Tuesday’s two sessions of Olympic Games Boxing offered up eight thrilling Lightweight (60kg) and Middleweight (75kg) bouts, as well as a first taste of Rio 2016 action for four of the eighteen Super Heavyweights (+91kg). It was a star-studded start to the day as Cuba’s triple World Lightweight Champion Lazaro Alvarez stepped into the ring, before Brazil’s Robson Conceição fired up the crowd and then Cameroon 18 year-old Dieudonne Seyi Ntsengue and France’s Sofiane Oumiha delivered superb performances to keep their Olympic dreams alive.
In the day’s opening bout, Lazaro Alvarez produced yet another masterclass in tactical boxing against Italy’s Carmine Tommasone. The Cuban controlled proceedings from the second round, flooring Tommasone in the third with a powerful combination to put the result beyond any doubt. Carlos Balderas then came through a fascinating battle against Japan’s Daisuke Narimatsu as both boxers looked to come in close and land dozens of blows per round. Balderas scored the more meaningful punches as his powerful uppercuts found their target with increasing regularity, and the American’s hand was finally raised.
Britain’s Joe Cordina looked to frustrate the attacking instincts of opponent Hurshid Tojibaev, but his ducks and sways occasionally saw him get caught on the ropes as the Uzbek connected with some strong lefts. A warning in the second round evened out the scores, but with Cordina reluctant to get on the front foot, Tojibaev earned a unanimous win and his place in the last eight.
The arrival of Brazil’s Robson Conceição pushed the volume inside Riocentro Pavilion 6 even louder, and with IOC member Prince Frederik of Denmark watching on, the fans’ favourite delivered a swift TKO win against Tajikstan’s Anvar Yunusov to cruise into Friday’s Quarter-Finals.
The second day of Middleweight (75kg) competition saw Algerian Ilyas Abbadi earn a unanimous decision over Congo’s Mpi Ngamissengue, before Azeri medal hope Kamran Shakhsuvarly put in a gritty performance and claim a hard-earned victory over the imposing figure of China’s experienced Minggang Zhao.
Iraqi veteran boxer Waheed Abdulri Karaawi started well against Misael Rodriguez, but his opponent found the rhythm in the second round and the Mexican was able to power through to a unanimous win. A sparkling Olympic debut from 18 year-old Cameroonian Dieudonne Seyi Ntsengue followed, as he kept his composure against Colombia’s Jorge Luis Vivas to earn a place in Friday’s second round, cueing spectacular celebrations.
Closing out the session was the first bout of the Super Heavyweight (+91kg) competition, and big-hitting Laurent Clayton of the US Virgin Islands against Germany’s Erik Pfeifer. Both boxers had spells of pressure and landed strong blows, but Clayton had the upper hand long enough to tip the judge’s split decision his way to the delight of the crowd of fellow Virgin Islanders.
Mongolia’s winner of the Asia and Oceania Qualification Event Otgondalai Dorjnyambuu faced Netherlands’ World Qualifier winner Enrico Lacruz in the first Lightweight (60kg) bout of the afternoon session. Lacruz edged the opening round, but Dorjnyambuu came back with an impressive finish that left the young Dutch boxer applauding his opponent’s tenacity as the judges awarded the Mogolian the decision.
Russia’s Adlan Abdurashidov proved an elusive target for sixth-seed Reda Benbaziz throughout much of their bout as both boxers struggled to find a rhythm, but the Algerian’s attacking instincts eventually brought him a deserved place in the last eight on Friday evening.
Two explosive athletes then entered the ring, with France’s Sofiane Oumiha and Thailand’s hugely experienced Amnat Ruenrog desperate for a Quarter-Final slot and a shot at an Olympic medal. Ruenrog began the brighter, but Oumiha grew in confidence and after the Thai received two referee counts in the second, the bout was eventually halted midway through the third and Oumiha was through.
The Lightweight Quarter-Final line-up was completed when Azerbaijan’s hugely experienced former World Champion Albert Selimov came through his tie against Irelands’s David Joyce. After a subdued opening three minutes, Joyce had to come out firing in the second and while his rapid combinations brought some success, Selimov exploited the resulting openings in the Irishman’s defences to earn a decisive victory and send out a serious claim on the Olympic gold.
Scoring punches may have been few and far between, but it was a gripping encounter that played out between the first Middleweight (75kg) pair of the afternoon, Maurician Mervin Clair and Egypt’s Hosam Abdin. The two feinted and flinched their ways out of trouble time and again, but it was the tenacious Egyptian who eventually stalked his way into the second round. A battling performance from India’s Krishan Vikas then saw him successfully negotiate a testing tie with American Charles Conwell.
Benny Muziyo’s long reach caused Turkey’s Onur Sipal a few problems early on, and as the experienced Turk got in close to score, Muziyo had him on the canvas at the end of the second round. The third round belonged to Sipal, however, and he powered in to the last 16 with some big-scoring combinations. Australian Daniel Lewis then became the last name in the second round of the Middleweight competition, as he overcame Poland’s tough Tomasz Jablonski.
Azerbaijan’s London 2012 Olympic Super Heavyweight (+91kg) bronze medallist Majidov Mahammadrasul and Morocco’s Mohammed Arjaoui were the last men into the ring on Tuesday, and it was a typically controlled performance from the Azeri double World Champion. Winning all three rounds on the judges’ scorecards, Mahammadrasul’s triumph earned him a place in the last sixteen against fellow 2012 bronze medallist, Kazakhstan’s Ivan Dychko.