Live Blog, U23 World Championships Day 5: FS 57kg, 65kg, 70kg, 79kg, 97kg

By United World Wrestling Press

BELGRADE, Serbia (November 5) -- As we move towards the business end of the tournament, freestyle action takes center stage at the U23 World Championships in the Serbian capital. Wrestlers from 57kg, 65kg, 70kg, 79kg and 97kg will be on the mat for their qualification and semifinal Friday.


The semifinals for freestyle will begin at 1645 local time and we will be back for that. Thank you for following and join us for the next session.

1520: What a bout closing out the session! Vazgen TEVANYAN (ARM) was down 3-4 with about 15 seconds left and then he scores two points via takedown on the edge. Refs white paddle it but Armenia challenge and win it. 5-4 to Tevanyan with nine seconds left. He wins 5-4

1510: Aliakbar FAZLIKHALILI (IRI) and Akmataliev match each other for attacks but it's the latter who has a 4-2 lead. But Fazlikhalili continues to attack. Akmataliev continues to counter. It's 10-6 Akmataliev with 10 seconds to go. It stays that way and Akmataliev makes his way to the semifinals at 70kg

1505: Georgios PILIDIS (GRE) was trailing 0-2 with just seven seconds left but he scored a takedown and leveled it 2-2 to earn the victory and move into the semifinal of 65kg.

1450: Two big matches coming up as Ernazar AKMATALIEV (KGZ) is wrestling on Mat A while Georgios PILIDIS (GRE) in on Mat C. 

1425: Syrbaz TALGAT (KAZ) led 8-6 against Rezuan KAZHAROV (RUS) when the two arm-locked each other and went out of bounds. The refs called it no points but the Kazakhstan corner challenged it asking for two points. Challenge lost and it became 8-8 with Talgat leading on criteria. Kazharov then scores a final second takedown to win 10-8

1410: Jonathan AIELLO (USA) for the win! He scores a takedown to lead 4-4 on criteria and then hangs on to it to win against Shamil GADZHIALIEV (RUS). He will wrestle in the 97kg semifinals

1400: Strong start from Oslo Worlds silver medalist Ernazar AKMATALIEV (KGZ) at 70kg. He gives up two exposure points but has no trouble scoring 12 unanswered points to win 12-2 and reach the quarterfinals

1355: Georgios PILIDIS (GRE) is keeping it simple here. He scores a controlled 4-1 win over PARVINDER (IND). Great defense from the former cadet world champion

1330: The quarterfinals at 97kg are set.

1. Zuriko URTASHVILI (GEO) vs Amirali AZARPIRA (IRI)
2. Radu LEFTER (MDA) vs Milan KORCSOG (HUN)
3. Shamil GADZHIALIEV (RUS) vs Jonathan AIELLO (USA)
4. Sahil AHLAWAT (IND) vs Danylo STASIUK (UKR)  

1315: Ali SAVADKOUHI (IRI) continues his winning run and moves into the quarters with a 10-0 thrashing of Oktay HASAN (BUL).

1250: Mohammadnezhadjavan with a big four after Glory's exposure but the USA wrestler still leads. A lot of scramble there and it's 11-5 for Glory. The Iran wrestler has less than a minute to win this. He gets a takedown and then a gut to make it 11-9. He is looking for another gut and gets it on the edge. 11-11. 18 seconds to go. He defends the criteria lead

1240: Patrick GLORY (USA) and Ahmad MOHAMMADNEZHADJAVAN (IRI) are in an intense battle but it's Glory who leads at the half way mark 5-1

1220: Vazgen TEVANYAN (ARM) had a tough one to start against Shamil USTAEV (GER) but he hangs on for a 3-1 win. A takedown the difference

1200: Toktogul Uulu with a hard-fought win over Arushanian! They traded a takedown each but the Kyrgyzstan wrestler led 4-3 with ten seconds remaining. Arushanian tries hard to get a step out but Uulu circles back as time expire

1145: Pilidis gave up the lead 2-2 on criteria but he finds a final attack with a double leg and score two points to win 4-2. On the other side on Mat A, junior Euro champion Erik ARUSHANIAN (UKR) is facing Aibek TOKTOGUL UULU (KGZ).

