Bantam, Light Welter and Light Heavyweight boxers learnt their Olympic fates today in Rio as the first day of quarter-finals took place during the AIBA American Olympic Qualifying Event at the Maracanazinho. 20 bouts across five weight divisions saw twelve boxers get those all important quota places for the London 2012 Olympic Games.
In the Light Heavyweight division, where all four semi-finalist got quota places, there was sheer delight for the home crowd as Brazil's Panamerican Games silver medallist Yamaguchi Falcao defeated two-time National Champion Jonathan Savard from Canada to move into the last four. With his parents watching, the 24-year-old from Sao Paolo put in a polished display that saw him dominate all three rounds as he cruised to a comprehensive 17:8 victory. The Brazilian will now meet Nicaragua's Central American Championships silver medallist Osmar Bravo, who outpointed 23-year-old National Champion Janathan Hanson from Jamaica 9:2 to also book his place in the semis and the Olympic Games, becoming in the process the first Nicaraguan boxer to do so since the Barcelona 1992 Games.
23-year-old Beijing Olympian Carlos Gongora from Ecuador got his quota place for the London 2012 Olympic Games following his walk-over in the Light Heavyweight quarter-finals against Dominica's Lennon Bannis. US National Olympic Trials winner Marcus Browne, who made his international debut at the AIBA World Boxing Championships Baku 2011 where he narrowly lost to Russian World Champion Yegor Mekhontsev, will now meet Gongora in the semi-finals. Browne proved it yet again that he has developed into a classy as he outmanoeuvred the Dominican Republic's AMBC's Continental Championships bronze medallist Felix Manuel Valera to win 12:6 and progress.
Puerto Rico's new surprise, Panamerican Games bronze medallist 17-year-old Jantony Ortiz, who eliminated US National Champion Santos Vasquez in the first preliminary round, continued his winning streak against Venezuela's Beijing Olympian Eduard Bermudez. The Puerto Rican boxer started better and finished strongly to advance to the Light Flyweight semi-final with a 12:9 victory. US based Trinidad & Tobago teenager Carlos Suarez, who was bronze medallist at the US National Golden Gloves Tournament, also advanced to the last four in Rio following his 11:7 defeat of Peru's 20-year-old Batalla de San Juan Cup silver medallist Enoc Hualinga. He will now battle it out with Jantony Ortiz in the next round for the Olympic quota place.
Former Panamerican Champion Carlos Quipo's opponent in the Light Flyweight quarter-finals was Colombia's South American Games winner Ceiber David Avila, a member of the AIBA Road to London Program. Following a tactical first round, both boxers then reached world class levels but it was Ecuador's Quipo who made the difference to win the contest 24:15. Mexico's 18-year-old Panamerican Games winner Joselito Velasquez then set up a semi-final meeting with Quipo after dominating Canada's National Champion Emilien Boucher to record a quality 22:7 victory. The three top Light Flyweights will qualify for the London 2012 Olympic Games.
As the Bantamweights kicked-off the action in the evening session, the fighters knew that they would ensure their participations at the upcoming Olympic Games if they progressed from their quarter-final showdowns. Dominica's 23-year-old William Encarnacion was the first to book his place for London after he put in a dominant performance that saw him inflict a 26:7 defeat on Anibal Murillo from Peru. There was joy etched all over Argentina's Alberto Melian after he came out on top in his duel with Puerto Rico's Alberto Machado. Melian's 17:8 victory set up a semi-final with Encarnacion.
Keen to impress his home crowd, Robenilson Vieira came out of the blocks firing from all angles to quickly assert his authority on Guatemala's 24-year-old Joselito Aguirre. The agile Brazilian took all three rounds as he stormed into the Bantamweight semi-finals with a 19:7 win and guaranteeing himself a second appearance at the Olympic Games. Completing the semi-final line-up in the division was Oscar Valdez from Mexico who was absolutely clinical against Ecuador's Julio Cortez as the 21-year-old completely overwhelmed his rival to take a 23:9 victory.
Cesar Villarraga become the first Light welterweight to qualify for the London 2012 Olympic Games after he overturned a first round three point deficit against Canada's Yves Ulysse. The Colombian finding the combinations that saw him win 12:9. 2008 Olympic bronze medallist and former AIBA World Champion Roniel Iglesias from Cuba also advanced to the last four, the 23-year-old boxing clever throughout his fight with Ecuadorian Anderson Rojas to prevail 18:6. Iglesias and Villarraga will face-off for a place in the final.
Puerto Rico's Francisco Vargas eased through to the semi-finals after he used his jab to great effect to dominate his rival from start to finish, his 17:7 victory over Cesar Diaz from Peru setting up a showdown with the tough American Jarrel Herring who left it late to overcome the threat posed by Venezuelan Yoelvis Hernandez and win 10:8. Both victors will go into battle with the Olympic participation secured.
It was the Heavyweight division which brought the fourth day of competition to a close. Taking to the ring first was 31-year-old Samir El-Mais against Julio Deivis from Colombia. It was the Canadian who made his experience count as he defeated his rival 16:11 to advance to the final four. Yamil Peralta ensured he was still in the hunt for that all-important Olympic quota place after a stunning second round saw him dominate Venezuelan Edgar Munoz to win 15:7; the Argentinean 20-year-old will now face El-Mais for a place in the final.
Marcio Figueroa from Nicaragua was sensational against the American Michael Hunter, scoring heavily in each of the three rounds to record an impressive 25:7 victory. Ecuadorian sensation Julio Castillo then was too strong for Brazil's Elber Santos as several flurries of punches did the damage in the final two rounds as he recorded a 13:4 victory. Figueroa and Castillo will now lock horns to advance to the final and guarantee an Olympic quota place.
Wednesday will mark the second day of the quarter-finals as the race for the London 2012 Olympic Games hots up in the picturesque city of Rio de Janeiro.
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