Wednesday’s morning session at the Rio 2016 Boxing Tournament saw eleven bouts across five weight categories featuring 21 different nations. The first Semi-Finalists were confirmed from the Men’s Light Flyweight (49kg) and Heavyweight (91kg) competitions, while the preliminaries continued at Bantamweight (56kg), Light Welterweight (64kg) and Light Heavyweight (81kg).
Cuban prodigy Johanys Argilagos continued to cement his reputation as both a consummate showman and potential Olympic Light Flyweight Champion with a dazzling display against Kenyan Peter Warui. It was a lesson in the art of boxing from the 19 year-old that left Warui chasing shadows and made Argilagos’ the first name into the last four, guaranteeing bronze but looking firmly on course for Sunday’s final.
Colombia’s Yurberjen Martinez then booked his place in the Semi-Finals in an evenly balanced bout against Spain’s Samuel Heredia. Having earlier put Irish fourth-seed Patrick Barnes out of the competition, Heredia again looked positive, but Martinez was in uncompromising mood, establishing an unassailable lead after two rounds and cruising to the last four.
The Bantamweights got their first taste of Rio 2016 action with Armenia’s Aram Avagyan edging a split decision against Japan’s Arashi Morisaka, before Thailand’s Chatchai Butdee powered into the second round with an impressive attacking display against Britain’s Qais Ashfaq. One of only four Rio 2016 athletes to hail from the South Pacific nation of Vanuatu, Boe Warawara managed to cause Vladimir Nikitin a few problems with his right, but could not halt the Russian’s march into the second round.
At Light Welterweight, Mongolian Chinzorig Baatarsukh overcame Qatar’s Thulasi Tharumalingam, then Armenia’s Hovhannes Bachkov recovered from a first-round knock-down to record a memorable win over Venezuelan Luis Arcon and China’s Qianxun Hu progressed by Walkover against Mexican Raul Curiel.
The Light Heavyweight second round saw Julio Cesar La Cruz’s first Rio 2016 appearance as he booked his place in the last eight with a typically assured display of boxing against Turkey’s Mehmet Unal. La Cruz will meet Brazilian Michel Borges, who was visibly lifted by thousands of cheering fans as he entered the ring and worked hard to keep Croatia’s Sep Hrvoje at bay. Both boxers absorbed some fierce punches, but it was Borges who impressed the judges to earn a unanimous decision and send the crowd wild.
The Heavyweights rounded off the morning session with top-seed Evgeny Tishchenko towering 15cm over his Italian opponent Clemente Russo, who looked to come in close and neutralise the Russian’s longer reach. Tishchenko’s quick-fire jabs proved too much for the Italian, however, earning him a Semi-Final spot against Rustam Tulaganov. The Uzbek came back brilliantly having been knocked down by Azeri Abdulkadir Abdullayev at the end of the first round, guaranteeing himself at least a bronze medal and a shot at the Olympic Final.