World Championships preview in men's freestyle at 74 kg/163 lbs.

By Richard Immel, USA Wrestling | Aug. 08, 2017, 3:36 p.m. (ET)
Photo: Olympic champion and three-time World champion Jordan Burroughs after winning the U.S. World Team Trials in Lincoln, Neb. Photo by Tony Rotundo, WrestlersAreWarriors.com.

Video: Jordan Burroughs at World Team training camp


Date of competition: Saturday, August 26

The always-fierce 74 kg/163 lbs. weight class will be heated once again come the World Championships in Paris, France, with numerous World and Olympic medalists vying for the crown.

All eyes will be on American legend Jordan Burroughs as he attempts to recapture the throne following a stunning non-medal performance at last year’s Olympic Games.

Burroughs, a 2012 Olympic champion and three-time World champion, owns a striking 146-5 Senior-level record entering Paris. Two of his losses came at the Rio Games, the only international tournament in which he has not medaled, leaving many with the question of how Burroughs will respond.

His post-Olympic return began at the World Cup held in Kermanshah, Iran, where he went 4-0 against top-notch competition. Burroughs then won his fourth U.S. Open title, picked up a stellar win over World silver medalist Sosuke Takatani of Japan in Times Square, made his seventh-straight World team and cruised to gold at the Grand Prix of Spain.

The U.S. World Team Trials was widely-considered the greatest American wrestling event of all-time, largely due to Burroughs epic three-match championship series against Kyle Dake. Burroughs was at the end of his rope after losing match one to Dake, and trailing in the second period of match two. Remarkably, he navigated the comeback to take matches two and three to win his spot in Paris.

The Burroughs of old appears to be back and in full gear as the World Championships approach. Burroughs currently boasts the No. 4 World ranking and will be tough for anyone to match in two weeks.

Looking at the list of fellow contenders, Russia’s Khetik Tsabolov looks to be the largest obstacle in Burroughs’ path. World No. 5 Tsabolov will replace 2016 Olympic silver medalist Aniuar Geduev at 74 kg for Russia. Tsabolov has won every freestyle World Championships event he has entered, no matter the age division. His top achievement was a World gold in 2014.

It should be noted that defending 74 kg Olympic champion Hassan Yazdanicharati of Iran has made the move up to 86 kg/189 lbs. In his stead, powerhouse Iran will send World No. 18 Peyman Yarahmadi, who holds World medals from the Cadet and Junior levels.

Olympic bronze medalists Yabrail Hasanov of Azerbaijan and Soner Demirtas of Turkey return to the field as heavy medal favorites.

World No. 3 Hasanov has been a strong contender on the Senior scene for the better part of a decade. Since 2009, he has earned two World bronze medals and six medals at the European Championships, on top of his Olympic bronze from Rio. Hasanov gets the nod over European silver medalist Murad Suleymanov, who slots in at World No. 9.

Demirtas is the highest ranked wrestler at 74 kg in the UWW World Rankings at No. 2, and holds the No. 1 seed for the World Championships. He was the European champion for the second-straight year.

Asian champion and fan favorite Bekzod Abdurakhmanov of Uzbekistan will be in the mix to nab a medal in Paris. He owns the No. 6 World ranking following a gold-medal outing at the Asian Championships. Abdurakhmanov was a World bronze medalist in 2014 and finished in fifth-place at the 2016 Olympic Games.

Asian runner-up Muslim Evalev of Kyrgyzstan has gold-medal potential given recent events. At World No. 7, he topped the Islamic Solidarity Games field that included Demirtas, Abdurakhmanov, Hasanov and Yarahmadi. He also defeated Tsabolov for the Yasar Dogu gold this year.

Cuba’s Livan Lopez Azcuy is looking to get back on the medal stand for the fifth-time in his career. Lopez Azcuy slots in at No. 13 in the World Rankings after striking gold at the Cerro Pelado International this year. He has won three World medals in addition to an Olympic bronze in 2012.

Two-time World bronze medalist Ali Shabanov of Belarus is back in the 74 kg mix and looks strong following a gold medal at the Waclaw Ziolkowski Memorial last month. Shabanov currently holds the No. 11 World Ranking.

Japan’s Takatani comes into the World Championships unranked due to lack of competition this year, but is another medal hopeful to keep an eye on. Takatani won silver at the 2014 World Championships and finished in seventh place at last year’s Olympic Games.

