The boxing tournament of the Asian Games began its first competition day in Incheon, Korea where the winners of the contests advanced to the Top 16.
Korea’s home pride Han Soon Chul started with great success against DPR Korea’s Han Sang Ryong, while some Asian stars failed in their opening bouts in the Games.
Bout of the day
Korea’s Asian Games silver medallist Han Soon Chul was a real surprise in the London 2012 Olympic Games, where he defeated all of his rivals excluding Ukraine’s star Vasyl Lomachenko in the gold medal bout.
Following his silver in the Games he has not taken part in too many events, but won their national selection event and secured his place in the competing squad.
The host nation’s Lightweight class (60 kg) boxer started his tournament off against DPR Korea’s Han Sang Ryong who has also had a long break in his career.
Han Soon Chul dominated the first two rounds, but the North Korean fighter also fought to his best in the final round in the best bout on Day 1.
After three rounds of intense action, Han Soon Chul won the fight by unanimous decision and can now prepare for his next preliminary bout.
Team of the day
Philippines’ Mario Fernandez first became involved in their national team shortly after the London 2012 Olympic Games at the age of 19.
He competed at the Taipei City Cup two years ago which was his first international tournament out the Philippines, and the Bantamweight class (56 kg) boxer bagged the gold medal in that event, and has since won further competitions.
The 21-year-old Filipino boxer started his competition against an old rival in his Southeast Asian region, Donchai Thathi who has been a member of the national squad since 2009.
They fought each other in the final of the Southeast Asian Games in Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar last December when Fernandez defeated the strong Thai boxer.
In their rematch in Incheon, the result was the same, as Fernandez provided the better style of boxing from the first seconds and eliminated his tough rival in the Asian Games.
Philippines’ second triumph on the opening competition day was delivered by AIBA Asian Olympic Qualifiers silver medallist Charlie Suarez, who has also competed in two seasons of the World Series of Boxing.
The 26-year-old attacked more in the first part of the contest against Uzbekistan’s newly crowned National Champion Elnur Abduraimov, who has not got enough experience among the elite athletes yet.
Surprises of the day
In the opening bout of the entire boxing tournament, China’s Zhang Jiawei, who was a silver medallist in Guangzhou on home soil four years ago, had to fight against Uzbekistan’s AIBA Youth World Championships silver medallist Murodjon Akhmadaliyev.
The Central Asian boxer won the Sidney Jackson Memorial Tournament this year, and travelled to Incheon as a favourite of the Bantamweight class (56 kg).
China’s boxer used excellent tactics in the first round, and Akhmadaliyev could not reduce the fighting distance between them which resulted in a triumph for Zhang Jiawei against the most promising athlete of the category.
Bhutan’s best boxer Sigyel Phub won two bouts in the last edition of the Asian Games in Guangzhou, and he also fought well in the 2013 AIBA World Boxing Championships in Almaty.
The 30-year-old boxer has already defeated Belarussian, Japanese, Kazakh and Kyrgyz competitors during his career, and he was the favourite against his first opponent, Pakistan’s Nadir Bakshan Baloch who had lost his last four international contests.
However, Pakistan’s Bantamweight class (56 kg) star shocked Bhutan’s southpaw Phub in the first part of their battle when he dominated the contest.
Phub tried to perform better in the final frame and knocked down his rival but finally Baloch’s hand was raised after the last gong.
Jordan’s ASBC Asian Continental Championships silver medallist Obada Mohammad Al-Kasbeh moved up to the Lightweight class (60 kg) this year, and won the Taimanov & Utemisov Memorial Tournament in Atyrau, Kazakhstan.
In spite of his excellent results over the past year, he was not the favourite against Kazakhstan’s AIBA World Boxing Championships bronze medallist and ASBC Asian Continental Champion Berik Abdrakhmanov in the Asian Games.
20-year-old Al-Kasbeh attacked from the first seconds in their battle, and surprisingly eliminated his star rival, winning the bout by split decision and causing the biggest surprise of Day 1.
One to watch
Japan’s London 2012 Olympian Yasuhiro Suzuki had to miss the last edition of the Asian Games four years ago due injuring his right arm by accidentally smashing into a window prior to the event.
The southpaw boxer is a member of the Self-Defense Forces, and had more experience in international tournaments than his Korean opponent, the Taipei City Cup bronze medallist Ku Gyo Seong.
Besides the difference of experience, Suzuki used his height advantage well, and therefore his triumph over the host nation’s boxer was a well-deserved one.
Stat/Fact of the day
India, Pakistan and the Philippines had got two winning contests in the opening day of the boxing tournament in Incheon, while Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan failed in their first matches in the Asian Games, but both will have realistic chances to do a better job on Day 2.
There are further bouts to decide who will advance to the last 16 in the second preliminary day in Incheon on Thursday.
The Light Flyweight class (49 kg) boxers will be in action including two favourites -Uzbekistan’s Summer Universiade winner Hasanboy Dusmatov and China’s AIBA Youth World Champion Lu Bin who have to meet each other in Incheon.
Perhaps the most anticipated bout of the Flyweight class (52 kg) is scheduled between Kazakhstan’s Ilyas Suleimenov and Thailand’s Chatchai Butdee.
Boxers from the Light Welterweight class (64 kg) and the Middleweight class (75 kg) are also fighting for the Top 16 on Day 2.