World Championships: Taylor continues dominance of Yazdani, bags 3rd gold
Sunday, September 17, 2023 - 20:57 By Ken Marantz
BELGRADE, Serbia (September 17) -- After beating rival Hassan YAZDANI (IRI) yet again, and handily at that, David TAYLOR (USA) dropped down to a knee and shook his head seemingly to say that even he doesn't know how he does it.
Taylor maintained the upper hand in one of the sport's great rivalries, capturing his third world title by securing a late fall in their freestyle 86kg final in the feature match on Sunday, the second day of the World Championships in Belgrade.
Taylor's victory was part of a productive day for the U.S. team, which won both of the non-Olympic titles up for grabs and gained another spot at the Paris Olympics when Mason PARRIS (USA) won a bronze medal at 125kg.
This year's championships offers the first five qualifying places for the 2024 Paris Olympics and includes a historic fifth-place playoff between the losers of the bronze-medal matches.
Iran has secured two tickets to Paris, including one when Amir Hossein ZARE (IRI) regained the 125kg throne with a one-sided victory over veteran Geno PETRIASHVILI (GEO).
In the 86kg final, Taylor, taking advantage of a successful challenge in the first period that changed the tenor of the match, scored a key takedown early in the second period to take a 7-3 lead.
As the two battled for openings, Taylor clamped down when Yazdani attempted a headlock throw to make it 9-3 and secured the fall with two seconds left for his fifth win in six career meetings between the two.
"It's so many micro-adjustments, it's amazing," Taylor said. "I have a plan, he has a plan, then you go out there and your plan works for about 20 seconds. When I wrestle him, it's like organized chaos, there's just so much happening. It becomes, honestly, a lot of instinct. It's what I've been doing for 25 years."
In the 86kg final, David TAYLOR 🇺🇸 scored four points over Hassan YAZDANI 🇮🇷 after a successful challenge.— United World Wrestling (@wrestling) September 17, 2023
After critical review of the call, the jury decided that that the red wrestler landed in danger (shoulders touching) and opened his hand while bule controlled the move. pic.twitter.com/8m250EJTOL
Taylor, who beat Yazdani in the Tokyo Olympic final, said the key to handling the Iranian star was to neutralize his dangerous underhook.
"He's so good in that position, and it's forced me to get better," Taylor said. "For me, the more action always benefits me. I feel like our matches had a lot of action...People will do the best they possibly can to slow me down, my job is to become a dynamic scorer and find ways to continue to score and that was what I was able to do."
Taylor's lone loss to Yazdani was a 6-2 decision in the 2021 final in Oslo, which he said he took to heart.
"He is an aggressive, fearless competitor," Taylor said. "In Oslo, I gave him an inch and he took a mile. I learned my lesson the hard way in that match. Every time I have to try to stay one step ahead."
Amir Hossein ZARE (IRI) celebrates after winning the 125kg final against Geno PETRIASHVILI (GEO). (Photo: UWW / Kadir Caliskan)
Zare split a pair of matches with Petriashvili in 2021, but there was no doubt who was the dominant figure in their clash for supremacy at 125kg.
Petrashvili had no answer for the tremendous pressure that Zare applied, as the Iranian had six stepouts in charging to an 11-0 technical fall in 4:48.
Zare, a bronze medalist last year, added to the world gold he won in 2021 as a 19-year-old, while Petrashvili, a two-time Olympic medalist, took home his eighth world medal. He has not won a gold since winning three straight from 2017 to 2019.
Zare knows that even though he secured the Paris berth, he faces tough competition in the battle to fill it himself.
"There are domestic competitors who are young and motivated and I will try to beat [them] and go to the Olympics and get the best result," he said.
Vitali ARUJAU (USA) won the 61kg gold medal at the World Championships. (Photo: UWW / Amirreza Aliasgari)
Meanwhile, Vitali ARUJAU (USA) and Zain RETHERFORD (USA) gave the U.S. gold in non-Olympic weight classes for their first world titles. Arujau triumphed at 61kg to join his father as a world champion, while Retherford powered to the 70kg title by beating the other Yazdani in action on Sunday.
Arujau, who won a national collegiate title this year for the Ivy League's Cornell University, prevailed 10-9 in a freewheeling 61kg final over 2021 world champion Abasgadzhi MAGOMEDOV (AIN) that featured lots of points on counter lifts and exposures.
"There were some things that went my way, and some things that didn't," Arujau said. "But when it comes to finding those openings and being able to chain together multiple attacks, that's where I really shine."
