The third day of boxing at the London 2012 Olympic Games continued at the ExCeL with the first preliminary bouts of the Flyweight (52kg) and Light Heavyweight (81kg) categories.
In the first Flyweight (52kg) contest, Australia’s Darren Woods impressed with his cool head against 22-year-old Algerian Samir Brahimi of the World Series of Boxing Paris United Franchise. In the first round, teenager Woods looked calm and composed as his opponent did most the chasing, landing several precise shots to give himself a three point lead going into the second. Brahimi came back strong though, tightening up his defences and moving inside to good effect as he clawed his way back into the fight and overturned his deficit over the final two rounds to triumph 14:12. Brahimi now faces top seed and reigning AIBA World Champion Misha Aloian from Russian.
Orthodox Brazilian Juliao Henriques Neto, a former Panamerican Champion, used his experience against DPR Korea’s AIBA Asian Olympic Qualifying Event bronze medallist Pak Jong Chol in the day’s second bout. The North Korean fighter tried to use his height advantage but Neto’s efficient style saw the 31-year-old Brazilian Flyweight (52kg) safely into the next round of the competition with this composed 12:8 win.
Sporting a very unique haircut, Puerto Rican southpaw Jeyvier Cintron Ocasio, winner of the AIBA American Olympic Qualifying Event Rio 2012, dictated proceedings in the opening exchanges of his contest against Oteng Oteng but the 22-year-old from Botswana came back strong to ensure there was parity after the first round. This evenly matched battle continued at great pace in the second with punishing blows being traded as they ended the second once again level on points. With all to fight for, it was the 17-year-old rising star who made the difference with a couple of stinging one-twos to record a 14:12 victory over the All-Africa Games winner.
“I felt the pressure with the crowd behind my opponent, it was tough, we were throwing a lot of punches. I am just happy to have won the contest, now I can focus on my next opponent”, declared Cintron Ocasio after moving into the next round of the competition.
It was quick and unrelenting between Egypt’s Hesham Abdelaal and Kenyan Benson Njangiru as these two fighters went toe-to-toe from the first bell. The crowd were really enjoying this one as both boxers threw caution to the wind. It was evenly matched in the first but 19-year-old Abdelaal made the breakthrough in the second with a piercing straight left to edge ahead on the judges’ scorecards. The Kenyan police officer could not overturn the deficit and was defeated 19:16 by 2010 Youth Olympic Games bronze medallist Abdelaal, who now faces Uzbek fifth seed Jasurbek Latipov.
The much anticipated showdown between Mongolian superstar Tugstsogt Nyambayar and the rising star from Azerbaijan, 20-year-old Elvin Mamishzada, was a pulsating one. Both these technically proficient fighters were going for it, trading punches in the first but the young Azeri took the advantage after landing a solid right hook midway through. 2010 World University Games Champion Nyambayar then stepped up his work rate in the second and third to dominate his rival, connecting with some sublime combinations in each round to secure an emphatic 18:11 victory. Nyambayar will now meet Italy’s Vincenzo Picardi for a place in the last eight.
The Flyweights (52kg) then made way for the Light Heavyweights (81kg) as Jordan’s Ihab Almatbouli and Lukmon Lawal of Nigeria took centre stage. It was a great introduction to this category as a huge overhead and a hard right by the 26-year-old orthodox Almatbouli had the Nigerian in trouble in the first. Clearly buoyed by his early domination, Almatbouli moved further clear on points after showing good hand speed. Showboating in the third, the Jordanian was ducking and weaving before countering with some vicious punches to his rival’s body and head, as he claimed an impressive 19:7 win.
“I want to dedicate this victory to the people of Jordan and all my supporters”, declared Almatbouli afterwards.
Panamerican Games silver medallist Yamaguchi Falcao Florentino of Brazil, who fought for the WSB Mexico City Guerreros in their first season, showed his experience against India’s Sumit Sangwan as the southpaw got the better of his 19-year-old rival in the first two rounds. Sangwan, who looks an excellent prospect, continued to fight hard in the third but the savvy Brazilian prevailed 15:11.
26-year-old Fanlong Meng from China moved deceptively fast and constantly used his jab to keep Morocco’s Ahmed Barki at bay before scoring vital points with some carefully chosen shots. This tactic was paying dividends in round one and two with the Chinese southpaw opening up a six point lead coming into the third. The Moroccan 2009 African Champion just could not get inside his opponent and exited the competition after suffering a 17:8 defeat. Meng will now battle it out with Falcao Florentino for a place in the quarter-finals.
