The boxing tournament of the 1st Youth Olympic Games got underway today in the International Convention Centre right in downtown Singapore. A total of 66 boxers from 49 countries (six in each weight category) are vying for medals in probably the last major international boxing tournament with the eleven-category system.
The quarterfinals of the five lower weights were contested in the afternoon - two boxers per category had received byes, making it straight to the semifinals.
For starters, 18-year-old Ryan Burnett of Ireland dominated his Belorussian (17) counterpart in the first light flyweight bout. The lad from Belfast built a 4-0 advantage with crisp right jabs in the opening round, then coasted to an easy 12-0 victory. "I had a lot of confidence, my conditioning was there," said the silver medallist of the recent Youth World Championships held in Baku, Azerbaijan.
Zohidjon Hoorboyev of Uzbekistan, bronze medallist at the Youth World Championships, had his hands full with the inexperienced 18-year-old soldier Haziza Matusi. The African boxer's strange style did not seem to be to Hoorboyev's liking, and the score was only 2-0 after two rounds. Then in the final round the Uzbek moved into fifth gear and won 7-1.
17-yerar-old Hesham Abdelalal from the Egyptian capital of Cairo tried to upgrade his bronze medal from the Baku Youth Worlds against the reigning Youth World Champion, Shaban Shahpalangov of Azerbaijan. The Junior Africa Championships' gold medallist chased his opponent all around the ring, peppering the Azeri with lightning-fast right jabs, taking a 4 to 1 lead after two rounds. Shahpalangov attempted to come back in the third, but it was too little, too late - the Egyptian scored an 8-4 victory, causing the first major upset of the tournament.
Abdelalal was overwhelmed by his feelings and a crowd of Egyptian fans after his hand had been raised by the referee. "I wanted this win very badly, and I did it," he said in a hurry.
The Puerto Rican boxers' brilliant performance raised quite a few eyebrows last September at the Milan Elite Worlds and Emmanuel Rodriguez - hailing from the little town of Vega Baja - did the same here in Singapore. The silver medallist of the Baku Youth World Championships boxed a close match with Vasily Vetkin of Russia for two rounds, but then dominated in the third, using his longer reach to a great advantage. Russian boxers do not get beaten very often by such a large margin (11-4). "This is not a surprise for me, I have already been second at the Pan-American Championships in Mexico City, among grown men, not juniors. My goal is to be Olympic Champion in London," Rodriguez said.
The two bronze medallists at the last Youth World Championships faced each other in the first quarterfinal of the bantamweight class. In spite of this, 16 year-old Dawid Michelus from the Western Polish town of Pila clearly outboxed his more experienced Romanian opponent to win 4-0, once even crawling through Alexandru Marin's legs, prompting huge laughter from the stands.
Stan Nicette of the Seychelles was no match for 16 year-old Youth World Champion Robeisy Ramirez of Cuba. The young lad from the town of Cienfuegos punched his opponent at will, and won by an overwhelming margin. Nicette picked up two standing eight counts along the way. "I started boxing just three years ago, my dad is a great fan of boxing, he told me to pick it up," Ramirez said. "I live in Cienfuegos, but train in the capital La Habana, at the National Sports Centre. My coach is Humberto Horta, and I want to win not only the Youth Olympics, but the big one as well. I have good sensations, hope to beat the Polish guy in the semifinals".
Elvin Isayev of Azerbaijan is a big puncher and Anand Dashdorj of Mongolia could feel how heavy his opponents fists are. Dashdorj was counted on in the second round, and the bronze medallist from this year's Baku Youth Worlds (Isayev's hometown) won easily 13-2.
Jakub Chval of the Czech Republic chose a rather strange strategy against Fradimil Macayo of Venezuela: he kept attacking, kept his counterpart under constant pressure - without practically punching! But since boxing is a sport of punches, the Czech stood no chance against the fluid moving South American. Chval received a standing eight count in the second, had trouble surviving the bout, and lost by a big margin, 2 to 15. An interesting quote from the winner: "I am so tired I cannot talk."
Evaldas Petrauskas of Lithuania may be a short boxer, but he is long on stamina and punching power. The silver medallist from the Baku Youth Worlds dominated his German opponent throughout the nine minutes. Thomas Vahrenholt picked up a count in the third, paving the way for Petrauskas to advance to the semifinal on the back of a comfortable 6-2 win.
Krishnan Vikas - one of the most decorated boxers of this Youth Olympic Games, with a Youth World Championships gold medal and an Elite Indian National Championships title under his belt - had a strong opponent in Armenian Hrayr Matevosyan. Finally the Indian prevailed 7-2, but after a hard fight. "No, it was not difficult," said Vikas, who has been boxing for just four years. "I had stronger opponents at the Indian Elite Championships, and I want to win this Youth Olympics. My bigger goal is the London Games in 2012."
Youth Olympic Games, Singapore
Saturday, 21 August, 2010 14.00 - Afternoon
Light Fly 48 kg Ryan Burnett (IRL)-Vadzim Kirylenka (BLR) 12-0
Haziza Matusi (RWA)-Zohidjon Hoorboyev (UZB) 1-7
Fly 51 kg Shaban Shahpalangov (AZE)-Hesham Abdelaal (EGY) 4-8
Emmanuel Rodriguez (PUR)-Vasily Vetkin (RUS) 11-4
Bantam 54 kg Alexandru Marin (ROU)-Dawid Michelus (POL) 0-4
Robeisy Ramirez (CUB)-Stan Nicette (SEY) 17-3
Feather 57 kg Anand Dashdorj (MGL)-Elvin Isayev (AZE) 2-13
Jakub Chval (CZE)-Fradimil Macayo (VEN) 2-15
Light 60 kg Thomas Vahrenholt (GER)-Evaldas Petrauskas (LTU) 2-6
Hrayr Matevosyan (ARM)-Krishan Vikas (IND) 2-7
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