The Rio 2016 Day One evening session saw the Light Flyweights (49kg) Leandro Blanc of Argentina and experienced 23 year-old Mexican Joselito Velazquez begin proceedings, with Velazquez looking every bit a man back at his best form and ready to challenge for an Olympic medal. The 23 year-old Mexican star found his rhythm early on, replying quickly on the rare occasions that Blanc found a way through his defences to win by unanimous decision.
Velazquez will now meet Uzbekistan’s Hasanboy Dusmatov in the next round, while Namibia’s Mathias Hamunyela out-scored Azerbaijan’s 2014 Youth Olympic Champion Rufat Huseynov in one of the biggest surprises of the day. Both boxers flew out of their corners at the start of a breathless second round, but Hamunyela landed the cleaner blows to earn a unanimous decision and set up a duel with current World Champion Birzhan Zhakypov of Kazakhstan.
Rounding off the first round of Light Flyweight action, USA’s Nico Miguel Hernandez gradually found his way back into a tough contest with Italy’s Manuel Cappai, and will take on Russian second seed Vasilli Egorov on Monday evening.
Uzbekistan’s experienced Lightweight (60kg) Hurshid Tojibaev comfortably negotiated his opening-round tie against Qatari Hakan Eresker, setting up a second round match with Britain’s Joseph Cordina. The Brit was made to work hard for his win by Philippines’ busy Charly Coronel Suarez, but a strong last round eventually saw him safely through.
The Tajikstan and China teams then both had their first tastes of Rio 2016 action, and it was Anvar Yunusov who took the initiative and the first two rounds, leaving China’s Jun Shan’s frantic third-round burst too late to turn the tide.
Brazilian Light Heavyweight (81kg) Michel Borges received a hero’s welcome from the crowd as he entered the ring against veteran Cameroon pro Hassan Ndam Njikam, and was visibly lifted as he won the first two rounds, before powering on to a convincing win that will see him face Croatia’s morning session-winner Sep Hrvoje. In the second Light Heavyweight bout of the session, the big-hitting Colombian Juan Carlos Carrillo dominated Kyrgyzstan’s Erkin Adylbek Uulu.
An entertaining first day of Rio 2016 boxing was completed by two big Heavyweight (91kg) talents; Britain’s European Qualifier winner Lawrence Okolie and Poland’s World Olympic Qualification Event winner Igor Pawel Jakubowski. Okolie landed some sharp punches early on, and the 24 year-old grew in confidence as the bout drew on, never looking troubled as he earned a testing second-round tie against Cuba’s imperious Erislandy Savon.