Tony Rotundo, WrestlersAreWarriors.com

Ildar Hafizov (60 kg) at the 2022 Senior World Championships.

USAWGreco-RomanInternational2023 World Championships Preview

Senior Worlds Preview: Greco-Roman lighter weights (55 kg, 60 kg, 63 kg, 67 kg, 72 kg)

by Savannah Asmann, USA Wrestling

Athletes hailing from around the globe will converge in Belgrade, Serbia, to participate in the 2023 Senior World Championships. As the anticipation builds and the competition approaches, this year's tournament will exhibit the finest athletes in the world engaging in high-intensity battles on the wrestling mat.

Our preview series continues with a spotlight on Greco-Roman, scheduled to kick off from September 21 to September 24. In this installment, we'll preview the first five weight classes (55 kg, 60 kg, 63 kg, 67 kg, and 72 kg).

55 kg

Photo by: Justin Hoch
Brady Koontz, the U.S. representative at 55 kg, will compete Sept. 21-22 at the 2023 World Championships.

Top Contenders

The 55 kg weight class is a non-Olympic weight that has had three World Champions from three nations. In 2022, 2018 World Champion Eldaniz Azizli of Azerbaijan was the first athlete to win a second title in this weight class. Azizli previously won the title in 2018, the first year since the rebirth of the weight class, and is the No. 1 seed entering the 2023 event. Azizli won bronze medals in the 2019 and 2021 World Championships, silver at the 2023 European Championships and was the 2022 European champion. The second-seeded wrestler in this weight class is Nugzari Tsurtsumia of Georgia who won the World title in 2019. Tsurtsumia won a World silver medal in 2022, World bronze medals in 2018 and 2021, and a bronze at the 2023 European Championships.

2022 World bronze medalist Jasurbek Ortikboev of Uzbekistan is the No. 3 seed. Ortikboev claimed silver at the Asian Championships in 2020 and bronze at the Asian Championships in 2022. Claiming the No. 4 seed is Poya Dad Marz of Iran, who placed eighth at the 2022 World Championships. Dad Marz won gold at the 2023 Asian Championships and the 2023 U23 World Championships. The fifth seed went to Rudik Mkrtchyan of Armenia, who placed seventh at last year’s World Championships and fifth at the 2023 European Championships. 2023 European Championships bronze medalist Denis Mihai of Romania earned the No. 6 seed for his Senior World Championship debut.

The No. 7 seed was claimed by Artiom Deleanu of Moldova, who placed ninth at his first Senior World Championships in 2022, while the No. 8 seed went to Marlan Mukashev of Kazakhstan who looks to make his World Championship debut. Some medalists could come from the unseeded athletes such as 2023 African champion Mohamed Dridi of Algeria, 2022 U20 World bronze medalist Taiga Onishi of Japan and 2021 U23 World Bronze medalist Adem Uzun of Turkey. 2022 Senior Pan American champion Brady Koontz is the representative at 55 kg for the United States.

Preliminary Seeds

No. 1 - Eldaniz Azizli (Azerbaijan)

No. 2 - Nugzari Tsurtsumia (Georgia)

No. 3 - Jasurbek Ortikboev (Uzbekistan)

No. 4 - Poya Soulat Dad Marz (Iran)

No. 5 - Rudik Mkrtchyan (Armenia)

No. 6 - Denis Florin Mihai (Romania)

No. 7 - Artiom Deleanu (Moldova)

No. 8 - Marlan Mukashev (Kazakhstan)

Recent World Results

55 kg/121 lbs. - Gold - Eldaniz Azizli (Azerbaijan); Silver - Nugzari Tsurtsumia (Georgia); Bronze - Yu Shiotani (Japan); Bronze -. Jasurbek Ortikboev (Uzbekistan); 5th - Max Nowry (USA); 5th - Amangali Bekbolatov (Kazakhstan); 7th - Rudik Mkrtchyan (Armenia); 8th - Poya Soulat Dad Marz (Iran); 9th - Fabian Schmitt (Germany); 10th - Ekrem Ozturk (Turkey)

