Bulgarian Ibañez beats Spain's Quiles on IBA Champions Night in Madrid. IBA

The Madrid Arena played host to the latest IBA Champions Night on Saturday with Cuban-born Bulgarian Javier Ibañez outpointing local favourite Jose Quiles to claim the IBA European Featherweight Championship belt.

There were six fights, five of them featuring Spanish boxers, on the bill at the Madrid Arena. The final bout saw Ibañez repeat his victory over Quiles in the final at last year's European Games although this bout was staged over eight three-minute rounds instead of the three in Olympic boxing.

Both men - who will represent their countries at Paris 2024 - weighed in at just under the 57kg limit with Quiles starting brightly. However, Ibañez started to take control in round three before pressing home his advantage.

Quiles was cheered by the home crowd, but appeared to tire in the later rounds and found his opponent too quick for much of the contest. The final round saw both men land powerful shots, but it was the 27-year-old 'Wolf of Matanzas' who was awarded the fight by unanimous decision.

"It was the first time in my life that I fought for eight rounds and it could be smarter to fight for the long term and that's why I'm taking the belt to Bulgaria," Ibañez told Inside The Games on the ring perimeter seconds after being announced the winner with all three judges scoring the bout 77-75 in his favour.

Javier Ibañez Díaz hits a left straight at Jose Quiles. IBA
Javier Ibañez Díaz hits a left straight at Jose Quiles. IBA

Ibañez now holds a 2-1 record over Quiles with the Spaniard, who made a quick exit from the ring after the decision, winning their first meeting in Belgrade in 2019.  Both men were making their professional debuts with Ibañez thanking the IBA for the opportunity, saying, "I'm an amateur but I want to make the transition to professional and these fights help. This fight went eight rounds, it was a challenge and I felt very good physically and mentally. It's much quicker to fight in less rounds, you have to think more and use different strategies."

On his opponent, he said: "We know each other, he is a very strong boxer, but I came prepared to win the fight. I wanted it and I got it. The IBA gave me the opportunity and I didn't waste it. These events are important for us."

Javier Ibañez Diaz kisses the IBA belt after winning at the Madrid Arena. IBA
Javier Ibañez Diaz kisses the IBA belt after winning at the Madrid Arena. IBA

Quiles was the only Spaniard to taste defeat on the night. In the co-main event of the night, Spain's 2021 world bronze medallist Enmanuel Reyes Pla defeated Uzbekistani southpaw Shohjakhon Abdullaev by unanimous decision in the -92kg heavyweight division.

Toyko 2020 Olympian Reyes, who also won silver at the 2022 European Championships and bronze at last year's European Games, was rocked by a left hook in round three but managed to recover to take victory. The 31-year-old told Inside The Games afterwards, "My opponent was tough. I knew we were going to go the full six rounds and that was the strategy. I was able to execute my boxing and get the win. I hope to have another night like this in Spain with such a big crowd and to come back for a European or world title.

"The organisation of the IBA is very good, it helps us a lot to prepare for professional boxing after amateur. My goal is Paris, the gold medal. These events help us as amateurs to prepare for the professional level and are important to arrive well at the Olympics."

Enmanuel Reyes Pla defeated Shohjakhon Abdullaev by unanimous decision in Madrid. IBA
Enmanuel Reyes Pla defeated Shohjakhon Abdullaev by unanimous decision in Madrid. IBA

Before the two headline bouts, Italy's two-time world 92kg silver medallist Aziz Abbes Mouhiidine impressed in his win over Switzerland's Ukë Smajli. The Swiss took a count in the opening round but showed great resilience to land some strong punches of his own against the 2022 European champion.

Mouhiidine was slick and accurate with his punching early on, showing the skills which had taken him to two world finals. The men to beat him in those were double Olympic champion Julio Cesar de la Cruz and his victim in the Tokyo 2020 final, Muslim Gadzhimagomedov.

After winning by unanimous decision, the Avelino native told Inside The Games, "It was a spectacular fight with a very good opponent like Smajli. I had a great preparation, but I am focused on the bigger goal, the Paris Games. We wanted to fight at such a high international level here in Madrid and it was a very important event for us. Now my team and I are working day by day to win Olympic gold."

In the opening bout of Madrid's IBA Champions Night, Spain's two-time world bronze medallist Martín Molina of Spain defeated India's Deepak Bhoria by unanimous decision at 51kg.

The second contest saw another Sergio Martínez, a bronze medallist at the EUBC U22 European Championships two years ago, claim a unanimous points win over Moldova's Davron Bozorov at 71kg.

A third unanimous decision in favour of the home team followed immediately with 2019 European Games champion Gabriel Escobar coming through an entertaining bout against Gabon's Franck Mombey. The 27-year-old from nearby Leganes took a couple of good shots early on, but settled down to box an intelligent fight and get the better of the African veteran.