After 163 gripping bouts of boxing, Friday night brought the preliminary rounds of the 2015 AIBA World Championship to a close. Out of the 80 boxers left in the competition,  nine Cubans remain, along with seven Azerbaijanis and seven Uzbekistanis – the three countries leading the team competition on the eve of the quarter-finals.

And it was Cuba’s light heavyweight Julio La Cruz who got the crowd on its feet, dancing his way out of trouble time and time again against Josuha Buatsi.  La Cruz had to get himself up, too, after a big right from the Brit had him on the canvas midway through the second round, but the Cuban WSB star was well ahead at the final bell, setting up a quarter-final contest with AOB’s tough Croatian Hrovje Sep.

Earlier in the day, Ireland’s fellow light heavyweight Joseph Ward and Kazakhstan’s much-fancied Adilbek Niyazymbetov had secured their safe passage to the next round.

In the evening’s lightweight match-ups, experienced Azerbaijani Albert Selimov held off a determined challenge from Ireland’s Sean McComb to set up a rematch of the European Games final against France’s Sofiane Oumiha on Saturday evening.

Brazil’s Robson Donato Conceicao showed why he will be among Brazil’s gold medal hopes at Rio 2016 with some swift attacking and solid defence against the resilient Russian Adlan Abdurashidov. He will go on to face Joseph Cordina in Saturday’s quarter-final after the Brit proved too strong for North Korea’s Choi Guk Kwon.

Britain’s Josh Kelly was in ruthless mood against New Zealander Joshua Nyika in their welterweight clash. His resounding 3:0 win set up a mouthwatering quarter final bout with Mohammed Rabii, unbeaten in season V of WSB, after he defeated Argentine Alberto Palmetta.

The big super heavyweights closed out Friday’s action, with Joe Joyce and Mohammed Arjaoui struggling to land any meaningful blows as Joyce won through, while France’s huge Tony Yoka overcame China’s Zhibao Wang in an exhausting exchange of mutual boxing prowess.