In Taraz, Burroughs puts on a double-leg show
Friday, November 3, 2023 - 17:47 By Vinay Siwach
TARAZ, Kazakhstan (November 3) -- The talk around Jordan BURROUGHS's (USA) return to 74kg was dominated by his weight cut. After spending three years at 79kg, the United States star was returning to the Olympic weight class on Friday at the DA Kunayev tournament.
Burroughs put those doubts to rest by reaching the final at 74kg with three dominant wins in Taraz, Kazakhstan. He will now be looking to win his first gold at 74kg at any level since the 2020 Pan-Am Championships title.
"I'm adjusting to the new weight class, again," Burroughs said after his semifinal. "I have not been at 74kg for three years. I have got a lot of rust that I have to knock off. I have a lot of things working against me but I feel good."
Opening the tournament with a 9-2 win over Yerkhan BEXULTANOV (KAZ), Burroughs was quick on his feet with fake attacks and a change of directions. He combined that with go-behinds for takedowns and also used some turns. A forfeit got him a place in the quarterfinals against Zafarbek OTAKHONOV (UZB) which he won 9-2.
"Taking it one match at a time was my plan coming in here," he said. It's not going to be easy but confident that I could get the job done."
If those wins were not enough, Burroughs won his semifinal against Yerbarys SATYBALDY (KAZ) 10-0 to enter the final on Saturday. He will now take on former Asian champion Syrbaz TALGAT (KAZ), perhaps Burroughs' biggest test yet in his return.
"All things considered, my age, time of the year, what lies ahead of me, and what lay behind me, I feel solid," he said.
Jordan BURROUGHS (USA) outscored his opponents 28-3 in three bouts.
Since winning his record-breaking sixth world title in Belgrade last year, Burroughs has been dealt with some blows on the mat. In December, he lost to Ali SAVADKHOUI (IRI), his first career loss to an Iranian wrestler. Earlier this year, he failed to make the U.S. team at 79kg after losing to Chance MARSTELLER (USA).
Coach Brandon SLAY, who is with Burroughs in Taraz, finds a silver lining in him not making the world team in June.
"The silver lining, if there was one of not making the World Team, was he got to start his descent earlier," Slay said. "If wrestled in Serbia then he would have taken some time off after that and it would probably be a lot harder for him to get down to this weight so early."
The plan to wrestle at the DA Kunayev tournament was also part of the return to the Olympic weight class as there is no international competition left this year. Slay explained that the team did not come in with any game plan but wanted Burroughs to move more.
"I don't think there was necessarily a change in game plan," he said. "The main encouragement for him is to move his hands and move his feet because when he's moving, he's a very dangerous wrestler. He's hard to get his hands on. He's faking. He's really dangerous.
"When standing, just like most wrestlers, if you're a bird in a tree not moving at all, right, you're easier to shoot. So when he's floating and fluttering and moving his hands and feet then he's on track."
Jordan BURROUGHS (USA) will wrestle Syrbaz TALGAT (KAZ) in the final on Saturday.
Burroughs not only moved but he attacked every bout. He trapped opponents for gut-wrench, strapped the legs, countered their attacks, and scored stepouts at will. And while there was a two-kilogram exemption at the tournament, Burroughs was doing this at 74.4kg.
"We got a little workout with him this morning and he was 74.4kg," Slay said. "He's only 0.4kg over scratch. He's scoring lots of points, getting in on his shots, and then he's still moving his feet, even at the very end of the match. I'm pleased. I think we have to keep that [wrestle at 74kg in almost three years] in mind."
Burroughs certainly rolled back the years with his performance on Friday in an almost packed Taraz Arena. And like at every tournament he wrestles, it did not matter if he was tired after his bouts, everyone wanted a photo clicked with him.
"There are not a lot of 35-year-old people who are competing like me," Burroughs said. "Anytime I am at a tournament, I am a title threat. It's fun to be always in the race."
Burroughs is not only the title threat like always, there is one more thing in order.
"Doubles still work."
He will hope that it works on Saturday as well.