Starcevic Stuns Olympic Champion Kim, Makes Fifth Zagreb Open Finals Appearance

By Eric Olanowski

ZAGREB, Croatia (February 9) -  Bozo STARCEVIC, the Zagreb, Croatia native, stunned Olympic champion KIM Hyeonwoo (KOR), 8-2 in the quarterfinals and ultimately moved into the Zagreb Open finals for the fifth consecutive year. 

On Saturday, Starcevic avenged his 6-4 2016 Olympic bronze-medal bout loss to Kim, where the Korean wrestler claimed his second overall Olympic medal.

In their quarterfinals meeting on Saturday, Starcevic built a commanding 6-0 lead before Kim used an arm-spin to pick up his lone takedown, closing the deficit to 6-2. Starcevic somehow came away from Kim's arm-spin attempt with an exposure of his own and ultimately moved into the semifinals win an 8-2 victory.

In the semifinals, the hometown wrestler defeated Russia's Rafael IUNUSOV, 5-1 and locked up his fifth consecutive trip to the Zagreb Open finals. He's walked away victorious in each of his previous four trips to the Zagreb Open finals. 

Starcevic will wrestle Yunus BASAR (TUR) in tomorrow's 77kg gold-medal bout. Basar is one of four Turkish wrestlers who made it to Sunday night's Zagreb Open finals. Ekrem OZTURK, Kerem KAMAL, and Emrah KUS round out the other Turkish finalists. 

Ozturk went undefeated in the round-robin competition and will wrestle Iran's 2017 junior world champion Poya Soulat DAD MARZ for the 55kg gold medal. Both wrestlers were 2-0 on the day. 

Turkey's two-time junior world champion Kerem KAMAL made his first senior finals. He'll wrestle Iran's Milad Ali REZANEZHAD in the 60kg finals. (Photo: Kadir Caliskan) 

Turkey's two-time junior world champion Kerem Kamal outscored his three opponents 26-3 and made it to his first career senior finals. His best finish prior to making Sunday's Zagreb Open finals came at the 2018 Dan Kolov - Nikola Petrov Tournament when he finished with a bronze medal.

Kamal will wrestle Iran's Milad Ali REZANEZHAD in the 60kg finals. Sunday's gold-medal bout will be Rezanezhad's first senior finals appearance. 

Emrah Kus, the reigning 2018 world runner-up, rounds out the four Turkish finalists. Kus bulldozed his three opponents on the opening day of competition in Zagreb and snagged three straight technical superiority victories, outscoring his trio of opponents 25-0. 

He'll lace up against Bulgari's three-time European bronze medalist Daniel ALEKSANDROV for the 82kg gold medal. 

Reigning world runner-up Elmurat TASMURADOV (UZB) will wrestle defending Zagreb Open champion Mihai MIHUT (ROU)  in the 67kg finals. (Photo: Kadir Caliskan ) 

Meanwhile, Uzbekistan tallied the second most finalists with three.

They're led by reigning world runner-up and Rio Olympic bronze medalists Elmurat TASMURADOV (UZB). Tasmuradov will take on one of the sports brightest rising stars and defending Zagreb Open champion Mihai MIHUT (ROU) in the 67kg gold-medal bout.

Though he didn't place at last year's world championships, Mihut did win last year's U23 and senior European championships, and also claimed titles at the Thor Masters, the Kristjan Palusalu Memorial, and the Ion Corneanu & Ladislau Simon Memorial. 

Islomjon BAKHRAMOV and Muminjon ABDULLAEV are Uzbekistan's remaining pair of finalists. 

Bakhramon will see America's Xavier JOHNSON (USA) in the 63kg finals. 

At 130kg, Abdullaev scored huge back-to-back wins, giving Uzbekistan their third finalist. In the quarterfinals, Abdullaev scored a match-winning takedown with one minute left and knocked off 2017 world bronze medalist Yasmani ACOSTA FERNANDEZ (CHI), 2-2. He followed his quarterfinals win up by blasting U23 world silver medalist Osman YILDIRIM (TUR), 9-0 in the semifinals, setting up a finals date with Norway's Oskar MARVIK. 

Viktor LORINCZ (HUN) was one of two Hungarian finalists. He'll wrestle Sweden's Kristoffer BERG in tomorrow's 87kg finals. (Photo: Martin Gabor) 

Meanwhile, Hungary and Bulgaria each had two finalists. 

Bulgaria's pair of finalists were Daniel Aleksandrov (previously mentioned) and reigning world runner-up Kiril MILOV, who will take on Russia's lone finalist, Ilia BORISOV (RUS), for the 97kg gold medal. 

Hungary's pair of finalists were Robert FRITSCH (HUN) and Viktor LORINCZ (HUN). 