Tajikistan’s Jakhon Qurbonov, who qualified by coming second at the AIBA Asian Olympic Qualifying Event Astana 2012, faced 22-year-old 2011 Arab Games Champion Yahia Elmekachari of Tunisia. The rangy Tajik’s tactic of using the jab was quickly countered by the bright Elmekachari who threw some thunderous right hooks that landed flush on the jaw to assert his dominance and convincingly outpoint his rival in the first two rounds. That right hook connected once again several times and the Tunisian closed out the fight to win 16:8.
The final bout of the afternoon session was the one everyone was waiting for, the clash between two of the Light Heavyweight (81kg) top prospects, rising star Damien Hooper from Australia versus hard-hitting American Marcus Browne. Both these fighters were out to impress in the opening moments however as both realised they were evenly matched; they seemed to stand off each other. The US southpaw however managed to land a couple of good jabs to edge the first round. With the crowd making a lot of noise, the boxers upped their levels and we really going for it, Hooper then raised the roof as two sensational straights connected hard to the face of Browne in the third. The American was rocked and Hooper sensed blood so threw several powerful shots that had Browne in real trouble as he took a standing eight count. It was an action packed final round in which the 20-year-old Australian came out on top 13:11 in spectacular fashion.
“I felt awesome. He is a great fighter but I could see in his eyes that he did not want to be there, I was doing my tricks and I knew he did not want to be facing me so I stepped it up in the final round”.
2011 World Series of Boxing (WSB) Individual Championships finalist with Paris United, 25-year-old Nordine Oubaali of France began his assault on the Flyweight (52kg) title in style. The experienced recent AIBA European Olympic Qualifying Event winner came out of the blocks at double speed, firing all kind of shots in direction of the relatively unknown Ajmal Faisal of Afghanistan. Pummelling his rival throughout the three rounds, Oubaali was just unstoppable as he outclassed the three-time Afghan National Champion to win 22:9. The Frenchman faces USA Boxing Team Captain Raushee Warren, the third seed in the draw and a veteran of three Olympic Games.
When interviewed, Oubaali stated, “I had a fantastic preparation for these Games but unfortunately fell ill as soon as I landed here in London. As a result, I felt seriously weakened. I am happy that I managed to overcome this and box well against an opponent that I did not know”. On facing Warren next, the Frenchman declared, “I know him well; he is a very talented fighter, very quick. He has never been a World Champion or an Olympic Champion so he is not unbeatable. I have the same chances of winning than he has. It will obviously be tough and if I recover from my illness in time, I can assure you that our battle will be an even one”.
The diminutive Ghanaian Duke Micah and Jason Lavigilante of Mauritius, who were both at the AIBA Road to London II three-week training camp in the build-up to these Olympics, battled each other for the right to face the big Irish medal contender Michael Conlan in the next phase of the preliminaries. It was the orthodox Micah who looked the most assured, alternating cleverly between the head and the body with some swift one-two combinations to claim the first two rounds against his taller rival. In the third, the Ghanaian began to showboat but still the 20-year-old dominated the round to record a 18:14 victory and progress.
Micah was happy with his performance, declaring, “I felt good out there. Our President died last week so I am fighting for my country and for boxing in Ghana”. On facing Conlan, he said, “I don’t know him, I was only focused on the first bout but now I will study his fights. I know I have to raise my level so that is what I will do, you will see a stronger me in the next fight”. When asked about his preparations for the Games, he added, “Road to London in Cardiff was a great experience for me and it is one of the reasons I won today”.
A veteran of three AIBA World Boxing Championships, Thailand’s 27-year-old Chatchai Butdee came into his fight against Eker Selcuk of Turkey as the overwhelming favourite. The Thai southpaw’s speed and agility were just too much for the young Selcuk who could just not deal with the ferocity of his attacks. Selcuk, 20, who fought for the Istanbul Bosphorus WSB Franchise last season, had no response to the repertoire of shots being thrown at him, uppercuts, up to four punch combinations, it was a master class by the Thai who went on to triumph emphatically 24:10. No one will want to face Butdee after that sensational performance.