55 kg/121 lbs. - Gold – Ken Matsui (Japan); Silver – Emin Sefershaev (RWF); Bronze – Eldaniz Azizli (Azerbaijan); Bronze – Nugzari Tsurtsumia (Georgia); 5th – Ekrem Ozturk (Turkey); 5th – Norayr Hakhoyan (Armenia); 7th – Sardarbek Konushbaev (Kyrgyzstan); 8th – Khorlan Zhakansha (Kazakhstan); 9th – Max Nowry (USA); 10th – Fabian Schmitt (Germany)

Note: 55 kg is a non-Olympic weight class, so there are no results from the 2020 Olympic Games held in Tokyo, Japan.

60 kg

Photo by: Justin Hoch
Ildar Hafizov, the U.S. representative at 60 kg, will compete Sept. 22-23 at the 2023 World Championships.

Top Contenders

Leading the group as the No. 1 seed in the 60 kg weight class is 2022 World silver medalist Edmond Nazaryan from Bulgaria. Nazaryan also won the European Championships in 2022 and 2023. The No. 2 seed is Zholaman Sharshenbekov of Kyrgyzstan, defending champion at 60kg and 2018 World silver medalist who was also seventh in the 2020 Olympics.

The No. 3 seed is 2022 European champion Kerim Kamal of Turkey, who was a three-time U20 World champion (2017, 2018, 2019). Kamal fell in the quarterfinals last year and placed seventh at the Senior level before winning the U23 World title in 2022. Right behind Kamal is the No. 4 seed, Liguo Cao of China who enters with experience. Cao placed eighth at last year’s tournament and earned bronze at the 2023 Asian Championships.

Adding to the intrigue at 60 kg are the No. 5 seed Razvan Arnaut of Romania and the No. 6 seed Mehdi Mohsen Nejad of Iran. Arnaut placed 10th at the 2022 World Championships at 63 kg, 13th at the 2023 European Championships and fifth at the 2022 European Championships. Mohsen Nejad finished 11th at the 2022 World Championships and was a 2022 World Cup champion for Iran.

The No. 7 seed is Haithem Mahmoud of Egypt, a 2023 African Champion and 2020 Olympian, placing ninth at the Tokyo games. Rounding out the top eight seeded athletes is Nihat Mammadli of Azerbaijan, a bronze medalist at the 2023 European Championships and 2022 World Cup silver medalist.

The U.S. representative at 60 kg is veteran Ildar Hafizov, a two-time Olympian and multiple World Team member for the USA and Uzbekistan. Hafizov placed 10th at the 2022 World Championships and looks to earn his first World medal in 2023. Others to watch in this weight class are 2023 World bronze medalist Fumita Kenichiro of Japan and 2023 European silver medalist Victor Ciobanu of Moldova.

Preliminary Seeds

No. 1 - Edmond Nazaryan (Bulgaria)

No. 2 - Zholaman Sharshenbekov (Kyrgyzstan)

No. 3 - Kerim Kamal (Turkey)

No. 4 - Liguo Cao (China)

No. 5 - Razvan Arnaut (Romania)

No. 6 - Mehdi Mohsen Nejad (Iran)

No. 7 - Haithem Mahmoud Ahmed Fahmy Mahmoud (Egypt)

No. 8 - Nihat Zahid Mammadli (Azerbaijan)

Recent World and Olympic Results

60 kg/132 lbs. -  Gold - Zholaman Sharshenbekov (Kyrgyzstan); Silver - Edmond Armen Nazaryan (Bulgaria); Bronze - Aidos Sultangali (Kazakhstan); Bronze - Kenjiro Fumita (Japan); 5th - Krisztian Kecskemeti (Hungary); 5th - Murad Mammadov (Azerbaijan); 7th - Kerem Kamal (Turkey); 8th - Liguo Cao (China); 9th - Haithem Mahmoud Ahmed Fahmy Mahmoud (Egypt); 10th - Ildar Hafizov (USA)

