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Olympic Boxing: Day Nine

Day nine of competition at the London 2012 Olympic Games at the ExCeL Arena hosted the action once again with the Men’s Bantamweight (56kg) and Heavyweight (91kg) quarter-finals taking place in the evening session before a capacity crowd. Earlier in the day, Olympic history was re-written as women’s boxing made its long-awaited debut at the Games in a watershed moment for the sport. The world was introduced to the three Women’s weight categories, Flyweight (51kg), Lightweight (60kg) and Middleweight (75kg).

Afternoon Session:

2010 AIBA World Champion and 2011 European Champion Elena Savelyeva from Russia got proceedings underway in the first of the Women’s Flyweight (51kg) contests versus the People’s Democratic Republic of Korea’s 27-year-old Hye Song Kim. It was Savelyeva, a bronze medallist at the AIBA World Boxing Championships Qinhunangdao 2012, who got the better of the first round with a big right hand the difference at the interval. The Russian edged the second with a solid left hook and took the third with a sweet uppercut. In the final round, the points were shared as she progressed to the quarter-finals with a 12:9 win. 28-year-old Savelyeva will now face top seed and reigning AIBA World Champion Cancan Ren from China.

It was fast and furious in the second bout of the day as Brazilian southpaw Erica Matos went head to head with Karlha Magliocco. It was the Venezuelan who began well as she landed several good hooks to take the first. 29-year-old Matos turned the tide in the second, cornering her opponent and unleashing some good connecting combinations. This unpredictable contest then saw 2010 Panamerican Champion Magliocco regain the initiative as the orthodox fighter dominated the third to take a slender point advantage going into the final round. In the fourth, both fighters went for it and the crowd were up on their feet as punches were thrown from all directions, but it was the Venezuelan who prevailed 15:14 to set-up a meeting with Marlen Esparza of the USA in the last eight.

Chungneijang Mery Kom Hmangte, also known as Mary Kom, the five-time AIBA Pinweight (46kg) World Champion who went up two weight categories in order to qualify for these Olympic Games, brought the house down as she made her entrance into the ring. The Indian icon faced tough Karolina Michalczuk of Poland in what promised to be an enthralling encounter. The diminutive Kom was conceding a lot reach and height to her opponent and had to use her superior technique and shot making skills in order to not be charged down by the continually onrushing Michalczuk. It was a real clash of styles and after sharing the first round, Kom managed to land a couple of good hooks to edge the second. In the third, the 29-year-old mother of two from India was getting to grips with her aggressive rival and was starting to land more and more punches, a huge left one of the highlights of round three. The spectators were treated to a sumptuous final round as Kom held on to record a 19:14 victory as she held back tears when announced as the winner.

An emotional Mary Kom said after her win, “This is a fantastic day, it is unbelievable for me to be here, very special. I have been fighting twelve years to get to this point, to be at the Olympic Games. It has been my life-long ambition to get here. My victory is very emotional because not only as am I finally here but it is also my twins’ fifth birthday today and I am missing it. This win is a gift to them”.

In the last of the Flyweight (51kg) bouts, Bulgaria’s Stoyka Petrova battled Siona Fernandes from New Zealand in an excellent contest between two top boxers. The 26-year-old Bulgarian made her experience count as she slowly wore down her opponent, scoring more and more as the rounds went by to move into the quarter-finals with a convincing 23:11 win.

The crowd went wild for the first of the Lightweight (60kg) fights as Natasha Jonas of Great Britain made her big entrance alongside the USA’s Quanitta ‘Queen’ Underwood. The powerful orthodox American began on the front foot, using her jab to great effect as she edged the first. The pace was unrelenting as both boxers traded punches, but a great right hook in the second saw the 28-year-old Brit take the round. Jonas began to exert more authority to dominate her rival and scored heavily in the third. A strong left followed by some good combinations in the fourth ensured the local favourite took the round and the victory. There were wild celebrations from Jonas as she was declared the winner 21:13. The British orthodox fighter now faces top seed, quadruple AIBA World Champion Katie Taylor in the quarter-finals.