Cuba have one of the finest production lines of top class boxers in the world and their history speaks for itself, standing second only to the USA for boxing gold medals at the Olympic Games. 18-year-old Panamerican Games winner southpaw Robeisy Ramirez Carrazana showed his pedigree against the experienced Japanese Katsuaki Susa. Quick, agile, excellent footwork and precision punching, the southpaw really has it all. Ramirez Carrazana absolutely dictated proceeding in all three rounds against Kusa and eased to a comprehensive 19:7 win. Everyone will now be relishing the prospect of seeing the Cuban in action against Thailand’s Butdee.
The crowd next enjoyed the confrontation between the tall Swede Salomo Ntuve and Kazakhstan’s orthodox 21-year-old pocket-dynamo Ilyas Suleimenov in the last of the evening’s Flyweight (52kg) bouts. With vociferous support in the arena, the Kazak started on the front foot, speedily moving inside to work Ntuve’s body. With such a contrast in the athletes, it was a messy affair that Suleimenov came out on top in, winning 13:8.
The rising star from Azerbaijan Vatan Huseynli has really made a name for himself this year, qualifying for these Games after coming second at the AIBA European Olympic Qualifying Event Trabzon 2012 and also testing himself in the tough WSB with the Baku Fires. In the first Light Heavyweight (81kg) bout of the evening session, he faced the experienced 2008 Beijing Olympian Carlos Gongora Mercado of Ecuador, who also competed in the first WSB season with the American Los Angeles Matadors Franchise. Gongora took the early initiative, moving around Huseynli and hurting him with some good hooks in the first before repeating that tactic in the second to lead by three points with three minutes to go. Huseynli came back in the third with a couple of devastating straight rights that connected flush on Gongora’s jaw, one of which the Ecuadorian southpaw had to take a standing eight count for. In the end, it was the 23-year-old Gongora who progressed with a 9:8 victory; he will now face Kazak fourth seed Adilbek Niyazymbetov.
27-year-old Jeysson Monroy Varela then made his entrance and faced the tough orthodox Iranian Ehsan Rouzbahani. The Colombian, a WSB first season competitor with the Mexico City Guerreros, controlled the opening exchanges with his jab and looked confident as he claimed the first round. Rouzbahani showed great heart as he turned aggressor in the second with a spirited display that saw him draw level on points at the end of the round. The 24-year-old Iranian was clearly in the ascendancy in the third and threw several good one-twos as a huge delegation of his compatriots cheered him on to a 12:10 victory.
Ukrainian dark horse Oleksandr Gvozdyk has already participated in two AIBA World Boxing Championships but is probably one of the lesser known boxers in his country’s Olympic squad. The tall 25-year-old has matured in the last year and after a quality season with Dynamo Moscow in the WSB, he could be the surprise package in the Light Heavyweight (81kg) category in London. As strong as an ox and with a good tactical brain, the orthodox fighter really impressed as he skilfully dispatched the stocky Belarusian Mikhail Daulhaliavets by winning all three rounds and record a convincing 18:10 win.
Bosko Draskovic from Montenegro began well in his bout with a solid round that saw him take an early three point advantage over Nicaragua’s Osmar Bravo Amador. The man who was part of the first season Milano Thunder WSB squad somehow lost the initiative as his Nicaraguan rival completely turned the fight on its head with a flurry of punches from all angles in the second to claw his way back into the contest. Orthodox Bravo Amador was revitalised after his display that round and went on the rampage, unloading some ferocious hits on his opponent who had to take a standing eight count after catching one right on the nose. The Nicaraguan will now prepare to face Gvozdyk after coming back to prevail 16:11.
The experience of Germany’s Enrico Kölling told against Christian Donfack Adjoufack of Cameroon in the last contest of the day as the orthodox unloaded several powerful right hooks to his opponent’s chin. It was pretty much one way traffic as the German former Youth World Boxing Championships silver medallist kept up the pressure and dictated the pace of proceedings. The gap in international tournament experienced clearly told as Kölling, a veteran of two WSB seasons, inflicted a 15:6 defeat on Donfack Adjoufack. The German 22-year-old must now challenge number two seed and Algerian sporting icon Abdelhafid Benchabla for a place in the quarter-finals.
The fourth day of competition at the London 2012 Olympic Games will see the Men’s Light Flyweights (46-49kg) and Light Welterweights (64kg) take to the ring in the first round of preliminaries.