RIO DE JANEIRO, 8 august 2016- The Men’s Lightweight (60kg), Welterweight (69kg) and Light Heavyweight (81kg) boxers took to the ring on Sunday morning to begin a second busy day with 20 bouts of Olympic boxing. Eighteen nationalities were represented across the morning’s ten contests, and it was Kenya’s Rayton Okwiri and the Ecuadorian Carlos Mina who got the crowd fired up in the opening session.
Dutchman Enrico Lacruz and opponent Chu-En Lai of Chinese Taipei 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.
After taking first place at the European Qualification Event in Turkey back in April, France’s Sofiane Oumiha arrived in Rio well-prepared to challenge the biggest names at Lightweight (60kg), and his Olympic campaign got off to a great start against the Honduran Teofimo Lopez Rivera in their evening-session opener. Oumiha evaded several waves of Rivera attacks and launched efficient counters of his own to earn a unanimous decision and a second-round tie with veteran lightweight Amnat Ruenrog, winner over Argentina’s Ignacio Perrin.
Ireland’s David Joyce is finally realising his Olympic dream at the third attempt, and will have been delighted to get off to a winning start against Seychelles’ Andrique Allisop. Despite some lightening-fast exchanges between the two fully focussed boxers, Joyce was able to win all three rounds and advance to what is set to be a tricky second-round match-up against Azeri Albert Selimov.
In the evening’s first Welterweight (69kg) bout, Spanish 24 year-old Youba Sissokho threw his all at Shakhram Giyasov, but the Uzbek was in masterful form as he bobbed and swayed himself past Sissokho’s long left arm and in to the second round. Armenia’s Vladimir Margaryan will also box again on 11 August after a comprehensive win over Fiji’s sole boxer at Rio 2016, Winston Hill.
Souleymane Cissokho halted Balazs Bacskai’s Olympic bid as the Frenchman found his way through the Hungarian’s defences early on and never looked like losing his advantage. Ardee Saylom then recorded Thailand’s second win of the session as he edged past the more attack-minded Belarusian Pavel Kastramin in a cagey but fascinating encounter that swung both ways before the judges’ awarded their split decision.
The second-round line-up of the men’s Light Heavyweight (81kg) category was then completed with three top-level bouts of boxing. First to go toe-to-toe were the well-matched and highly experienced Peter Mullenberg and Iran’s Ehsan Rouzbahani, with Netherlands’ Mullenberg narrowly winning thanks to a brilliantly composed performance. His next opponent will be Teymur Mammadov, the Azeri Flagbearer who had a 17cm height advantage over Ukrainian Denys Solenenko that he used to full effect, his opponent’s occasionally fierce attacks returned with interest as he won all three rounds.
The final bout of the day was another tight affair, as Italy’s Valentino Manfredonia and Belarusian Mikhail Dahaliavets battled their way through three gruelling rounds. Dahaliavets eventually took the split decision and will now meet Kazakhstan second-seed Adilbek Niyazymbetov on 11 August.