The Men’s Lightweight (60kg), Welterweight (69kg) and Light Heavyweight (81kg) boxers took to the ring on Sunday morning, kicking off a second busy day at the Rio 2016 Boxing competition. Eighteen nationalities were represented across the morning’s ten bouts, and it was Kenya’s Rayton Okwiri and the Ecuadorian Carlos Mina who got the crowd fired up in the opening session.
It was Dutchman Enrico Lacruz and opponent Chu-En Lai of Chinese Taipei who were the first men in action, the two having earned their places in Rio via the World Qualifying Tournament in Baku. Netherlands’ top lightweight looked the sharper of the two from the outset, and went on to edge the split decision and reach the second round on Tuesday evening.
Russian Adlan Abdurashidov and Papua New Guinea’s Thadius Katua exchanged some heavy blows throughout their three rounds, but it was Abdurashidov who landed the more meaningful punches to set up a difficult tie against Algerian Reda Benbaziz, who never looked back after putting Egypt’s Abdelaal Mahmoud on the canvas in the first round of his Olympic opener.
The Men’s Welterweight (69kg) competition got underway with a brilliant meeting between Kenyan Rayton Okwiri and the experienced Russian Andrei Zamkovoi. There was little to choose between the two after three gripping rounds, but the judges’ split decision went to the Kenyan to the delight of the crowd, and Okwiri will now face Moroccan top-seed Mohammed Rabii on 11 August.
Argentina’s Ignacio Palmetta went into his bout against London 2012 Olympian Tuvshinbat Byamba’s full of confidence, but the Mongolian’s longer reach proved decisive as he stifled his opponent and produced some brilliant counter-attacks. The win sets up a second-round encounter with Ireland’s Steven Donnelly, who never looked in trouble during his unanimous win over Algerian Zohir Kedache. Lithuania’s Eimantas Atanionis then booked his place in the second round with a comprehensive win over China’s Wei Liu.
The Light Heavyweights wrapped up the morning session, with Germany’s Sergei Michel up against the first of Ecuador’s four Rio 2016 boxers, Carlos Mina. The popular South American won the opening round before stuttering in the second but, after coming back with renewed intent in the final exchanges, Mina earned a deserved win, celebrating with some fancy footwork for his rapturous Rio crowd and the Riocentro venue was bouncing once again.
Britain’s Joshua Buatsi looked in impressive form as he controlled his bout against Kennedy Katende, earning the first TKO of Rio 2016 midway through the third round as the Ugandan threw in the towel. Albert Ramon Ramirez then came out strongly as Russia’s Petr Khamukov struggled to find his rhythm, the Venezuelan earning a split decision that keeps his dream of an Olympic podium finish alive.