Other notables to keep an eye on are Grand Prix of Spain champion Zelimkhan Khadjiev of France, European bronze medalist Grigor Grigoryan of Armenia, World No. 17 Jumber Kvelashvili of Georgia and 2014 Military World champion Galimzhan Userbaev of Kazakhstan.

Three of the four seeded athletes are expected to be entered in the field. Demirtas holds the top seed, with Abdurakhmanov coming in as the No. 2 seed and Khadjiev slotting in as the No. 3 seed. Yazdanicharati was awarded the No. 4 seed, but will not enter at 74 kg.

This weight category will be contested on the last day of men’s freestyle action, Aug. 26. The tournament will begin at 10 a.m. local time, with finals scheduled for 7 p.m. Paris is situated six hours ahead of U.S. Eastern Time. 

A live stream of the World Championships, as well as brackets for each weight, will be provided to U.S. residents on Trackwrestling.com.

UWW World Rankings
1. Aniuar Geduev (Russia)
2. Soner Demirtas (Turkey)
3. Yabrail Hasanov (Azerbaijan)
4. Jordan Burroughs (United States)
5. Khetik Tsabolov (Russia)
6. Bekzod Abdurakhmanov (Uzbekistan)
7. Muslim Evalev (Kyrgyzstan)
8. Akhmed Gadzhimagomedov (Russia)
9. Murad Suleymanov (Azerbaijan)
10. Grigor Grigoryan (Armenia)
11. Ali Shabanov (Belarus)
12. Kakhaber Khubezhty (Russia)
13. Livan Lopez Azcuy (Cuba)
14. Zelimkhan Khadjiev (France)
15. Avtandil Kentchadze (Georgia)
16. Zhiger Zakirov (Kazakhstan)
17. Jumber Kvelashvili (Georgia)
18. Peyman Yarahmadi (Iran)
19. Galimzhan Userbaev (Kazakhstan)
20. Jevon Balfour (Canada)

World Championships Seeds
1. Soner Demirtas (Turkey)
2. Bekzod Abdurakhmanov (Uzbekistan)
3. Zelimkhan Khadjiev (France)
4. Hassan Yazdanicharati (Iran)

Recent World and Olympic Results
2016 Olympic Games
74 kg/163 lbs. – Gold – Hassan Yazdanicharati (Iran); Silver – Aniuar Geduev (Russia); Bronze – Yabrail Hasanov (Azerbaijan); Bronze – Soner Demirtas (Turkey); 5th – Bekzod Abdurakhmanov (Uzbekistan); 5th – Galimzhan Usserbaev (Kazakhstan); 7th – Sosuke Takatani (Japan); 8th – Zelimkhan Khadjiev (France); 9th – Jordan Burroughs (United States); 10th – Livan Lopez Azcuy (Cuba)

2015 World Championships
74 kg/163 lbs. – Gold – Jordan Burroughs (USA); Silver – Unurbat Purevjav (Mongolia); Bronze – Narsingh Yadav (India); Bronze – Aniuar Geduev (Russia); 5th – Zelimkhan Khadjiev (France); 5th – Alireza Ghasemi (Iran); 7th – Livan Lopez Azcuy (Cuba); 8th – Mihaly Nagy (Hungary); 9th – Jumber Kvelashvili (Georgia); 10th – Rashid Kurbanov (Uzbekistan)

2014 World Championships
74 kg/163 lbs. – Gold – Denis Tsargush (Russia); Silver – Sosuke Takatani (Japan); Bronze – Jordan Burroughs (USA); Bronze – Livan Lopez (Cuba); 5th – Rustam Dudaiev (Ukraine); 5th – Jumber Kvelashvili (Georgia); 7th – Rashid Kurbanov (Uzbekistan); 8th – Ashraf Aliyev (Azerbaijan); 9th – Krystian Brzozowski (Poland); 10th – Zaur Efendiev (Serbia)

2013 World Championships
74 kg/163 lbs. – Gold – Jordan Burroughs (USA); Silver – Ezzatollah Akbari (Iran); Bronze – Ali Shabanov (Belarus); Bronze – Rashid Kurbanov (Uzbekistan); 5th – Narasingh Yadav (India); 5th – Yakob Makarashvili (Georgia); 7th – Sosuke Takatani (Japan); 8th – Yabrail Hasanov (Azerbaijan); 9th – Grigor Grigoryan (Armenia); 10th – Yunieris Blanco Mora (Cuba)