60 kg/132 lbs.- Gold – Victor Ciobanu (Moldova); Silver – Zholaman Sharshenbekov (Kyrgyzstan) ; Bronze – Stepan Maryanyan (RWF); Bronze – Murad Mammadov (Azerbaijan); 5th – Gevorg Gharibyan (Armenia); 5th – Maksim Kazharski (Belarus); 7th – Ayata Suzuki (Japan); 8th – Mehrdad Mardani (Iran); 9th – Irakli Dzimistarishvili (Georgia); 10th – Gyanender Gyanender (India)

60 kg/132 lbs. - Gold - Luis Orta Sanchez (Cuba); Silver - Kenchiro Fumita (Japan); Bronze- Salike Walihan (China); Bronze - Sergei Emelin (ROC); 5th - Lenur Temirov (Ukraine); 5th - Victor Ciobanu (Moldova); 7th - Zholaman Sharshenbekov (Kyrgyzstan); 8th - Armen Melikyan (Armenia); 9th - Haythem Mahmoud (Egypt); 10th - Ali Reza Nejati (Iran)

63 kg

Photo by: Justin Hoch
Xavier Johnson, the U.S. representative at 63 kg, will compete Sept. 23-24 at the 2023 World Championships.

Top Contenders

There is good talent among the athletes set to compete at 63 kg at the World Championships. At the forefront as the No. 1 seed is Leri Abuladze of Georgia. Abuladze is a 2021 U23 World champion and earned a silver medal at the 2021 and 2022 Senior World Championships and gold at the 2023 European Championships.

Chasing closely as the No. 2 seed is Hrachya Poghosyan of Armenia, a 2023 European Championships bronze medalist and 2022 U23 World bronze medalist. The No. 3 seed is Iman Mohammadi of Iran, a 2023 Asian Championships gold medalist and 2022 World Cup champion. Seeded fourth is Mukhamedali Mamurbek of Kazakhstan, a 2023 Asian Championships bronze medalist.

Shermukhammad Sharibjanov of Uzbekistan is the fifth seed and is a 2022 U23 Asian champion and a 2023 Senior Asian silver medalist. The No. 6 seed is Ivan Lizatovic of Croatia who was eighth at the 2023 European Championships and 15th at the 2022 World Championships. Murad Mammadov of Azerbaijan is the No. 7 seed, having earned a bronze at the 2021 World Championships. Mammadov placed fifth at the 2022 World Championships. The eighth seed went to Madiyar Maltekbaev of Azerbaijan as he competed in two ranking series events this year.

Athletes to watch that aren’t seeded include 2021 Pan American champion Xavier Johnson of the U.S. competing at his first Senior World Championships, 2023 European bronze medalist Abu Amaev of Bulgaria and 2020 Olympian Etienne Kinsinger of Germany. Last year’s champion Sebastian Nad of Serbia is not registered to compete at the 2023 Senior World Championships.

Preliminary Seeds

No. 1 - Leri Abuladze (Georgia)

No. 2 - Hrachya Poghosyan (Armenia)

No. 3 - Iman Hossein Khoon Mohammadi (Iran)

No. 4 - Mukhamedali Mamurbek (Kazakhstan)

No. 5 - Shermukhammad Sharibjanov (Uzbekistan)

No. 6 - Ivan Lizatovic (Croatia)

No. 7 - Murad Mammadov (Azerbaijan)

No. 8 - Madiyar Maltekbaev (Kazakhstan)

63 kg/138.75 lbs. - Gold - Sebastian Nad (Serbia); Silver - Leri Abuladze (Georgia); Bronze - Taleh Mammadov (Azerbaijan); Bronze - Erbatu Tuo (China); 5th - Hrachya Poghosyan (Armenia); 5th - Ali Reza Nejati (Iran); 7th - Luis Alberto Orta Sanchez (Cuba); 8th - Victor Ciobanu (Moldova); 9th - Tynar Sharshenbekov (Kyrgyzstan); 10th - Razvan Arnaut (Romania)

63 kg/138.75 lbs. - Gold - Meysam Karamali Dalkhani (Iran); Silver - Leri Abuladze (Georgia); Bronze - Kensuke Shimizu (Japan); Bronze - Lenur Temirov (Ukraine); 5th - Taleh Mammadov (Azerbaijan); 5th - Erik Torba (Hungary); 7th - Hanjae Chung (Korea); 8th - Deniz Menekse (Germany); 9th - Mihai Radu Mihut (Romania); 10th - Ibragim Labazanov (RWF)

Note: 63 kg is a non-Olympic weight class, so there are no results from the 2020 Olympic Games held in Tokyo, Japan.

