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125kg Preview - Gable Coming For The Heavyweight Belt

125kg Preview - Gable Coming For The Heavyweight Belt

An in depth preview of the 125kg weight class at the Tokyo Olympics. See how Gable Steveson compares to the rest of the 125kg Olympic field.

Jul 18, 2021 by Jon Kozak
125kg Preview - Gable Coming For The Heavyweight Belt
Gable Steveson is Team USA’s Olympian at 125kg in a field that includes 2 wrestlers who have won the last 6 world/Olympic golds at 125kg-Taha Akgul and Geno Petriashvili. This 125kg Olympic preview will give an overview of Steveson’s senior level career and explore the careers of each of his potential competitors in Tokyo. We'll also break down the competitors into tiers based on medal contenders, dark horses and long shots at the Olympic Games.

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Gable Steveson is Team USA’s Olympian at 125kg in a field that includes 2 wrestlers who have won the last 6 world/Olympic golds at 125kg-Taha Akgul and Geno Petriashvili. This 125kg Olympic preview will give an overview of Steveson’s senior level career and explore the careers of each of his potential competitors in Tokyo. We'll also break down the competitors into tiers based on medal contenders, dark horses and long shots at the Olympic Games.

Gable Vs The Legends 

To become an Olympic champion, Gable Steveson will likely have to defeat both Taha Akgul and Geno Petriashvili. Akgul won worlds in 2014 and 2015, then followed up those titles with Olympic gold in 2016. Petriashvili took over Akgul's crown with his own “three-peat” from 2017-2019. Petriashvili and Akgul will be on opposite sides of the bracket in Tokyo, meaning Steveson will potentially face both at the Games.

Outside of the two established veterans, Amir Zare (IRI), Sergey Kozyrev (RUS), and Dzianis Khramiankou (BLR) are three young talents who will also challenge Gable in Tokyo. Zare has the greatest potential of the bunch. While he did lose to Mason Parris in the 2019 Junior World Finals, he has since been more impressive. Zare defeated Geno Petriashvili, 15-11 in November 2019 and has 2 dominant wins over Nick Gwiazdowski. Kozyrev and Khramiankou don’t have the same resume as Zare but have had recent, impressive performances and seem to be improving with each competition. 

The question remains-Is Gable the best heavyweight in the world?! Everything Gable Steveson has done over the past year seems to be leading toward a gold medal run in Tokyo. While he hasn’t been tested by this Olympic field, he is performing at a level many 125kg wrestlers only dream of attaining. Gable Steveson’s technical proficiency and dynamic style at heavyweight represents a nightmare match-up for every wrestler in this Olympic field. While it won’t be easy, Gable Steveson is capable of reaching the top of the podium, dethroning the legends, and becoming the 125kg king. On top of that, if Steveson wins gold in Tokyo, he will be the youngest American heavyweight to ever win a gold medal at the world championships or Olympics (regardless of style).


Gable Steveson (USA)

Record Since 2018 - 30-6

Accolades:

  • 2021 Pan-Am Gold
  • 2017 Jr World Gold
  • 2015, 2016 Cadet World Gold

1-0 Record Against 125kg Olympic Field:

Watch Gable Steveson win his 2021 Pan-Am title in dominant fashion:

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Taha vs Geno

As referenced, Geno Petriashvili and Taha Akgul have owned the 125kg weight class over the last 6 years. In total, Akgul leads the head to head series over Petriashvili - 6-3. However, Petriashvili has won when it mattered most at worlds the last three years. In 2017 and 2019, Akgul lost to Petriashvili in the world finals. In 2018, Akgul failed to place at worlds entirely after he lost to Iran’s Parviz Hadi in the quarter finals. That year, Petriashvili defeated Hadi in the semi-finals before he won the world title over China’s Zhiwei Deng. 

This trend might suggest Petriashvili to be a slight favorite over Akgul in Tokyo. Along with winning worlds the last three years, at 27 years old Petriashvili is three years younger than Akgul. Another trend to consider is Akgul’s success at Euros has not translated into success at Euros. In 2017, 2018 and 2019 Taha Akgul defeated Geno Petriashvili at the European Championships. Every one of those years, Petriashvili went on to win a world title. Once again, Akgul won in the opening round at Euros over Geno Petriashvili, 6-1. Could this be another year where Petriashvili “flips the script” at the Olympics, or does this show Akgul is ready to reclaim his world title? We'll be sure to find out when they take the mats in Tokyo.


