It was a star-studded first session of Rio 2016 Olympic Boxing on Tuesday, with reigning Champion Nicola Adams in the first of two Women’s Flyweight (51kg) Quarter-Finals, current World Champions in the last-sixteen of the Men’s Bantamweights (56kg), Light Welterweights (64kg) and Super Heavyweights (+91kg), and in-between, a crucial Light Heavyweight (81kg) Semi-Final bout between Cuba’s Julio Cesar La Cruz and French revelation Mathieu Bauderlique.
Ukrainian Tetyana Kob delivered a superb first-round win over Stanmira Petrova on Day Seven, but Nicola Adams looked every bit the Olympic champion as she got her title defence up and running with a unanimous win in the day’s first bout. China’s Ren Cancan then overcame Canada’s Mandy Bujold with an equally stylish win to set up a hotly anticipated Semi-Final with Adams on Thursday.
A current World Champion and former World silver medalist began proceedings in the last sixteen of the Men’s Bantamweight (56kg), with Ireland’s Michael Conlan and Russian Vladimir Nikitin going for a place in the semis and a guaranteed podium finish. With honours even after two rounds, the Russian edged the final three minutes and will now meet the USA’s exciting Shakur Stevenson for a place in the gold-medal match, after he defeated Mongolia’s Tsendbaatar Erdenebat by unanimous decision.
The first Semi-Final of the Men’s Welterweight (64kg) competition was then decided as Russian World Champion Vitaly Dunaytsev defeated Hu Qianxun of China setting up a last-four showdown with Fazliddin Gaibnazarov, winner of a split decision following a tremendous tussle with the USA’s Gary Russell.
Cuba’s Julio Cesar La Cruz worked his way into the Light Heavyweight (81kg) final with a typically assured display of counter-attacking prowess against the talented Mathieu Bauderlique. The Frenchman put up a stubborn resistance and landed some big punches throughout, but La Cruz’s movement was once again excellent and combined with his greater accuracy to win a place in Thursday’s Final.
The day’s fifth World Champion in action on Day Eleven, Tony Yoka towered over Jordan’s Hussein Iashaish as the two squared up for a place in the Super Heavyweight semis, and Iashaish struggled to get close enough to score as the powerful Yoka quickly found his range. A good spell from the Jordanian in the second gave the Frenchman some problems, but he bounced back to win a unanimous decision and a Semi-Final against Filip Hrgovic, after the Croatian powered to a TKO win over Cuba’s Leinier Pero, guaranteeing his country’s first-ever Olympic boxing medal.