67 kg

Photo by: Justin Hoch
Alejandro Sancho, the U.S. representative at 67 kg, will compete Sept. 23-24 at the 2023 World Championships.

Top Contenders

The 67 kg weight class has the potential to steal the spotlight at the 2023 Senior World Championships. Two Olympic Champions from the 2020 games are featured in this weight class, No. 6 seed Mohammadreza Geraei of Iran (67 kg) and No. 8 seed Luis Orta Sanchez of Cuba (60 kg).

Last year’s champion Mate Nemes of Serbia is seeded third, behind No. 1 seed Joni Khetsuriani of Georgia and No. 2 seed Hasrat Jafarov of Azerbaijan. Khetsuriani was the 2023 European Championships runner-up and place fifth at the 2022 World Championships. Jafarov has notable credentials as he was a U23 World Champion in 2021 and placed fifth at the Senior World Championships that same year. He earned bronze at the 2022 World Championships and won the 2023 European Championships, defeating Khetsuriani in the final match.

Mihai Mihut of Romania is the fourth seed. Mihut placed fifth at the 2023 European Championships and 13th at the 2022 World Championships. The fifth seed, Murat Firat of Turkey, is another wrestler to watch out for. 2022 European champion Firat saw a fifth place finish at the 2021 and 2022 World Championships and the 2023 European Championships.

Geraei of Iran, the sixth seed, is a proven champion, winning a gold medal at the 2020 Olympics and the 2021 World Championships. He earned a gold medal at the 2019 U23 World Championships and a silver medal at the 2022 Senior World Championships. The seventh seed is Amantur Ismailov of Kyrgyzstan, a 2022 World bronze medalist and 2021 Asian bronze medalist.

Rounding out the top seeds is Sanchez of Cuba, a strong competitor that made the jump from winning a gold medal at the 2020 Olympics at 60 kg. The 2023 Pan American Champion at 67 kg competed at 63 kg at the 2022 World Championships and placed seventh.

Non-seeded competitors to watch are U.S. representative Olympian and two-time age-group World Team member Alejandro Sancho and 2020 Olympic silver medalist and 2023 European bronze medalist Parviz Nasibov of Ukraine.

Preliminary Seeds

No. 1 - Joni Khetsuriani (Georgia)

No. 2 - Hasrat Jafarov (Azerbaijan)

No. 3 - Mate Nemes (Serbia)

No. 4 - Mihai Radu Mihut (Romania)

No. 5 - Murat Firat (Turkey)

No. 6 - Mohammadreza Abdolhamid Geraei (Iran)

No. 7 - Amantur Ismailov (Kyrgyzstan)

No. 8 - Luis Alberto Orta Sanchez (Cuba)

Recent World and Olympic Results

67 kg/147.75 lbs. - Gold - Mate Nemes (Serbia); Silver - Mohammadreza Geraei (Iran); Bronze - Amantur Ismailov (Kyrgyzstan); Bronze - Hasrat Jafarov (Azerbaijan); 5th - Joni Khetsuriani (Georgia); 5th - Murat Firat (Turkey); 7th - Mateusz Bernatek (Poland); 8th - Hansu Ryu (Korea); 9th - Husiyuetu (China); 10th - Parviz Nasibov (Ukraine)

67 kg/147.75 lbs. - Gold - Mohammadreza Geraei (Iran); Silver - Nazir Abdullaev (RWF); Bronze - Almat Kebispayev (Kazakhstan); Bronze - Ramaz Zoidze (Georgia); 5th - Murat Firat (Turkey); 5th - Hasrat Jafarov (Azerbaijan); 7th - Mateusz Lucjan Bernatek (Poland); 8th - Sebastian Nad (Serbia); 9th - Morten Thoresen (Norway); 10th - Witalis Lazovski (Germany)

