIURARIU (ROU) in the field while Mirzazadeh will likely face Lingzhe MENG (CHN), NAVEEN (IND), Anton SAVENKO (KAZ), Alimkhan SYZDYKOV (KAZ) and Roman KIM (KGZ).
Kayaalp will be looking to extend his record title run at European Championships in April in Croatia as last year he won his 11th continental title.
But Mirzazadeh is waiting for a showdown at the World Championships, incidentally, which will be held in Stark Arena, Belgrade like last year.
"I will do my best to improve in terms of physical and technical preparation," he said. "My goal is to reach my best state and to be able to win the gold medal in the 2023 World Championship and after that in the 2024 Olympics."
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