USA Greco

Ildar to Face RUS on Possible Road to Bronze

ildar hafizov, tokyo olympics
Ildar Hafizov -- Photo: John Sachs

Overnight in the United States, as fans who could not keep their eyes open any longer slumbered peacefully, Cuban Luis Orta Sanchez (CUB) steamrolled ’18 World silver Victor Ciobanu (MDA) and advanced to the 2020 Olympic finals at 60 kilograms. By doing so, Orta Sanchez granted American Ildar Hafizov (Army/WCAP) a new lease on life in the bracket. Hafizov, 33, had been defeated by Orta Sanchez in the round-of-16 but will now take the mat once again in Tokyo, this time with the chance for a bronze medal hanging in the balance.

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Hafizov has a difficult task in front of him in the repechage round. ’18 World Champion Sergey Emelin (RUS) — who like Hafizov was felled by Orta Sanchez on Sunday — offers an even blend of polished technique and blasting par terre offense. A highly-decorated competitor whom in addition to his World gold also owns a Senior silver (’19) and pair of Euro titles, Emelin entered action in Tokyo as the #2 seed and a bracket favorite alongside reigning World champ Kenichiro Fumita (JPN). Fumita has held up his end of the bargain and will battle Orta Sanchez in tomorrow’s final.

A Hafizov victory over Emelin will mean a match-up with Ciobanu. The Moldovan workhorse downed both #3 seed Kerem Kamal (TUR) and Zholaman Sharshenbekov (KGZ) prior to his encounter with Orta Sanchez.

Dennis Hall’s commentary on Hafizov in Tokyo thus far:

“How much time did they want to give the Cuban on top? Apparently, they didn’t know. As much as he needed? And Ildar still defended him well.

“Did you notice how they didn’t give Ildar a chance on top in the second (against Orta Sanchez) even though the Cuban was running from him for three minutes? He was already blocking him. Ildar was called for passive in the first period for grabbing two-on-one’s. This is ridiculous. They’re just picking guys. Ildar did nothing wrong, he just wasn’t given a chance to wrestle. And then how do you give a phantom caution to a guy for getting a front headlock? ‘Over the throat’? That’s not dangerous. I’d much rather have a guy going over the throat than jamming his arm into my carotid (artery). Choking? Give me a break.  Ildar didn’t have the head long enough either time for the ref to make that call, anyway. But the worst part is that he (Hafizov) didn’t even get a chance from top in the second. Give both wrestlers the opportunity to score, especially when the other guy in the second period is outworking him.”

On Hafizov vs. Emelin

“Push-pull-snap. Ildar has to beat the heck of him and wear him out. He can win this match, but he’s got to make it physical and try to beat on him as much as he can.”

Hafizov faces Emelin in the 60-kg repechage round on Monday, August 2 at 11:00am local time (Sunday, July 31, 10:00pm ET). 


August 1-4 — Tokyo, JPN


60 kg: Ildar Hafizov (Army/WCAP)
LOSS Luis Orta Sanchez (CUB) 5-0
vs. Sergey Emelin (RUS)

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