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2022 Wrestling World Championships 65kg Preview

Photo: Tony Rotundo

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65kg has to be possibly the craziest weight at the world championships these past few years. Firstly we have to address two of the best wrestlers in the field being out of the championships.

Reigning Olympic Champ and 2018 World Champion Takuto Otoguro will be out of the World Championships due to injury. Along with this 2019 World Champion and Tokyo bronze medalist Gadzhimurad Rashidov will be out of the Championships as well due to Russia’s ban from competition.

Even with these guys out of the World Championships the 65kg field is extremely stacked. Some older competitors such as Haji Aliyev, Bajrang Punia, and Ismael Musukaev looking to grab their first or another title. Then you have some young guys with Vazgen Tevanyan and Yianni Diakomihalis who are looking to prove their worth on the senior level this year.

65kg World Championship Seeds-

United World Wrestling has released their top 8 seeds at each weight class via Instagram. Seeds are determined by points that wrestlers earn throughout the year going to different events such as the ranking series.

#1 Haji Aliyev (Azerbaijan)

#2 Bajrang Punia (India)

#3 Sebastian Rivera (Puerto Rico)

#4 Ismael Musukaev (Hungary)

#5 Alibek Osmonov (Kyrgyzstan)

#6 Krzysztof Bienkowski (Poland)

#7 Vazgen Tevanyan (Armenia)

#8 Munir Aktas (Turkey)

Looking at these top 8 seeds the top 4 wrestlers seem pretty obvious. Haji Aliyev the 3x World Champion, Bajrang Punia the Olympic bronze medalist, Ismael Musukaev currently the top wrestler at this weight class, and Vazgen Tevanyan who has wins over Aliyev and Musukaev.

The Main Competitors-

Vazgen Tevanyan-

This might just the time for Tevanyan to show out here at the world championships and win his first World title. The 22 year old went 0-1 at the Olympic Games last year pulling the reigning World Champ Rashidov in the first round. Rashidov would be upset by evntual champ Otoguro in the semis eliminating Tevanyan from the tournament.

He took silver at the U23 World Championships falling to current number 1 wrestler at 70kg Ernazar Akmataliev. I do believe he was a top 4 wrestler at the World Championships last year but fell to eventual bronze medalist Tömör-Ochiryn Tulga of Mongolia in the quarterfinals 2-1.

Tevanyan has wins over some of the best guys in the field such as Haji Aliyev and Ismael Musukaev and in dominant fashion.

Should the brackets play out how they look he will see Bajrang Punia in the quarterfinal round who is a good matchup for him. Should be matched up against Sebastian Rivera in the semifinal round and Haji Aliyev in the gold medal match.

This seems like the perfect time for the youngster to make this mark on the senior level this year.

Haji Aliyev-

Haji has been one of the best wrestlers in the world for his entire career winning 3 World titles during his time on the senior level. He claimed his first international medal all the way back in 2012 at the world cup.

At 31 years old he will probably be on his way out pretty soon and he will be looking to snag a couple more gold medals before he goes. With Otoguro and Rashidov out it seems more possible than ever with Otoguro being the one to defeat him in the Olympic finals.

However with this being said Haji has not looked the greatest recently getting teched by 4 seed Ismael Musukaev at the European Championships. All of his World titles are down at 61kg while his two Olympic medals are at 57kg (bronze 2016) and 65kg (silver 2020).

He will have his hardest task in the semifinals as he will have to take on the man who teched him Ismael Musukaev. If he gets past him then best case scenario he sees Bajrang Punia or Sebastian Rivera as he already dominated Punia at the Olympics last year.

It is very possible that Haji wins his 4th World title soon in Belgrade but with his performance recently it is hard to see that happening unless he can show up on point.

Bajrang Punia-

Bajrang is a fan favorite amongst the crowd and one of the most liked wrestlers in the world. However he may have underperformed expectations in the past.

He will face Vazgen Tevanyan in the quarterfinals of the World Championships which will be the match he needs to win to get a clear shot to the finals. If he sees Sebastian Rivera in the semifinals that in theory should be in Punia’s favor but looking at his performance most recently at the Commonwealth Games I don’t know what to expect.

With all of this being said he is one of the best wrestlers in the world and has been one of them for a while now. With his pace and ability to keep coming at you over and over again it would be just dumb to count him out of this.

Ismael Musukaev-

Is this Musukaev’s time to finally win a World title? A lot of people seem to think so with his performance recently and him showing a pretty solid gas tank.

He has wins over guys like Takuto Otoguro, Haji Aliyev and more. It just comes down to whether he can get it done or not in Belgrade.

Looking at the draw he is presented with he will see Haji Aliyev in the semifinals who he has previously had close matches with. Last time around at the European Championships it was all Musuakev winning by technical superiority over the 3x World Champion.

Should he make the finals the guys he will most likely be seeing are Bajrang Punia or Vazgen Tevanyan. Tevanyan already put a beating on him when they wrestled in the past but who knows the way he has been wrestling now. He was unable to medal at the Olympic Games falling to Otoguro in the first round and Rashidov in the bronze medal match.

Guys Looking To Break Into The Top 4-

Alibek Osmonov-

Osmonov will be looking to break onto the podium again this year. Sounds weird to say that being he was a bronze medalist just last year, but with the guys who are coming back he will need a big tournament if he wants to make that happen here.

He lost to Amir Yazdani 5-4 in the world semifinals and was able to take out Krzysztof Bienkowski of Poland 4-1 to win the bronze medal.

Yianni Diakomihalis-

If you are from the United States you know how good Yianni can be. However his international showings have not been the greatest. He failed to medal at the World Championships but running into Tevanyan in the second round was a pretty bad draw to have.

He has a win over Bajrang Punia in the past at the Beat The Streets NYC event so he can definitely hang with these guys. It all really will depend where he gets seeded into this bracket and how he performs.

Predictions-

I am torn between a few of these guys but I definitely thing Tevanyan makes it out of the bottom half of this bracket with Bajrang Punia and Sebastian Rivera should he make the semifinals.

For the top half that is where it becomes a question with Haji Aliyev and Ismael Musukaev. As much as this match was one sided last time Musukaev has been way to inconsistent to have him as a lock here. I will go with him to make the finals however and this seems like the right time for Vazgen Tevanyan to make his mark on the senior level with a world title.

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