It was a memorable day of Olympic Boxing on Saturday as the Men’s Olympic Flyweight (52kg) competition got up and running with eight preliminary bouts followed by the Welterweight (69kg) Quarter-Finals, two Heavyweight semis and the return of the Super Heavyweights (+91kg), including a first appearance from current World Champion Tony Yoka. With the legendary Floyd Mayweather and members of the US Basketball team watching from the stands in a packed Riocentro Pavilion 6, the halfway stage of the competition was reached in grand style, as a series of TKOs raised the roof.
Kazakhstan’s Olzhas Sattibayev got the action underway with an emphatic win over Puerto Rico’s Jeyvier Cintron, setting up an exciting second round tie with top-seed Alvin Mamishzada on Monday. Brendan Irvine then struggled to contain the formidable firepower of Uzbekistan’s Shakhobidin Zhoiroz, and although the Irishman found some rhythm as his Olympic debut wore on, the Uzbek registered a comfortable win and now meets USA’s Antonio Vargas, winner against Brazil’s Juliao Neto.
Venezuela’s Yoel Finol was in sparkling form as he negotiated a tough bout against the lively Dominican Leonel Nunez, before Bulgaria’s Daniel Asenov defeated Finol’s fellow South American Fernando Martinez of Argentina by split decision.
Reigning World Welterweight (69kg) Champion Mohammed Rabii then went up against Ireland’s Steven Donnelly with a place in the Semi-Final and a guaranteed podium finish at stake. The Moroccan looked back to his best form, repeatedly finding his target and dodging Donnelly’s counters, and will now need to repeat the performance if he is to beat Shakhram Giyasov. The Uzbek made light work of his tie against Cuba’s London 2012 gold medalist Roniel Iglesias, and Monday’s last-four tie will be unmissable.
Russia’s towering Evgeny Tishchenko booked his place in the Heavyweight (91kg) final with a consummate display against Uzbekistan’s Rustam Tulaganov. The World Champion delivered some hammer blows, and despite the Uzbek’s greater mobility, he was unable to avoid defeat.
Reigning World Champion Tony Yoka got the day’s Super Heavyweight (+91kg) contests under way, and the Frenchman looked in commanding form against the US Virgin Islander Laurent Clayton. Yoka’s win will see him face Jordan’s Hussein Iashaish in the first of Tuesday’s Quarter-Finals after a close victory over Romania’s APB World Champion Mihai Nistor.
Cuba’s Leinier Pero and Italy’s Guido Vianello both had good spells of boxing on their Olympic debuts, but Pero’s overall superiority across the three rounds was reflected in a unanimous judges’ decision. The Cuban will face the big Croatian Filip Hrgovic in the last eight after he registered a comfortable win against Turkey’s Ali Demirezen.
France’s Elie Konki got Saturday’s evening session underway with a win over German Hamza Touba in the first Men’s Flyweight (52kg) bout and will now meet Russia’s Misha Aloian in a tricky second-round tie on Monday. Mexican Elias Emigdio Abarca was then floored with a heavy body blow in the middle of his bout with Mongolia’s Enkh-Amar Kharkhuu, but recovered brilliantly to progress.
China’s Hu Jianguan edged a brilliant battle with Turkey’s Selcuk Eker and will meet Armenia’s Narek Abgaryan after he progressed against the experienced Ugandan Ronald Serugo. The second-round line-up was completed when Morocco’s Achraf Kharroubi overcame Lesotho’s Moroke Mokhotho to set up a tough match against Cuban second-seed Yosbany Veitia on Monday night.
The line-up for the second Light Welterweight (69kg) Semi-Final was then decided, as Thailand’s Ardee Saylom and France’s Souleymane Cissokho put on a superb show of boxing for the packed house. Ardee had the better of the first three minutes, but Cissokho finished strongly to assure himself at least a bronze ahead of what will be a tough tie against Kazakhstan’s lightening-fast Daniyar Yeleussinov. The former World Champion was up against the spirited Venezuelan Gabriel Maestre, and conjured another majestic performance to keep his hopes of gold in Rio well and truly alive.
The second Heavyweight (91kg) Semi-Final saw Kazakhstan’s Vassily Levit take on Erislandy Savon, and if the Cuban narrowly won the first round, the second belonged to Levit, leaving the last three minutes on a knife edge. Levit came out with more intent, and as Savon struggled to find his range, the delighted Kazakh advanced to the gold-medal match.
Britain’s Joe Joyce made quick work of his opening Super Heavyweight (+91kg) bout against Cape Verde’s Davilson Morais, registering a TKO victory with a big right at the end of the first round. His next test will be Bakhodir Jalolov Edgar Munoz, who was in equally impressive form as he halted Venezuelan Edgar Munoz in the second.
The Super Heavyweight competition was already living up to its billing when Nigeria’s Efe Ajagba delivered a spectacular first-round knockout against Cape Verde’s Paul Nigel to send the crowd wild. Ajagba will meet Kazakhstan’s London 2012 bronze medalist Ivan Dychko on Tuesday for a place in the final after his TKO win against the Azeri Mahammadrasul Majidov.