The quarter-finals at the AIBA African Olympic Qualifying Event in Casablanca ended today with sixteen boxers securing their places at the forthcoming 30th Summer Olympic Games. Seven Algerian boxers have now qualified for London and their team has ensured they have the most representatives from the region just above Morocco.
South Africa's All Africa Games bronze medallist Ayabonga Sonjica dominated the first two rounds against Mozambique's Antonio Macie Watch, who tried everything in the last three minutes, but the South African boxer had more than enough advantage to take the victory. Sonjica became in the process the first South African fighter to qualify and he will now meet in the Bantamweight semi-final Ghana's 18-year-old UK based Isaac Zion Dogboe, who eliminated Tanzania's tough veteran boxer, Emilian Patrick Pollino.
Gabon's experience Romeo Braexir Lemboumba defeated the top favourite of the Bantamweight class, Mauritius' Beijing Olympic Games bronze medallist Bruno Julie in the last preliminary round. Following his great success he fought, for the Olympic quota, Tunisia's African Youth Champion Bilel M'Hamdi. Lemboumba had a one point deficit coming into the final round but connected with some telling punches to make the difference and take a win that resulted in the first quota for his country. His next rival will be Morocco's veteran Aboubaker Seddik Lbida, a member of his national squad since 2001, who can now prepare for his first ever Olympic Games.
Burkina Faso's AIBA Road to London Program member Brice Romaric Bassole won one contest at the last AIBA World Championships becoming the first Burkinabe boxer in the history of the competition to do so. The 22-year-old African Zonal Champion Bassole had a great final round against Cameroon's Shaheed Benazir Bhutto Memorial Tournament silver medallist Serge Ambomo. The final verdict of their Light Welterweight quarter-final was 12:11 to Bassole, who's next opponent will be Morocco's rising star, World Combat Games silver medallist Abdelhak Aatakni, who eliminated Mauritius' All Africa Games winner and Commonwealth Games bronze medallist Louis Richarno Colin 11:8.
Tunisia's All Africa Games silver medallist Abderrazak Haouia also qualified for the London 2012 Olympic Games following him winning each of the three rounds against Zambia's AIBA Youth World Championships competitor inexperienced Gilbert Chombe. The Tunisian Light Welterweight boxer's next opponent will be Doha International Challenge winner Eslam Ahmed Mohamed Aly, who acquired the first Egyptian quota in Casablanca.
Mali's Mohamed Diaby, who lives in France, had a quick contest against Gabon's Yannick Mitoumba. Diaby led 4:2 after the first round and Mitoumba could not go the distance as the Malian boxer's hard punches in the second frame resulted in a premature end in their Welterweight contest.
South Africa's All Africa Games bronze medallist Siphiwe Lusizi ensured a personal career highlight in Casablanca after he triumphed over Cameroon's All Africa Games winner Joseph Mulema, who was the top favourite of the Welterweight division. Both boxers were outstanding but unfortunately only one of them could advance to the semi-finals. Lusizi edged their narrow contest and will now meet Mali's Diaby.
Morocco's Beijing Olympian Mehdi Khalsi did not give many chances to Tanzania's Selemani Kidunda in their Welterweight quarter-final and now the host nation's pride can prepare for his second Olympic Games. Khalsi's next rival will be Algeria's Ilyas Abbadi, who eliminated Niger's AIBA Road to London Program member Mustapha Abdoulaye Hima and achieved the North African boxing nation's sixth Olympic quota.
Morocco's Badreddine Haddioui and Egypt's AIBA World Championships bronze medallist and three-time Olympian Mohamed Abdelmaghoud Hikal put on a great show in Casablanca. After a very tactical first round, both fighters were in with a chance of advancing to the last four but it was Haddioui who turned up the heat and secured two points advantage before the final round. Haddioui took the third and secured the host nation's sixth Olympic quota in front of his home crowd. Hikal has now got a chance of reaching his fourth Olympic Games but the Moroccan boxer needs to win the Middleweight class to do so.
Ghana's new Middleweight star, UK based Lerrone Richards had two great victories in Casablanca but could not keep up his winning streak and was defeated by Algeria's African Champion Abdelmalek Rahou. The North African Middleweight boxer's next rival in the semi-final will be Namibia's Beijing Olympian Desmond Mujandjae Kasuto.
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