The first women’s bouts of the Rio 2016 Boxing Tournament got underway on Friday in Riocentro Pavilion 6, with four bouts at Flyweight (51kg) and Lightweight (60kg). In the men’s Light Flyweight (49kg) Semi-Finals, Yurberjen Martinez made history as the first Colombian to reach an Olympic Boxing gold-medal match, before the Lightweight (60kg) semi-finalists were confirmed along with the last 16 of the Middleweight (75kg) competition.
The strength of the Women’s Flyweight competition was highlighted from the very first bout, as Ukraine’s Tetyana Kob defeated former World Champion Stanimra Petrova, taking advantage of rare gaps in the Bulgarian’s defences to establish an early lead that she refused to give up.
Kob will now face London 2012 gold medalist Nicola Adams in Tuesday’s first Quarter-Final, while Canada’s Mandy Bujold also progressed, defeating Yodgoroy Mirzaeva. A big left from Bujold had the Uzbek on the canvas in the second round, and from that point there looked to be only one outcome, the Canadian winning all four rounds to set up a Quarter-Final match with China’s London 2012 runner-up Ren Cancan.
The Women’s Lightweight (60kg) competition got underway with Finland’s experienced Mira Potkonen edging a close encounter with Brazil’s London 2012 bronze medalist Adriana Araujo, before China’s 2014 Asian Games champion Yin Junhua defeated Morocco’s Hasnaa Lachgar to join Potkonen in the last eight.
The Colombian fans were out in full force for the first Men’s Light Flyweight Semi-Final as Yurberjen Martinez looked to find a way past the flamboyant Cuban Johanys Argilagos. Martinez took the tie to the 19 year-old who, for the first time in the Games, struggled to find a rhythm. After a strong finish, Martinez became the first Colombian ever to reach an Olympic gold-medal match, facing Uzbekistan’s Hasanboy Dusmatov after the Uzbek beat American Nico Hernandez.
Triple World Champion Lazaro Alvarez came up against another in-form American Carlos Balderas in an engaging first Lightweight (60kg) Quarter-Final. The match swung both ways before Alvarez drew on his all of experience to establish a narrow lead that had become a unanimous judges’ decision by the end of the third round.
A battle between two great APB rivals followed, with the crowd getting behind Brazil’s Robson Conceição as he pushed for a podium finish against Uzbek Hurshid Tojibaev. It was the Brazilian who started brightest, landing some big rights before continuing to exploit Tojibaev’s defences and earn a crucial win.
Arlen Lopez then powered into the Middleweight (75kg) Quarter-Finals with a huge left that put Hungary’s Zoltan Harcsa on the canvas at the end of the first round, leaving the referee no choice but to stop the match. The Cuban will face France’s Christian Mbilli after he blasted past Ecuador’s Marlo Delgado with some big left crosses to seal his spot in the last eight. Kazakh Zhanibek Alimkhanuly’s victory over Algerian Ilyas Abbadi wrapped up a superb morning session of Olympic boxing.
The women boxers got the evening session under way, with Colombia’s Ingrit Valencia defeating the Central African Republic’s invitational boxer Judith Mbougnade by technical knockout after a heavy blow in the third round caused the referee to end the bout.
France’s Sarah Ourahmoune was several inches shorter than her opponent Zohra Ez Zahraoui, but evaded the Moroccan’s longer reach for the majority of the bout while landing some heavy blows to earn a comprehensive victory and set up a Quarter-Final tie with Kazakhstan second-seed Zhaina Shekerbekova.
The second of the day’s tripartite invitational boxers was the Federated States of Micronesia’s Jennifer Chieng. Facing Mikaela Mayer of the USA in a tough Olympic debut, Chieng was far from overaught, posing Mayer plenty of problems early, but the American’s physical superiority showed as the contest went on, earning a last eight showdown against Russia’s former World Champion Anastasiia Beliakova.
The Australian fans gave Shelley Watts a rousing reception as she went into the ring against Italy’s former Youth World Champion Irma Testa. The tough Italian emerged victorious from a draining encounter as Watts threw everything at her in the final minutes, and Testa now has until Monday to restore her energies for a tricky Quarter-Final against French World Champion Estelle Mossely.
Two more men’s Lightweight (60kg) Semi-Finalists were then confirmed, as first Mongolian third-seed Otgondalai Dorjnyambuu looked in impressive form overcoming Algeria’s Reda Benbaziz, before France’s Sofiane Oumiha battled his way past Azerbaijan’s former World Champion Albert Selimov to guarantee himself a podium finish.
Four Middleweight (75kg) bouts completed the 14th session of Rio 2016 Boxing, with Russia’s Artem Chebotarev and Azerbaijan’s Kamran Shakhsuvarly vying for a place in the last eight. The Azeri’s positive start saw him through a frenetic contest, and he was joined by Mexico’s Misael Rodriguez, winner by walkover against Ireland’s Michael O’Reilly.
Egyptian medal hope Hosam Abdin again looked sharp as he defeated Cameroon 18 year-old Dieudonne Seyi Ntsengue, before India’s Krishan Shivas outscored Turkey’s Onder Sipal. The session was complete as Uzbekistan’s 2015 World Championship silver medalist Bektemir Melikuziev beat Australian Daniel Lewis by unanimous decision.