Arujau scored first with a stepout, then things really got wild. On a shot by Magomedov, Arujau went to a body lift while on his posterior, with both bodies twisting and swirling in a wild scramble. When the dust cleared and a challenge allowed the scoring to be sorted out, Arujau had a 7-4 lead.
In the second period, Magomedov gained an exposure and a challenge point to tie the match, but his lead on criteria quickly evaporated when Arujau scored a go-behind takedown. Arujau added a stepout to go up 10-7 before Magomedov picked up a stepout and caution point in the final seconds to account for the final score.
Arujau, a silver medalist on both the junior (U20) and cadet (U17) levels, made it to the top step of the senior podium to emulate his father Vugar ORUDIEV, who won two world titles at freestyle 48kg for the former Soviet Union, as well as a bronze medal at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics.
"It's been a long time coming," said Arujau, who was born in Belarus but grew up in the state of New York. "I'm 24 years old and this is the first time I can say I'm actually gaining a little ground [on him.]"
Zain RETHERFORD (USA) defeated Amirmohammad YAZDANI (IRI) in the 70kg to win his first world title. (Photo: UWW / Kostadin Andonov)
Retherford made it to the top of the podium after finishing second last year by putting together a solid 8-5 win over Amirmohammad YAZDANI (IRI) in the 70kg final.
Retherford dictated the pace of the match, using counters and a low single to score three takedowns and two stepouts. Yazdani, last year's world U23 silver medalist, had two slick takedowns, but otherwise offered little resistance in having to settle for the senior silver.
"I'm satisfied with how I felt wrestling, especially in the semifinal and final," Retherford said. "I came out a little nervous in the first round, but in the semifinal and final, I felt like I opened up, I felt like I was myself, battling for every score and had fun doing it."
Myles AMINE (SMR), San Marino's first Olympic medalists, secured a Paris Olympic berth by winning the bronze medal at 86kg. (Photo: UWW / Amirreza Aliasgari)
Akgul, Amine win bronzes, Olympic berths
In the bronze-medal matches, Taha AKGUL (TUR) earned his eighth world medal and the Olympic berth for his country that came with it, with an untroubled 5-0 victory over Daniel LIGETI (HUN) at 125kg.
Akgul, the defending champion who was dethroned in the semifinals by Zare, scored all of his points in the first period with a stepout, a takedown and a gut wrench, then stayed out of danger the rest of the way.
Assuming he fills the berth in Paris himself, Akgul will get a shot at a third Olympic medal, having won a gold in 2016 and a bronze in 2021.
Parris, a late U.S. team replacement after the withdrawal of Olympic champion Gable STEVESON (USA), capped an impressive performance with a 12-2 technical fall over Abdulla KURBANOV (AIN) for the other 125kg bronze and Olympic quota.
Parris, the 2019 world junior (U20) champion, stopped a Kurbanov back-drop for 4 and found four different ways to score takedowns as he established himself as a future force to be reckoned with.
At 86kg, American-bred Myles AMINE (SMR) added another entry into the wrestling history of tiny San Marino by becoming the country's first-ever senior world medalist by defeating Javrail SHAPIEV (UZB) 8-5. Two years ago, Amine gave San Marino its first-ever Olympic wrestling medal when he won a bronze medal in Tokyo.
In the other 86kg match, Azamat DAULETBEKOV (KAZ) pulled a rabbit out of his hat to score a buzzer-beating 5-3 win over Magomed SHARIPOV (BRN) and earn a bronze for the second year in a row.
Dauletbekov had gone ahead 2-1 with a second activity point when Sharipov used a slick duck under to score a takedown with 20 seconds left.
With the clock ticking down, Dauletbekov hit a last-ditch inside trip that sent Sharipov to the mat at the buzzer. A challenge was denied that the points were scored after time expired.
Taiyrbek ZHUMASHBEK UULU (KGZ) won his first world medal, bronze, by beating Kodai OGAWA (JPN) at 61kg. (Photo: UWW / Kostadin Andonov)
In the bronze-medal matches in the non-Olympic weights, Asian champion Taiyrbek ZHUMASHBEK UULU (KGZ) made sure a single-leg attempt by Kodai OGAWA (JPN) in the second period would only yield a stepout point, allowing him to come away with a 2-1 victory at 61kg.
Zhumashbek Uulu, in repeating his 4-1 victory over Ogawa in the quarterfinals at the Asian Championships in April, went ahead with an activity point in the first period and a stepout in the second.
Shota PHARTENADZE (GEO) added a world bronze to the European he won earlier this year with a dramatic 5-5 win over Valentyn BLIASETSKYI (UKR) in the other 61kg match.
