Thursday’s Olympic boxing action witnessed two more sessions of unmissable action across four weight categories; Bantamweight (56kg), Light Welterweight (64kg), Welterweight (68kg) and Light Heavyweight (81kg).
Of the 17 countries to emerge victorious, Morocco’s World Champion Mohammed Rabii got his Olympics off to a winning start, Britain’s Josh Buatsi secured an explosive win, and Kazakh Daniyar Yeleussinov looking in typically ruthless mood.
The Bantamweights (56kg) got the day under way, and Venezuela’s Victor Rodriguez and Sangmyeong Ham of Korea set the standard early on with a breathless display of boxing. Rodriguez found some success with his right, but it was Ham who landed the cleaner punches and will now meet Chinese third seed Jiawei Zhang on Sunday.
Morocco’s Mohamed Hamout also progressed after getting his Rio 2016 campaign off to a flying start against Ukrainian Mykola Butsenko, but he will now face Cuba’s London 2012 Lightweight gold medallist Robeisy Ramirez for a place in the last eight after Ramirez controlled his bout against India’s Shiva Thapa.
The Light Welterweight (64kg) competition continued with Canada’s Arthur Biyarslanov winning a unanimous decision over Obada Alkasbeh of Jordan, and Turkey’s Batuhan Gozgec delivering a comprehensive victory against Cameroon’s Mahaman Smaila. Gozgec will now meet Brazil’s Joedison Teixeira, who exchanged quick combinations with Algeria’s Abdelkader Chadi early on before seizing the initiative, responding to the roars of the crowd to post a hard-earned win.
Moroccan Welterweight World Champion Mohammed Rabii’s first taste of Rio 2016 action came against Kenya’s experienced Rayton Okwiri, a Day Two winner against Russia’s Andrei Zamkovoi. After a tense opening round, Okwiri grew to his task with a brilliant second three minutes, but it was Rabii who showed all of his class to win the third.
Ireland’s Steven Donnelly then held off a stiff challenge from Mongolia’s Byamba Tuvshinbat to advance from a draining battle and set up a match with the Moroccan on Saturday. Uzbekistan’s Shakhram Giyasov looked in commanding form during his win over Lithuanian Eimantas Stanionis, before Cuba’s second Olympic champion of the day, Roniel Iglesias, took to the ring. Iglesias may have moved up to Welterweight (69kg) since his London 2012 gold, but he looked just as effective as he delivered a second round TKO to reach the last eight.
World Championship silver medallist Elshod Rasulov kept out of danger against Britain’s Josh Buatsi in the first round, but Buatsi had him on the canvas in the second and again in the third, leaving the referee no option but to halt the fight and send the crowds wild. The Brit will now face Algeria’s Abdelhafid Benchabala after he edged his contest with Venezuelan Albert Ramirez.
The evening session began with the Bantamweights (56kg) Alberto Melian of Argentina and Ghana’s Abdul Omar chasing a place in the second round. It was a strong start from Melian as he immediately looked to go on the offensive, and despite Omar edging the final three minutes, the Argentine had already done enough to win the judges’ decision, setting up a tie against Tunisia’s Bilel Mhamdi, unanimous winner against Lesotho’s Inkululeko Suntele.
Kazakhstan’s Kairat Yeraliyev then delivered an assured performance against Azeri Javid Chalabiyev to complete the first round of the bantamweight competition. Yeraliyev repeatedly invited his opponent to attack before skilfully picking him off and, despite Chalabiyev finding more success in the third, the Kazakh registered the first of what would be three wins for his country in the session.
The second-round line-up for the Light Welterweight (64kg) competition was then completed as first Azeri Lorenzo Sotomayor comprehensively beat Ukraine’s Volodymyr Matviichuk before Hassan Amzile of France defeated Namibia’s Jonas Junias. Pat McCormack will meet Cuban second-seed Yasnier Toledo on Sunday evening for a place in the last eight after the Brit finished all three rounds strongly to earn a superb win over Kazakhstan’s former Youth and Junior World Champion Ablaikhan Zhusspov.
The final four names were then added to the Quarter-Finals of the Men’s Welterweight (69kg) line up and, with honours even after two rounds, France’s Souleymane Cissokho had enough left in the tank to deliver a strong last three minutes and edge out Azerbaijan third seed Parviz Baghrov.
Saylom Ardee sent the Thai boxing fans wild with a superb win over Bulgarian Simeon Chamov, before Venezuela’s Gabriel Maestre won by walkover against Italian Vincenzo Mangiacapre. He will now meet Kazakhstan’s former World Champion Daniyar Yeleussinov, after he counter-attacked brilliantly time and again to come through a tough encounter with Britain’s Josh Kelly.
Thursday’s action came to a close with the Light Heavyweights (81kg) and an engaging battle between Azerbaijan’s Teymur Mammadov and Netherlands’ Peter Mullenberg. The Azeri’s brighter start saw him through to the last eight after a tense finale, where he will face London 2012 silver medallist seed Adilbek Niyazymbetov of Kazakhstan, comfortable winner over the Belarusian Mikhail Dauhaliavets.