Fritsch picked up back-to-back wins over world bronze medalists to put himself in the Zagreb Open finals for the first time. In the quarterfinals, Fritsch edged reigning world bronze medalists Aik MNATSAKANIAN (BUL), 3-3 on criteria. Then, he beat U23 world bronze medalist Cengiz ARSLAN (TUR), 6-3 and locked up his spot in the 72kg finals with Ramaz ZOIDZE (GEO).

Hungary's second Zagreb finalist is Viktor Lorincz. Lorincz scored an extremely important 3-0 semifinals win over fellow Hungarian Erik SZILVASSY (HUN). Lorincz and Szilvassy, the 2017 U23 world champion, were in a tight battle for Hungary's 2019 Astana World Championship spot. Lorincz' semifinals win gives him a leg up on Szilvassy and some breathing room heading into the second Greco-Roman Ranking Series event, the Hungarian Grand Prix.  

Lorincz will meet Sweden's Kristoffer BERG in tomorrow's 87kg finals. 

The final day of wrestling at the Zagreb Open, United World Wrestling first Greco-Roman Ranking Series Event, beings on Sunday at 10:30, with the finals beginning at 17:30 (local time).

For news, interviews, highlights and behind-the-scenes clips, you can following United World Wrestling on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Youtube. 


Sunday (February 10)

8:00 - 2nd-day weigh-in, all weight categories (No weight tolerance!) Sport Hall
10:30 - Repechage bouts and bronze medal matches (all categories)
17:30 - Opening ceremony and Final matches (all categories)


55kg (Round-Robin) 
GOLD -  Ekrem OZTURK (TUR) vs. Poya Soulat DAD MARZ (IRI) 

GOLD - Kerem KAMAL (TUR) vs. Milad Ali REZANEZHAD (IRI) 

Semifinals - Kerem KAMAL (TUR) df. Ivan LIZATOVIC (CRO), 11-1 
Semifinals - Milad Ali REZANEZHAD (IRI) df. Erik TORBA (HUN)  , 6-3 

GOLD - Islomjon BAKHRAMOV (UZB) vs. Xavier Tramain JOHNSON (USA) 

Semifinals - Islomjon BAKHRAMOV (UZB) df. Firuz TUKHTAEV (UZB) , 5-0
Semifinals -  Xavier JOHNSON (USA) df. Dawid ERSETIC (POL), 9-0

 Mihai Radu MIHUT (ROU) vs. Elmurat TASMURADOV (UZB) 

Semifinals  -  Mihai Radu MIHUT (ROU) df. Danijel JANECIC (CRO)  , 5-1
Semifinals -  Elmurat TASMURADOV (UZB) df. Enes BASAR (TUR), 13-1 

Ramaz ZOIDZE (GEO) vs. Robert Attila FRITSCH (HUN) 

Semifinals - Ramaz ZOIDZE (GEO) df. Mateusz BERNATEK (POL), 11-2 
Semifinals - Robert Attila FRITSCH (HUN) df. Cengiz ARSLAN (TUR), 6-3 


Semifinals -  Yunus Emre BASAR (TUR) df. Mohammad NAGHOUSI (IRI) , 10-0  
Semifinals -  Bozo STARCEVIC (CRO) df. Rafael IUNUSOV (RUS), 5-1  

GOLD - Daniel ALEKSANDROV (BUL) vs. Emrah KUS (TUR) 

Semifinals - Emrah KUS (TUR) df. Burhan AKBUDAK (TUR), 8-0 
Semifinals -  Daniel Tihomirov ALEKSANDROV (BUL) df. Aivengo RIKADZE (GEO), via injury default 

GOLD -  Viktor LORINCZ (HUN) vs. Kristoffer Zakarias BERG (SWE) 

Semifinals - Kristoffer Zakarias BERG (SWE) df. Yoan Danielov DIMITROV (BUL), 6-3 
Semifinals -  Viktor LORINCZ (HUN) df. Erik SZILVASSY (HUN), 3-0 

GOLD - Ilia BORISOV (RUS) vs. Kiril Milenov MILOV (BUL) 

Semifinals - Ilia BORISOV (RUS) df. Tracy Gangelo HANCOCK (USA), 3-1 
Semifinals - Kiril Milenov MILOV (BUL) df. Jahongir TURDIEV (UZB), 3-1  

GOLD -  Oskar MARVIK (NOR) vs. Muminjon ABDULLAEV (UZB) 

Semifinals -  Oskar MARVIK (NOR) df. Marko KOSCEVIC (CRO), 4-1 
Semifinals - Muminjon ABDULLAEV (UZB) df. Osman YILDIRIM (TUR), 9-0