Trailing 2-1, Phartenadze locked up both arms, went for broke and executed a 4-point back trip late in the second period. He would then give up a fleeing point, a stepout and a caution point, but it was not enough to cost him the victory.
At 70kg, European silver medalist Ramazan RAMAZANOV (BUL) denied Ernazar AKMATALIEV (KGZ) a third straight world medal, riding a 4-point trip to an 8-6 victory. Akmataliev had finished third last year and second in 2021.
Arman ANDREASYAN (ARM), last year's European silver medalist, chalked up five 2-point tilts after scoring a takedown in the second period, giving him a 12-1 technical fall over Asian U23 bronze medalist ABHIMANYOU (UWW) for the other 70kg bronze.
Shapiev, Kurbanov win first-ever fifth-place playoffs
Shapiev and Kurbanov became answers to a future trivia question when they became the first winners of the newly adopted fifth-place playoff to decide the fifth Olympic berth available at the World Championships.
Shapiev scored a stepout and two activity points to defeat Sharipov at 86kg, while Kurbanov scored three takedowns in an 8-3 victory at 125kg over Ligeti.
The playoff became mandated when the UWW decided to reassign one Olympic qualifying quota from the World Championships, which originally had six, to the final World qualifying tournament, which now will have three.
Day 2 Results
57kg (33 entries)
GOLD: Rei HIGUCHI (JPN) vs Stevan MICIC (SRB)
Semifinal: Rei HIGUCHI (JPN) df. Meirambek KARTBAY (KAZ) by TF, 11-0, 4:19
Semifinal: Stevan MICIC (SRB) df. Zelimkhan ABAKAROV (ALB), 6-2
61kg (33 entries)
GOLD: Vitali ARUJAU (USA) df. Abasgadzhi MAGOMEDOV (AIN), 10-9
BRONZE: Taiyrbek ZHUMASHBEK UULU (KGZ) df. Kodai OGAWA (JPN), 2-1
BRONZE: Shota PHARTENADZE (GEO) df. Valentyn BLIASETSKYI (UKR), 5-5
70kg (30 entries)
GOLD: Zain RETHERFORD (USA) df. Amirmohammad YAZDANI (IRI), 8-5
BRONZE: Ramazan RAMAZANOV (BUL) df. Ernazar AKMATALIEV (KGZ), 8-6
BRONZE: Arman ANDREASYAN (ARM) df. ABHIMANYOU (UWW) by TF, 12-1, 5:01
74kg (45 entries)
GOLD: Zaurbek SIDAKOV (AIN) vs. Kyle DAKE (USA)
Semifinal: Zaurbek SIDAKOV (AIN) df. Turan BAYRAMOV (AZE), 5-1
Semifinal: Kyle DAKE (USA) df. Georgios KOUGIOUMTSIDIS (GRE), 4-1
79kg (27 entries)
GOLD: Akhmed USMANOV (AIN) vs. Vladimeri GAMKRELIDZE (GEO)
Semifinal: Akhmed USMANOV (AIN) df. Orkhan ABASOV (AZE), 3-0
Semifinal: Vladimeri GAMKRELIDZE (GEO) df. Vasyl MYKHAILOV (UKR), 10-4
86kg (48 entries)
GOLD: David TAYLOR (USA) df. Hassan YAZDANI (IRI) by Fall, 5:58 (9-3)
BRONZE: Myles AMINE (SMR) df. Javrail SHAPIEV (UZB), 8-5
BRONZE: Azamat DAULETBEKOV (KAZ) df. Magomed SHARIPOV (BRN), 5-3
5th-Place Playoff: Javrail SHAPIEV (UZB) df. Magomed SHARIPOV (BRN), 3-1
92kg (27 entries)
GOLD: Rizabek AITMUKHAN (KAZ) vs. Osman NURMAGOMEDOV (AZE)
Semifinal: Rizabek AITMUKHAN (KAZ) df. Miriani MAISURADZE (GEO), 8-1
Semifinal: Osman NURMAGOMEDOV (AZE) df. Arash YOSHIDA (JPN) by TF, 10-0, 1:23
125kg (33 entries)
GOLD: Amir Hossein ZARE (IRI) df. Geno PETRIASHVILI (GEO) by TF, 11-0, 4:48
BRONZE: Taha AKGUL (TUR) df. Daniel LIGETI (HUN), 5-0
BRONZE: Mason PARRIS (USA) df. Abdulla KURBANOV (AIN) by TF, 12-2, 4:30
5th-Place Playoff: Abdulla KURBANOV (AIN) df. Daniel LIGETI (HUN), 8-3