Taha Akgul (TUR)

Record Since 2018 - 30-3

Accolades:

  • 2016 Olympic Gold
  • 2014, 2015 World Gold
  • 2017, 2019 World Silver
  • 2013 World Bronze
  • 8X Euro Gold (2012-2015, 2017-2021)

17-3 Record Against 125kg Olympic Field:

Watch Akgul's most recent win over Petriashvili from 2021 Euros:

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Geno Petriashvili (GEO)

Record Since 2018 - 57-7

Accolades:

  • 2017, 2018, 2019 World Gold
  • 2016 Olympic Bronze
  • 2013, 2015 World Bronze
  • 2016, 2020 Euro Gold
  • 2018, 2019 Euro Silver
  • 2013, 2015, 2017, 2021 Euro Bronze

17-9 Record Against 125kg Olympic Field:

Petriashvili's epic win over Akgul in the 2017 World Finals:

A Group Of Young Contenders

Along with Gable Steveson, there is a group of young heavyweights who look to be threats to medal and even take out Akgul or Petriashvili. The top man on this list is Iran’s Amir Zare. The Iranian big man took out Daniel Kerkvliet in the 2018 Cadet World Finals but was pinned by Michigan’s Mason Parris in the 2019 Junior World Finals. Since those age-level results, Zare has been more impressive with two dominant wins over Nick Gwiazdowski and a 15-11 win over Geno Petriashvili in November 2019. Zare’s experience is limited on the senior level, but his previous win over Petriashvili proves he will be a threat to every heavyweight in the Olympic field. 

Sergey Kozyrev is looking to end Russia’s troubles at heavyweight. Russia has not won a medal at 125kg since Bilyal Makhov’s bronze in 2015. Kozyrev has yet to wrestle at senior worlds but did experience success at the Cadet level. He lost to Penn State’s Kerkvliet at 2018 Cadet Worlds but then defeated the aforementioned Amir Zare to win the Youth Olympic Games in October of 2018. Along with that past success, Kozyrev won 2021 Russian Nationals and followed that up with a silver at the European Championships. Though Akgul handily defeated Kozyrev, the young Russian took out 2019 world bronze medalist, Oleksandry Khotsianivskyi on his way to the finals.

The last young threat who could shake up the field is Belarus' Dzianis Khramiankou. The 25 year old Khramiankou has multiple medals from both Junior and U23 worlds and is looking to make his mark for the first time at the senior level. Khramiankou qualified for the Olympics when he defeated Russia’s Shamil Sharipov with a last second takedown at the European Olympic Games Qualifier. He followed up that performance by losing two competitive matches to both Taha Akgul (4-0) and Geno Petriashvili (12-9). Even in defeat, Khramiankou proved he is not far behind the best in the world at 125kg.


Amir Zare (IRI)

Record Since 2018 - 19-3

Accolades:

  • 2019 U23 World Gold
  • 2019 Junior World Silver
  • 2018 Youth Olympics Silver
  • 2018 Cadet World Gold 

4-1 Record Against 125kg Olympic Field:

Zare's win over Petriashvili from the Iran League:


Dzianis Khramiankou (BLR)

Record Since 2018 - 37-11

Accolades:

  • 2020 World Cup Bronze
  • 2019 U23 World Bronze
  • 2017 U23 World Silver
  • 2016 Junior World Bronze
  • 2015 Junior World Silver

4-2 Record Against 125kg Olympic Field:

Watch Khramiankou take out world medalist Khotsianivskyi at the 2020 World Cup:


Sergey Kozyrev (RUS)

Record Since 2018 - 12-4

Accolades:

  • 2021 Euro Silver
  • 2018 Cadet World Bronze
  • 2018 Youth Olympic Gold

2-1 Record Against 125kg Olympic Field:

The “Dark Horses”

The next four wrestlers shouldn’t be considered medal favorites but have proven to be dangerous challengers at 125kg with the capability of upsetting one of the favorites. In this group, Zhiwei Deng (CHN), Oleksandr Khotsianivskyi (UKR), and Aiaal Lazarev (KGZ) are veterans in the weight class and Yusup Batirmurzaev is a young up-and-comer. Deng and Khotsianivskyi are both past world medalists and have impressive wins on their resumes. Notably, Deng has two wins over Nick Gwiazdowski and Khotsianivskyi took out Geno Petriashvili in a controlling, 5-0 victory back in 2018. And while Lazarev and Batirmurzaev don’t have the marquee victories like Deng and Khotsianivskyi, they have shown how dangerous they can be against some of Iran’s best heavyweights. At the 2020 Asian Championships, Batirmurzaev pinned Parviz Hadi (who has a win over Akgul) on his way to gold. At the 2021 Asian Championships, Lazarev pinned Amin Taheri (who has wins over Zare) to make the finals. 


