Zare’s triumph was a consolation for the country by the end of a miserable second day of the event, which saw four Iranians fail to reach the last four of their respective weight classes before Hassan and Amirmohammad Yazdani came short against the American foes in two evening final showdowns.
It was always going to be a three-horse race – featuring Zare’, Petriashvili, and Turkish Taha Akgul – for the 125kg gold, and the 22-year-old Iranian proved to be the dominant force of the division by beating the latter two – who have a remarkable 20 world and Olympic medals between them – en route to the top podium.
Having avenged last year’s semifinal defeat against Akgul this time around, Zare’ stormed to an 11-0 technical-fall victory on the 4:48 mark against a frustrated Petriashvili in a repeat of the 2021 final.
Sunday’s gold also means Zare’ – a bronze winner at the Tokyo Olympics – will be the favorite to walk away with the ultimate prize in next year’s Games in Paris.
Zare’ said he would give his full dedication to the success in Paris “right from tomorrow when I wake up in my hotel room.”
A fifth setback in six battles against American David Taylor was probably the worst of the lot for Hassan Yazdani as he suffered a pin with two seconds left on the clock to take the 86kg silver.
The defeat – third in a fourth successive final against the American – still extended Yazdani’s personal tally to a national record of nine major medals, though he might need a change of tactics in his meetings with Taylor if he fancies his chances of a second Olympic gold next summer.
The Iranian thought he had a 5-1 lead in the first period, only to see a successful challenge by the Americans change the scoreline into 5-3 in Taylor’s favor.
Taylor scored a key takedown early in the second period to take a 7-3 lead and then clamped down when Yazdani attempted a late headlock throw to make it 9-3 before securing the fall for his third world title.
“It’s so many micro-adjustments, it’s amazing. I have a plan, he has a plan, then you go out there and your plan works for about 20 seconds. When I wrestle him, it’s like organized chaos, there’s just so much happening,” Taylor said after winning a third gold of the day for Team USA.
Also victorious against Yazdani in the Tokyo Olympic final, Taylor said the key to keeping the Iranian star at bay was to neutralize his dangerous underhooks.
“He’s so good in that position, and it’s forced me to get better,” Taylor said. “For me, the more action always benefits me. I feel like our matches had a lot of action...People will do the best they possibly can to slow me down, my job is to become a dynamic scorer and find ways to continue to score and that was what I was able to do.”
Taylor’s sole loss to Yazdani was a 6-2 decision in the 2021 final in Oslo.
“He is an aggressive, fearless competitor,” Taylor said. “In Oslo, I gave him an inch and he took a mile. I learned my lesson the hard way in that match. Every time I have to try to stay one step ahead.”
In a first Iranian-American final of the day, Zain Retherford – a silver medalist last year – came out on top against Amirmohammad Yazdani in the non-Olympic 70kg class.
Yazdani, who won a silver in Oslo, looked to be in exhilarating form on his way to the final but clearly ran out of steam toward the end of the contest against Retherford, who put together a solid 8-5 win.
Retherford used counters and a low single to score three takedowns and two stepouts, while Yazdani had two slick takedowns, but otherwise offered little resistance in having to settle for the silver.