The first boxing competition day of the Baku 2015 European Games began today in Azerbaijan, where competitors from six men’s weight classes impressed in the ring, and advanced through to the last 16 in the tournament.

Bout of the day

Britain’s Muhammad Ali not only shares a name with one of the greatest sporting icons of all time, but also boasts impressive boxing skills too, which he displayed to perfection in Baku.

The Flyweight (52 kg) entered the Games as a much heralded prospect after winning medals at both the 2014 AIBA Youth World Boxing Championships and the Nanjing 2014 Youth Olympic Games, and he lived up to his reputation with victory against Moldovan veteran Alexandr Risca.

Ali turns 19 later this week, and celebrated his upcoming birthday with an impressive performance which was centered and defined by his ability to control the bout using clinical dominance from long-range.

Although Riscan improved in the final round, it was not enough to trouble the British star who was named the winner of their entertaining match by unanimous decision.

He will next compete on Saturday against Italy’s Beijing 2008 Olympic Games bronze medallist Vincenzo Picardi.

Team of the day

Three Turkish boxers were in action on the opening day in Baku, and each advanced through the next stage of competition.

Yasin Yilmaz recently moved down to the Lightweight class (60 kg) before the Games began, and the 20-year-old boxer knocked down Germany’s Atdhe Gashi in their opening round, which led to the referee stopping the bout soon after.

Light Welterweight (64 kg)  Adem Furkan Avci then outpointed Andras Vadasz, while Turkey’s third triumph was achieved by Heavyweight (91 kg) Bahram Muzaffer who narrowly eliminated Estonia’s Rain Karlson by split decision.

Surprises of the day

Hungary’s AIBA Youth World Boxing Championships competitor Nandor Csoka has had a difficult time since joining the elite level in January, and he had to meet with Poland’s Bocskai Memorial Tournament bronze medallist Maciej Jozwik in the opening round at Flyweight (52 kg).

Despite his inexperience and lack of form, the 18-year-old Hungarian produced a dynamic performance full of attacks and combination punching, which earned him a victory and a place in the next stage of the event.

Italian Bantamweight (56 kg) Riccardo D’Andrea then shocked Ukraine’s Iurii Shestak after three rounds of intense action that swung both ways throughout.

Shestak was reckoned as a possible medal contender in Baku, but he could not cope with the superior skills of D’Andrea who was positive and smart when it mattered most in the fight.

One to watch

Germany’s 20-year-old Albon Pervizaj is an aggressive and exhilarating boxer, and opened his European Games account with a decisive win over Moldova’s Victor Ialimov.

Pervizaj’s progress in Baku will be enjoyable to watch as he utilises a very fan friendly style.

Fact of the day

Russia, Italy and Turkey each earned a perfect performance on the opening day of the Baku 2015 European Games, while Ireland and Hungary also won two contests.

Quotes of the day

“I felt great in the ring today, and I was not tired after the nine minutes of battle against Poland’s Maciej Jozwik. I received strict instructions from my coaches to start my attacks with the left jab, and afterwards I tried to continue the combination with right uppercuts and left hooks. I followed the instructions, and I am looking forward my next bout,” commented Hungary’s Nandor Csoka after his triumph at Flyweight (52 kg).

“I lost my bout against Russia’s Sadam Magomedov, so I do not know what else can I say now. Hopefully I will be more successful next time. I was planning to keep the distance and work from longer range, but my opponent was really strong. I started to fight with him, and did not follow my tactics well enough. I am now focusing on the EUBC European Continental Championships,” said Lithuania’s Tadas Tamasauskas after losing to Russia’s Sadam Magomedov in the Heavyweight class (91 kg).

Tomorrow’s program

The preliminaries will continue on the second competition day in Baku, with boxers from the Men’s Bantamweight (56 kg), Light Welterweight (64 kg), Welterweight (69 kg), Middleweight class (75 kg) and Light Heavyweight (81 kg) classes all in action.

Keep a special eye out for the match between Bulgaria’s EU Championships silver medallist Airin Ismetov and Ukraine’s super talented Viktor Petrov at Light Welterweight class (64 kg).

(Lead photo courtesy of Baku 2015 European Games)