Zhiwei Deng (CHN)

Record Since 2018 - 29-18

Accolades:

  • 2019 World Bronze
  • 2018 World Silver
  • 2018, 2019 Asian Silver
  • 2011, 2015 Asian Bronze

2-8 Record Against 125kg Olympic Field:


Oleksandr Khotsianivskyi (UKR)

Record Since 2018 - 45-17

Accolades:

  • 2019 World Bronze
  • 2014, 2019, 2021 Euro Bronze

5-14 Record Against 125kg Olympic Field:

Khotsianivskyi's win over Petriashvili from the 2018 Outstanding Ukrainian Tournament:


Yusup Batirmurzaev (KAZ)

Record Since 2018 - 20-13

Accolades:

  • 2019 U23 World Bronze
  • 2020 Asian Gold

2-2 Record Against 125kg Olympic Field:


Aiaal Lazarev (KGZ)

Record Since 2018 - 14-7

Accolades:

  • 2015 Asian Gold
  • 2021 Asian Silver
  • 2010, 2013, 2016 Asian Bronze

3-5 Record Against 125kg Olympic Field:


The Longshots

The final group of six wrestlers have not proven to be ready to challenge the best 125kg wrestlers in the world. None have defeated the top 6 in competition and all have a losing record against the rest of the Olympic field. This group of six should be considered major underdogs to medal, or even wrestle for a medal, in Tokyo.


Amar Dhesi (CAN)

Record Since 2018 - 23-11

Accolades:

  • 2020 Pan-Am Silver
  • 2014 Junior World Gold

0-3 Record Against 125kg Olympic Field:


Lkhagvagerel Munkhtur (MGL)

Record Since 2018 - 18-16

Accolades:

  • 2019 U23 World Bronze

1-3 Record Against 125kg Olympic Field:


Gennadij Cudinovic (GER)

Record Since 2018 - 17-21

Accolades:

  • 2021 European Olympic Games Qualifier Silver

0-3 Record Against 125kg Olympic Field:

  • Injury Dft. (1-0) loss to Dzianis Khramiankou (2021 Euro OG Qualifier)
  • 5-3 loss to Aiaal Lazarev (2021 Ukrainian)
  • 10-4 loss to Dzianis Khramiankou (2019 Deglane)


Egzon Shala (KOS)

Record Since 2018 - 2-7

Accolades:

  • 2019 World 5th

0-1 Record Against 125kg Olympic Field:


Diaaeldin Abdelmottaleb (EGY)

Record Since 2018 - 9-5

Accolades:

  • 2016, 2017, 2020 African Gold

3-3 Record Against 125kg Olympic Field:


Djahid Berrahal (ALG)

Record Since 2018 - 5-5

Accolades:

  • 2020 African Silver

0-3 Record Against 125kg Olympic Field:


125kg Records Against the Olympic Field (sorted by winning percentage):

  1. Gable Steveson (USA) - 1-0
  2. Taha Akgul (TUR) - 17-3
  3. Amir Zare (IRI) - 4-1
  4. Dzianis Khramiankou (BLR) - 4-2
  5. Geno Petriashvili (GEO) - 17-9
  6. Sergey Kozyrev (RUS) - 2-1
  7. Diaaeldin Abdelmottaleb (EGY) - 3-3
  8. Yusup Batirmurzaev (KAZ) - 2-2
  9. Aiaal Lazarev (KGZ) - 3-5
  10. Oleksandr Khotsianivskyi (UKR) - 5-14
  11. Lkhagvagerel Munkhtur (MGL) - 1-3
  12. Zhiwei Deng (CHN) - 2-8
  13. Egzon Shala (KOS) - 0-1
  14. Amar Dhesi (CAN) - 0-3
  15. Gennadij Cudinovic (GER) - 0-3
  16. Djahid Berrahal (ALG) - 0-3


Take a look at the 125kg Olympian Rankings Here