1130: Junior world silver Ziraddin BAYRAMOV (AZE) gets a walkover in his first bout. We have to wait a little more to see him in action on the mat. Meanwhile, Tokyo Olympian Georgios PILIDIS (GRE) is making his way on Mat C

1120: Ibragim ABDURAKHMANOV (RUS) could not have asked for a better World Championships debut as he beats Colin REALBUTO (ITA) 11-0 with a strong leg lace

1110: On Mat B, Asian silver medalist Ali SAVADKOUHI (IRI) scores four straight points to beat VICKY (IND) 4-4 in the opening round at 79kg. It was a little tense for Iran there

1100: Junior Euro bronze Ramaz TURMANIDZE (GEO) is up against Saurabh IGAVE (IND). Two points to start for Igave and then he adds a four-point throw. Turmanidze starts the second period with a four-point and then adds a takedown to make it 7-6. Igave has locked a double leg and he will finish leading 8-7. The Georgian with a front headlock for exposure for two. India reversal and it's 10-9 Igave. Georgia challenge

1030: Welcome to day five of the U23 World Championships in Belgrade. The freestyle wrestlers are ready to begin the day. Another rainy day in the Serbian capital. We will have a few repechage bouts before moving to the qualifications.


Burroughs, with eyes on 7th title, makes USA team for Worlds

By Vinay Siwach

NEW YORK, USA (June 9) -- Soon after he earned his spot to represent the USA at the World Championships, Jordan BURROUGHS (USA) was asked about his decade-old international career.

Burroughs pulled out one of the many classic responses from his book. "It's difficult, but that's what we do, we do hard things," Burroughs said. "We are presented with a challenge, we prep for the challenge, with wrestling we overcome the challenge."

It's true for Burroughs.

Over the years, the London Olympic champion has been in many challenging situations both on and off the mat. But Burroughs has managed to win most, if not all. Whether it's returning from an injury to win the world title again or recovering from the loss at Rio Olympics, he has beaten domestic stars and upcoming wrestlers alike in the USA and made the world team.

Wednesday was Burroughs' attempt to make his 11th world/Olympic team and the 33-year-old did so by beating Chance MARSTELLER (USA) at 79kg in a best-of-three final in New York, USA.

“No one can beat me in match three,” Burroughs said. "[I have] a ton of respect for Marsteller. But it comes down to a lot of faith in our training, coaching staff and partners. I was prepared for a third match. But I also know that if someone beats me, especially in a series, it's mentally overwhelming for them. They have to re-prepare to do it twice in a row."

After winning the Pan-Am Championships in May, Burroughs had said that he is aware that it would be extremely tough for him to win against any wrestler.

"I am not sure who I am going to compete against," he said in Acapulco. "But I do know that whoever it is, it's going to be extremely tough. I am ready to take on any challenge, new challenge, or familiar challenge. One thing is clear -- it's not going to be easy."

Marsteller had the chance to pull off an upset of his life after forcing a decider as he won the second bout 2-2. But Burroughs used his experience to win the third 5-0 against the younger opponent to make the USA team for the Belgrade World Championships.

Jordan BURROUGHS (USA)Jordan BURROUGHS (USA) defeated Chance MARSTELLER (USA) to make the USA team at 79kg. (Photo: Levi Ventura)

On the cusp of his seventh world title, Burroughs is entering a territory no American wrestler has before. John SMITH (USA) and Adeline GRAY (USA) are tied at six titles each and Belgrade will be a perfect opportunity for Burroughs to go past them.

The 33-year-old knows it as well. It has been his dream since winning the London Olympics. So he wants to stay focused on that goal.

"[I want to] stay focused as much as possible entering this realm of seven-time world champion," he said. "I always talk about being the greatest American wrestler of all time. But now I start to put myself in the class of all-time greats across all styles across the world. I think that's a cool thing to me that I am kind of entering this era where I have to be recognized worldwide as one of the best wrestlers. That's exciting for me. I just want to make a name for myself. Growing up I was not even the best wrestler in my street. It's hard managing to be the best wrestler in the world many times over."

Burroughs has done it six times in 10 years. He was an outsider when he won his first World Championships in 2011. A year later as a 23-year-old, he was at the London Olympics, winning the gold to be regarded as the future of the sport in the USA.

"I didn't know what to expect in Istanbul 11 years ago, wow," Burroughs had said in February. "The blessing was that I was young and naive and knew what I had. Denis TSARGUSH (RWF) was a reigning world champion in the weight class, and I had not wrestled him before. I had him in the second round."