26-year-old 2010 AIBA World Boxing Championships bronze medallist Cheng Dong from China and Romanian orthodox Mihaela Lacatus were pretty well matched in most departments, with the same build and the same reach. There was not much to separate the two on paper however Dong was out of the blocks much quicker and caught the experienced 30-year-old Romanian, who had come out of retirement to qualify for these Olympic Games, with several good shots in the first round. The points were then shared in rounds two and three with both unable to find a breakthrough. The Chinese stepped it up in the closing stages to wrap up a 10:5 win. She will now test herself against Tajikistan’s Asian Champion Mavzuna Chorieva for a place in the semi-finals.

The showdown between Brazil’s Adriana Araujo and Saida Khassenova of Kazakhstan was a contest out of the top drawer with both boxers really going at each other. Khassenova began well but then 31-year-old multiple-Panamerican Champion Araujo slowly picked her opponent apart with more effective punches in the latter stages. In the end, the Brazilian went on to win the bout 16:14 and she will now meet Morocco’s Mahjouba Oubtil.

In the last Lightweight (60kg) contest, tall New Zealander Alexis Pritchard faced 31-year-old Rim Jouini of Tunisia. 28-year-old orthodox Pritchard used her jab well in the first round before scoring with some good one-twos to edge it. Jouini came back in the second and upped her work rate, cornering her opponent and unleashing a couple of hard straights to take the round. Pritchard dominated the final two rounds in style, turning it on when she needed to most, with the charismatic Kiwi progressing into the quarter final stages with a well-taken 15:10 victory.

The Middleweights (75kg) were in action next as Kazak Marina Volnova locked horns with 26-year-old Elizabeth Andiego. It was a tour de force by the orthodox Volnova, moving well and looking to land with that deft left hook of hers. Her Kenyan rival struggled throughout with the accuracy of her shots and Volnova confidently won the bout 20:11 after taking each round.

Experienced 32-year-old Swede Anna Laurell battled hard against Naomi-Lee Fischer-Rasmussen, using her reach to throw good hard one-twos. The Australian 26.year-old showed huge heart and determination to try and move inside in order to score points but the Swedish star was clever and countered well to win each round. Laurell advancing to the quarter-finals with a bruising 24:17 win. She will now meet US teenage sensation Claressa Shields.

2008 World Champion Jinzi Li of China started well against the 23-year-old Brazilian Roseli Feitosa, using her power to great effect as she threw some big punches in each round. There was a quality comeback by Feitosa in the final round but unfortunately after losing the first three, it was too late as Li claimed a 19:14 victory.

The President of Azerbaijan was in the stands to lend his support to Elena Vystropova in her contest with Edith Ogoke. The Nigerian 21-year-old sprung a huge surprise as he ferocious attacks had Vystropova on the back foot in the first two round, landing some thunderous shots to take both by two points. The experienced Azeri gathered her senses in the third and started to box well with her superior technique clawing back her deficit from four to one point coming into the final round. Ogoke defied the odds as she stood firm and won the contest 14:12.

Evening Session:

Cuban southpaw Lazaro Alvarez Estrada, the top seed in the Bantamweight (56kg) draw, faced Robenilson Vieira de Jesus of Brazil in the first of the quarter-finals. The Brazilian orthodox fighter started off furiously, throwing the jab then the quick one-two to impressively outscore the 21-year-old reigning AIBA World Champion. In the second, the favourite stepped up the pace and looked to impose himself, pummelling his rival with some quality left straights and quick combinations to take a one point advantage going into the second. The third round, saw the Cuban connect again with that straight left with 23-year-old Vieira de Jesus also working hard but Alvarez Estrada had too much in his arsenal as he dominated the final round to win 16:11. It was a sensational way to start the evening.

One of the surprise packages of these Olympic Games so far has been 21-year-old Oscar Fierro Valdez, who impressively dispatched of fourth seed Anvar Yunusov in the previous round of the competition. The young Mexican this time battled John Joe Nevin of Ireland in a riveting encounter. Fast and furious, the two orthodox fighters were evenly matched in the first round with Fierro Valdez, the 2008 AIBA Youth World Champion, doing the chasing and forcing the Irishman onto the back foot. Nevin was forced to counter-punch but he did so expertly, taking the second by three points. He was getting to grips with the speedy Mexican in the third, landing several slick punches, with one body shots and uppercut connecting perfectly on his opponent. 2008 Olympian Fierro Valdez though caught the Irishman with the body shot of the tournament so far and Nevin had to take a knee in order to get his wind back but the 23-year-old held on to book his place in the last four with a 19:13 victory.

