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World Championships preview in Greco-Roman wrestling at 80 kg/176 lbs.

By Richard Immel USA Wrestling | Aug. 25, 2014, 1:42 p.m. (ET)

 Joe Rau at the Greco-Roman World Team Trials Phase II
in Fargo, N.D. David Peterson, Minnesota USA Wrestling Photo.
VIDEO: Joe Rau (Minnesota Storm) vs. Ben Provisor (NYAC) at 2014 World Team Trials

Date of Competition: Saturday, September 13

The 80 kg/176 lbs. Greco-Roman weight class at the World Championships is perhaps the most wide open of all eight weights to be contested in Tashkent, Uzbekistan.

Similar to the 70 kg/154 lbs. weight class, this newly introduced weight of 80 kg/176 lbs. will see a mesh of athletes shuffling up and down from last years weight categories to try and stake their claim as best in the world.

Currently ranked No. 1 in the world by FILA is European Champion Peter Bacsi of Hungary. Basci has previously competed at four World Championships and two Olympics, but has yet to reach the medal stand in either tournament.

Basci scored international medals at both Golden Grand Prix events and the Yadegar Imam Cup in 2014, in addition to his European gold.

At 31 years of age, Basci is entering the later stages of his career. Look for look to make a serious push for the Gold medal in Tashkent.

Two-time World Champion Selcuk Cebi of Turkey will look to take home World gold for the third time in his illustrious career come September.

Cebi is currently ranked second in the world by FILA, but has posted shaky results dating back to last year’s World Championships where he came in 21st place overall at 84 kg/185 lbs.

Since making the transition down to this weight class, Cebi has earned a bronze medal at the Vehbi Emre Tournament and silver medal at the European Championships, losing to Basci in the finals. He placed 11th at the Golden Grand Prix in March.

After taking the post-Olympic year off in 2013, Iranian Habibollah Akhlaghi is returning to the fold and looks to be a serious threat to win the World Championship at 80 kg/176 lbs.

In 2014 Akhlaghi is undefeated in international competition, taking first at the Golden Grand Prix and World Cup events. He won a bronze medal at the World Championships in 2009.

Azerbaijani Elvin Mursaliyev has had a promising 2014, scoring four medals during international competition.

Mursaliyev comes in at No. 4 in the FILA World Rankings, largely due to winning the Golden Grand Prix Final in Baku, Azerbaijan last month. He defeated the top-ranked Basci in the finals in Baku. He also won bronze medals at the World Cup, European Championships and Vehbi Emre this year.

Rounding out the top five in the FILA World Rankings is Belarusian Viktor Sasunovski. Claiming top prize at the Vehbi Emre and earning a silver medal at the Wladyslaw Pytlasinski Cup has propelled Sasunovski to his current place in the FILA World Rankings.

2012 Olympic bronze medalist Aleksandr Kazakevic of Lithuania is looking to regain his place on the world podium after a disappointing 20th place finish at the World Championships one year ago.

Russia will send out youngster Bekhan Ozdoev at the Worlds in Tashkent. Ozodoev was selected out of a deep pool of Russian’s at 80 kg/176 lbs. that included three of the current top 13 ranked wrestlers in the world.

Ozdoev won the Ivan Poddubny Tournament this year and finished in fifth place at the European Championships.

Kyrgyzstan’s Yanarbek Kenyeev is the top prospect to win gold from the Asian region. He topped a strong field at the Asian Championships in March, defeating Yousef Ghaderian of Iran in the finals.

Manning the 80 kg/176 lbs. spot for the U.S. is up and coming Joe Rau.

Rau has made vast improvements since arriving on the Greco-Roman scene in 2013. He won a silver medal at the 2013 NYAC International and finished in 10th place at the World University Championships last month.

Rau won his spot on the U.S. World Team in Fargo, N.D. in July, defeating 2012 Olympian Ben Provisor in a gritty finals series, two matches to none.

If Rau can overcome the inexperience factor, his large frame and top-level strength could carry him deep into the relatively even field at 80 kg/176 lbs.

1. Peter BACSI (HUN)
2. Selcuk CEBI (TUR)
3. Habibollah AKHLAGHI (IRI)
6. Aleksandr KAZAKEVIC (LTU)
7. Aleksander SHYSHMAN (UKR)
10. Bekhan OZDOEV (RUS)
11. Petar BALO (SRB)
12. Tadeusz MICHALIK (POL)
13. Evgeni SALEEV (RUS)
14. Yanarbek KENYEEV (KGZ)
15. Yousef GHADERIAN (IRI)
16. Azamat KUSTUBAEV (KAZ)
17. Jonas BOSSERT (SUI)
18. Michael WAGNER (AUT)
19. Doszhan KARTIKOV (KAZ)
20. KIM Jun-Hyung (KOR)