The 2012 AIBA African Olympic Qualifying Event started this Saturday 28 April in Casablanca, Morocco, with 154 boxers from 30 countries registered. For the opening day, 17 bouts were scheduled at 56, 60, 64, 69, 75, 81 and 91kg.
Beijing Olympic Games bronze medallist, 34-year-old Mauritian Bruno Julie did not give many chances to Mali's newcomer Dembele N'Paly in bantamweight. The All-Africa Games gold medallist dominated each round against his young rival and won their bout 23:6.
Benin's WSB boxer Shafick Chitou, participated in the AIBA Road to Milan training camp and then advanced to the last 16 of the 2009 AIBA World Boxing Championships. He had a four points advantage before the final round against Commonwealth Games competitor, Ghana's Benjamin Lamptey. His rival had an excellent final round and almost turned their lightweight battle but Chitou was able to stay one point ahead.
African Championships silver medallist and Arab Games silver medallist, Algerian Sid Ali Berrag had also a great battle against All-Africa Games bronze medallist, South African Thulani Mbenge. The Algerian was leading 9:6 after six minutes and kept his advantage in the last frame despite Mbenge's efforts.
Berrag's next opponent will be All-Africa Games silver medallist, Tunisian Abderrazak Haouia who succeeded narrowly over Ghana's teenager Musa Rahman Lawson. The light welterweight boxer had one point deficit after the first round but managed to turn up the heat in the last three minutes and eliminated his younger opponent.
Morocco's welterweight No.1 Mehdi Khalsi competed at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games and kept his chances to qualify for London. The 26-year-old local favourite had a great battle against the very brave Kenyan Rayton Nduku Okwiri. Finally Khalsi celebrated a victory but he will need to prove a better level against the strong Nigerian Kehinde Ademuyiwa in the next round.
UK based and Ghana's new sensation, 20-year-old Lerrone Richards travelled to Casablanca for a quota place. The middleweight demonstrated an excellent performance against South Africa's two-time National Champion Renson Hlahla Hobwana and won each of the three rounds.
DR Congo's middleweight, National Champion and 19-year-old Dady Bola Konga opened the competition against Equatorial Guinea's newcomer Emilio Rondo. Unexpectedly, Konga knocked out his rival after a balanced first frame and will now face Lerrone Richards in the last 16.
All-Africa Games silver medallist 24-year-old Wesley Efetobor Apochi is Nigeria's best hope in this Qualifying Event. Strong Apochi lost the first two rounds against Morocco's Abdelouhed Bendaghor but still managed to advance to the quarter-finals at heavyweight. Bendaghor's early loss means that Morocco won't be able to send a maximum number of ten boxers to London.
Cameroon's current African Champion and WSB fighter Romaric Ngoula Tangoum also advanced to the heavyweight quarter-finals after beating Ivory Coast's newcomer Junior Bayou. The referee stopped their unequal contest at the beginning of the second round. The Cameroonian's next opponent will be Kenya's veteran Daniel Shisia who eliminated Angola's Tumba Silva by a comfortable 21:9.
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