AIBA World Boxing Championships silver medallist Luke Campbell of Great Britain came up against savvy operator Detelin Dalakliev in the third Bantamweight (56kg) quarter-final. Bulgaria’s 2009 AIBA World Champion started off well, unsettling the 24-year-old Campbell with his offensive strategy and Dalakliev, as a result, took the round by a point. The southpaw was now trying to box his way out in the second, connecting with a couple of hard left straights but still the 29-year-old Dalakliev came back with some swift and precise counter-punches to draw the round. Now trailing, Campbell had to dig deep against an extremely tough opponent, but after landing some good combinations to both the head and the body, he scraped through to the semi-finals by the narrowest of margins and won 16:15.

It was a real clash of styles between tall Japanese southpaw Satoshi Shimizu and 25-year-old Mohamed Amine Ouadahi. The Algerian’s speed was making the difference in the first as he managed to land a few good overheads after getting past that almost telescopic jab of Shimizu’s, and he went into the second round with a point advantage. The Japanese and Ouadahi were very evenly matched in the second with both throwing a lot of punches. As both boxers began to tire, they were leaving themselves open and it is then that Shimizu’s size gave him the edge as he reverted to that jab of his to claim that remaining semi-final spot by prevailing 17:15.

Afterwards, it was the Heavyweight (91kg) boxers taking to the ring with first up the battle of the big Eastern bruisers. AIBA World Champion Oleksandr Usyk versus Artur Berbetiev of Russia was a momentous battle with two of the category’s best fighters coming together. It was brutal but delicately poised as both fighters were tied after the first round. The Ukrainian southpaw and Berbetiev then went toe-to-toe in the second, trading lots of punches to the delight of the crowds. The taller Usyk seemed to be connecting with the cleaner shots and he took the round by three points. The 25-year-old Ukrainian had done enough to claim a 17:13 victory.

21-year-old Argentinean sensation Yamil Peralta Jara got right into tough Tervel Pulev’s face in the first round, but the Bulgarian quickly countered and began exerting his authority with some good one-two combinations before looking to land with the big overhead. Peralta Jara’s fast start ensured the first was shared on points. The 28-year-old orthodox fighter from Bulgaria took the second with the clever use of his jab and then when attacked, countered with some hard straights. Pulev’s experience told in the final round as he closed out proceedings to win 13:10 and set up a semi-final showdown with Usyk.

Rising star Teymur Mammadov of Azerbaijan, who had underwhelmed in his first bout, was looking like his former self in the early stages of his bout with Belarusian orthodox fighter Siarhei Karneyeu, using that famed hook and jab in the early stages. With the 19-year-old Azeri now looking comfortable, he was showcasing his repertoire of shots, mixing it well with both the body shots and straight one-twos scoring heavily to take the first round. Karneyeu was fighting bravely against his taller and leaner-looking opponent and his endeavour saw him put him under a lot of pressure and he took the second in style. The third turned into exactly what the Belarusian wanted, a slug fest. Karneyeu pushed Mammadov all the way and when the score went to count back with the score tied at 19:19, it was the Azeri who was declared the winner.

2008 Beijing Olympic Games silver medallist Clemente Russo from Italy faced Cuba’s Jose Larduet Gomez in what promised to be an extremely tactical contest between two classic counter-punchers. The experienced Italian, who qualified by winning the World Series of Boxing first season Individual Championships, and his opponent’s style were just incompatible in the first and the points were shared. In the second, Russo’s big overhead caught the 22-year-old Cuban and he edged the round. It was far from pretty and the crowd were letting their feelings known but in typical Russo style, he took the victory 12:10 to move into the semi-finals where he will face Mammadov.

* * *

Tomorrow sees the women once more in action with the quarter-finals taking place in each of the three weight categories. There will also be the Men’s Light (60kg) and Middleweight (75kg) quarter-finals to look forward to.




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