Evans comes out on top in thriller
The seventh day of competition at the London 2012 Olympic Games saw the second round of preliminaries in the Men’s Flyweight (52kg) and Welterweight (69kg) categories. The packed ExCeL arena once again reserved a huge reception for all the boxers during the afternoon session.
Top seed Misha Aloian, the reigning World and European Champion, made his bow in the competition as he faced tough Algerian Samir Brahimi in the first Flyweight (52kg) contest. Looking to connect first with the body shots then with those hard one-two combinations, Aloian was keen to impose himself on his opponent from the off. Brahimi was proving a difficult rival to breakdown, constantly moving, very elusive, doing everything he could to unsettle the Russian, even a spot of showboating. Aloian’s superior technique though ensured he went through to the quarter-finals after winning each round to progress with an impressive 14:9 victory.
"I am very happy with the victory, it was tough, but now I am fighting for a medal. I know it will be extremely difficult against the Russian but I am going to give it my all", stated the young Puerto Rican after his success.
In the final Flyweight (52kg) contest of the afternoon session, 2008 Olympic Games bronze medallist Vincenzo Picardi from Italy began brightly against the dangerous Mongol Tugstsogt Nyambayar, throwing a lot of punches to his rival’s body in the opening exchanges to claim the round. However after getting caught by a thunderous right hook, the Italian quickly changed tactic to adopt a more restraint approach in the second. Nyambayar had clearly rattled his opponent and turned the fight on its head as he began to exert his authority and dominate to take that round. The crowd were really enjoying this one with both neck and neck going into the third. It was a battle of wits in the final round, with lots of punches being traded in the centre of the ring. The Mongol seemed to have the better stamina as he raised the tempo and the Italian struggled to get to grips with him. In the end Nyambayar took control to book a quarter-final showdown with Latipov after edging it 17:16.
Moldova’s University World Champion Vasilii Belous faced the hardest challenge of his career to date when he faced the supreme Ukrainian Taras Shelestyuk in the first of the four Welterweight (69kg) bouts of the session. The tall southpaw tried to use his jab but AIBA World Champion Shelestyuk was just too good, gliding across the canvas and planting every shot right on its target. Belous competed throughout but the class of the Ukrainian shone through as he confirmed his status as one of the gold medal favourites with a comprehensive 15:7 victory.
Shelestyuk declared after the win, "There are never any easy battles. I had to work hard and do my job. It is not easy because there are a lot of champions in the draw".
The flamboyant Alexis Vastine and Tuvshinbat Byamba from Mongolia were involved in a riveting contest with the tall 25-year-old Frenchman looking to use his reach against his fearless and plucky opponent in the early stages. The points however were shared after a tactical first round. In the second, Vastine’s aggression paid off as he landed several good hooks and as his confidence grew, the swagger and the showboating began. For once however, he kept on looking for that opening and as a result scored heavily to take a three point advantage into the final round. Byamba battled hard in the latter stages to make up his deficit but European Championships silver medallist Vastine held on to record a hard-fought 13:12 win.
It was evenly matched between Australia’s Cameron Hammond and Custio Clayton of Canada in the penultimate bout of the afternoon session. Both orthodox fighters had impressed in the first round of preliminaries. Clayton was conceding height and reach so kept trying to move inside and land that big overhead but Hammond was resilient, repelling those attacks with his stiff jab. After both the first two rounds were shared on points, there was all to fight for in the third. Clayton began to show his power by throwing several punishing hooks and the Canadian will have been delighted with that final round performance which saw him prevail 14:11.
The day’s evening session will have another eight bouts with the remaining Flyweights (52kg) and Welterweights (69kg) seeking to book their places for the competition’s quarter-finals.
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