67 kg/147.75 lbs. - Gold – Mohammedreza Geraei (Iran); Silver - Parviz Nasibov (Ukraine); Bronze – Mohammed Elsayed (Egypt); Bronze – Frank Staebler (Germany); 5th - Artem Surkov (Russia); 5th - Ramaz Zoidze (Georgia); 7th – Ryu Hansu (Korea); 8th – Aker Obaidi (Olympic Refugee Team); 9th – Karen Aslanyan (Armenia); 10th – Alejandro Sancho (USA)

72 kg

Photo by: Justin Hoch
Patrick Smith, the U.S. representative at 72 kg, will compete Sept. 22-23 at the 2023 World Championships.

Top Contenders

In the 72 kg weight class, the top seed is Selcuk Can of Turkey, who earned bronze medals at the 2022 World Championships and 2023 European Championships. This is just the second World Championships appearance for Can. The No. 2 seed is Ulvi Ganizade of Azerbaijan, a silver medalist at the 2022 World Championships, 2023 European champion and two-time European Championships bronze medalist (2020 and 2022).

The No. 3 seed is the defending champion Ali Arsalan of Serbia. Arsalan enters with experience, having won a 2022 European bronze medal, and previously wrestled for Iran, where he was a 2015 Junior World bronze medalist. No. 4 seed Ibrahim Ghanem of France placed fifth at the 2022 World Championships and enters this year’s tournament after earning a silver medal at the 2023 European Championships. Ibragim Magomadov of Kazakhstan is the No. 5 seed and has had recent success winning gold at the 2023 Asian Championships, placing fifth at the 2022 World Championships and winning a silver medal at the 2020 Asian Championships.

No. 6 seed Robert Fritsch of Hungary is a 2022 European champion and placed eighth at the 2022 World Championships. Rounding out the top seeds are No. 7 seed Ramaz Zoidze of Georgia and No. 8 seed Valentin Petic of Moldova. Zoidze earned a bronze medal at the 2021 World Championships and two golds at Ranking Series events this year. Petic enters having placed seventh at the 2022 U23 World Championships and the 2021 Senior World Championships.

Four-time Pan American champion Patrick Smith is the U.S. representative at 72 kg. Other notable athletes to watch at this weight include 2021 U20 and U23 World bronze medalist Shant Khachatryan of Armenia and 2023 European bronze medalist Kamil Czarnecki of Poland.

Preliminary Seeds

No. 1 - Selcuk Can (Turkey)

No. 2 - Ulvi Ganizade (Azerbaijan)

No. 3 - Ali Arsalan (Serbia)

No. 4 - Ibrahim Ghanem (France)

No. 5 - Ibragim Magomadov (Kazakhstan)

No. 6 - Robert Fritsch (Hungary)

No. 7 - Ramaz Zoidze (Georgia)

No. 8 - Valentin Petic (Moldova)

Recent World Results

72 kg/158.5 lbs. -  Gold - Ali Arsalan (Serbia); Silver - Ule Ganizade (Azerbaijan); Bronze - Andrii Kulyk (Ukraine); Bronze - Selcuk Can (Turkey); 5th - Ibrahim Ghanem (France); 5th - Ibraghim Magomadov (Kazakhstan); 7th - Samuel Bellscheidt (Germany); 8th - Robert Fritsch (Hungary); 9th - Jose Varela Garcia (Guatemala); 10th - Valentin Petic (Moldova)

72 kg/158.5 lbs. - Gold – Malkhas Amoyan (Armenia); Silver – Sergei Kutuzov (RWF); Bronze – Gevorg Sahakyan (Poland); Bronze – Kristupas Sleiva (Lithuania); 5th – Cengiz Arslan (Turkey); 5th – Mohammad Mokhtari (Iran); 7th – Valentin Petic (Moldova); 8th – Ulvu Ganizade (Azerbaijan); 9th – Jiyul Lee (Korea); 10th – Haavard Joergensen (Norway)

Note: 72 kg is a non-Olympic weight class, so there are no results from the 2020 Olympic Games held in Tokyo, Japan.

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