He lost the first period to Tsargush. But in what was the beginning of a career full of comebacks, he won the second and third periods and the quarterfinal. In the final, Sadegh GOUDARZI (IRI), cheered by the loud Iranian fans, was the favorite. But Burroughs stunned him in straight periods. He also trademarked double-leg during that competition.  

"I was a little nervous, to be honest," Burroughs said. "Going to that tournament gave me a lot of confidence going forward because after winning that with very little freestyle experience, I thought about what I can do if I really train full time. The body of work has been something I have been grateful for."

And if anyone thought that the World title in 2011 was a fluke, he went on to beat the same wrestlers, in the semifinals and finals, in London.

Jordan BURROUGHS (USA)Jordan BURROUGHS (USA) after winning the Final X in New York. (Photo: Levi Ventura)

But a lot has changed since then. He is older and has commitments off the mat. He is also the father of four kids and has to devote time to his family. Going by the Twitter of his wife Lauren, he has done that successfully.

Another change Burroughs has noticed is the amount of time his opponents spend studying him as there is a lot of content available.

"The biggest difference now is that I have many obligations outside of wrestling than 2011," he said. "Now I am very familiar, there are a lot of videos on me, guys watching me wrestle. But now they want to knock me off. So I understand the position I am in."

Yet, he has managed to knock off half of the world that tried to take him down.

Burroughs, who was often termed as cocky early in his career, has grown into a wrestler who is intelligent, sharp and someone who takes fitness very seriously. His double-leg still seems to be top-class. It's not easy to remain at the top level for a time Burroughs has been.

"Faith," he said. "Consistency, surrounding yourself with great people. It's a blessing to prevent injuries but also you know just work ethic, nutrition, recovery and a lot of focus. I take care of my body. I do the right things to make sure that I stay and maintain a certain level of fitness. But also I have just been able to avoid injuries and a lot of that is luck."

While a few talk about it, the challenges he faces in the wrestling training room with age has made Burroughs make better choices regarding fitness.

"I am a much better wrestler now," he said. "I am sharper, more intelligent, more savy. Just all-around a better athlete. But again, I am older. I am 10-12 years in. It's different. You start to feel the aches and pain of longevity. I have got a lot of miles in my body in this sport."

He also acknowledged to have not sustained any career-threatening injury.

"I've been blessed to not sustain anything crazy," he said. "I had a broken ankle, torn calf. But other than that I kind of dodged a lot of bullets in the crazy positions I have been in."

While it seems that Burroughs has had much success, he has had his fair set of challenges and heartbreaks on the way.

Like the one in Rio or losing to Zaurbek SIDAKOV (RWF) at back-to-back World Championships in 2018 and 2019. Or when he failed to make the USA team for the Tokyo Olympics.

But every time he has his back against the wall, Burroughs finds a way to bounce back stronger.

Remember the 2017 World final against the then Russia-represent Hetik TSABALOV (SRB)? Burroughs answered his critics with that epic performance which also helped the USA win the team title in 2017. He managed to win back-to-back bronze medals in Budapest and Nur-sultan.

Internationally, he has lost to only two wrestlers since Rio Olympics. Frank CHAMIZO (ITA) and Sidakov have defeated Burroughs twice each in the last six years.

But since moving up to 79kg, he is yet to drop a bout. Last year in Oslo, he managed to capture his fifth world title and first in a new weight class at 79kg. While it is not at the Olympics, the category gave Burroughs a chance to enjoy the process again.

"People don't take it [79kg] seriously because it's not an Olympic weight," he said. "It's given me some rejuvenation late in my career. I'm 33-years-old and will be 34 in four months [now one]. I don't have to cut [too much weight]. I get to eat the things I want and training is more fun for me."

After winning the title in Oslo, Burroughs began 2022 with a gold medal at the Yasar Dogu in Istanbul. It was after winning the title that he confirmed that he is going for another shot at the Olympics. 

"I want another shot at Dake, and then another shot at Sidakov,” Burroughs said. "I am going to be moving down. I cannot promise that I will make the [USA] team, but you know that I am going to give my best."

As he has never backed down from challenges in the past, Burroughs is getting ready to overcome this one as well.

"It's effort, attitude and a warrior-like spirit," he said. "I am going to do my best to make the team. It's going to be a tough cut for me, but I'm committed."