Stalker battles hard for victory
The evening session of the eighth day of competition at the London 2012 Olympic Games saw the last of the second round preliminaries for the Light Flyweight (46-49kg), Light Welterweight (64kg) and Light Heavyweight (81kg) categories take place once again at a packed ExCeL Arena.
The first Light Flyweight (46-49kg) bout between Russian third seed David Ayrapetyan and the talented Jantony Ortiz Marcano of Puerto Rico proved a fantastic contest, with both evenly matched in the first round. 18-year-old southpaw Ortiz Marcano was making his height advantage count in the early exchanges with the 2008 Beijing Olympian Russian Team Captain having to really search for those clean shots. In the second, Ayrapetyan found his target several times, once with an overhead and once with a crisp left uppercut to go into the final round with a two point advantage. It was a thrilling finale with each boxer peppering the other with a huge number of shots, but it was the 28-year-old AIBA World Boxing Championships bronze medallist from Russia who did enough to secure his passage to the quarter-finals with a 15:13 victory.
Ramy Elawady from Egypt began on the front foot against Turkish 23-year-old Ferhat Pehlivan, alternating with work to the body and the head, but it was unfortunately wild and his opponent was covering well and patiently waiting for the opportunity to strike. Pehlivan’s tactic was spot on as time and again he let fly just at the right moment and scored heavily. Elawady was erratic and naive as he continually went forward and left himself exposed to the expert counter-punching skills of his Turkish opponent, who in the end comfortably won 20:6. Pehlivan will now battle Ayrapetyan for a place in the semis.
With some colourful Thai fans in the crowd cheering him on, the experienced Kaeo Pongprayoon faced 22-year-old Carlos Quipo Pilataxi in the third Light Flyweight (46-49kg) bout of the session. There was a lot of respect between these two orthodox fighters and not much to separate them. The work rate could not be faulted but overall it was the precision of the 32-year-old Pongprayoon which made the difference as he prevailed 10:6 after winning each of the three rounds.
In the last of the Light Flyweight (46-49kg) contests, 23-year-old second seed Jonghun Shin of South Korea made his long awaited debut in the competition and faced the intelligent operator Aleksandar Aleksandrov of Bulgaria. The speed of Shin told in the first two rounds as he landed several good hooks to take a two point advantage into the last round. It seemed however that the 27-year-old Aleksandrov had other ideas as he went on the rampage to completely unsettle the favourite in the third, turning the fight on its head to take the final round and with it the bout 15:14, in a huge upset.
Third Light Welterweight (64kg) seed and Great Britain’s Team Captain Thomas Stalker began his campaign for an Olympic medal against 25-year-old Manoj Kumar from India in barnstorming fashion, using that big frame of his to throw some powerful shots. The Brit defended well too, moving comfortably around the punches being aimed at him before throwing some penetrating one-twos and some stinging hooks to take the first two rounds. The Indian orthodox fighter came back in the final round with a domineering performance but unfortunately he could not claw back his deficit and was ultimately defeated 20:16 by the 28-year-old from Liverpool.
Representing the tiny Island of Mauritius in the Pacific Ocean, 25-year-old Louis Richarno Colin was brave and positive against the vastly experienced triple Olympian Munkh-Erdene Uranchimeg but the Mongolian southpaw boxed clever throughout the three rounds. Colin showed great heart and a willingness to go forward but each time he tried to connect with one of his punches, Uranchimeg expertly countered, with the left straight often the weapon of choice. The 30-year-old expertly winning 15:12 to set-up a quarter-final encounter with Stalker.
Australia’s Jeffrey Horn had a real spring in his step as he battled Abderrazak Jouya of Tunisia, working the body well before throwing some hard rights. From very early on, the young orthodox Australian imposed his style on the 25-year-old to dominate all three rounds with a clever game plan, which consisted of jabbing then throwing the hook before swiftly moving out of the way. Horn’s good footwork allowed him to gain the upper hand in each round to record a solid 17:11 victory.
Sporting a less than flattering haircut, Ukrainian second seed Denys Berinchyk made his entrance under the watchful gaze of the rest of his team to face tough southpaw Anthony Yigit. The Swede was really going for it, connecting with a huge right hook in the first to ensure parity at the first break. A brutal second round saw the two boxers going toe-to-toe, throwing some punishing hooks at each other in a real slug fest. It was not for the boxing purist, with no tactics involved, it just a good old fashioned brawl. That round ended up as the highest scoring one of the tournament so far at 13:9 and went to the Ukrainian. The third was almost an exact replica of the second, with the two boxers trading a high volume of punches, with the spectators up on their feet. The Swede won the last round but could not make up his earlier deficit. Berinchyk was the victorious party in an absolute epic battle that ended 24:23.
In the first of four Light Heavyweight (81kg) contests, Adilbek Nyazymbetov locked horns with Ecuadorian southpaw Carlos Gongora Mercado. In the opening round, the Kazak was completely dominant with that stinging jab of his scoring vital points. The 23-year-old orthodox Nyazymbetov’s power was just too much for the 2008 Beijing Olympian from Ecuador, who seemed to just not want it as he walked onto a couple of hard rights. In the end, it was a formality, as Nyazymbetov moved into the next phase of the competition with a 13:5 win.
In was an intriguing showdown between tough Iranian Ehsan Rouzbahani and 26-year-old Bahram Muzaffer of Turkey, with both forward-thinking boxers. The action did not disappoint as several hard blows were thrown, with a sweet right hook giving 24-year-old Rouzbahani the edge in the first. European Championships bronze medallist Muzaffer came back in the second with a couple of good uppercuts to claw back his point deficit. Rouzbahani dominated a thunderous final round which saw the Iranian Light Heavyweight (81kg) corner his opponent before unleashing a flurry of punches as he took a hugely emotional 18:12 victory.
One of the lesser known boxers in the Ukrainian team, Oleksandr Gvozdyk, put in a performance full of skill and technique against Nicaragua’s Osmar Bravo Amador. The jabs then the quick one-twos are fast becoming his trademark and with a fantastic reach, he has all the attributes to go deep in the competition. 27-year-old Bravo Amador will testify to this after coming out of their contest bruised and battered. Gvozdyk was a class above his opponent as he won 18:6 in imperious fashion.
Algerian superstar Abdelhafid Benchabla, who qualified for these Olympic Games by winning the 2011 World Series of Boxing Individual Championships, faced 2008 AIBA World Youth Championships silver medallist Enrico KŲlling in the final bout of the day. Seeded second, the 25-year-old Benchabla’s speed and movement were causing his rival problems in the first round, mixing his shots, throwing four-five punch combinations, it was a good start by the orthodox Algerian. The German was struggling to cope with the variation of punches that were being thrown at him; he defended well and threw some good punches of his own but in the end Benchabla ensured his presence in the quarter-finals with a well taken 12:9 win. The Algerian now meets the classy Gvozdyk, in what promises to be quite an encounter.
Tomorrow sees the long awaited debut of women’s boxing at the Olympic Games in a watershed moment for the sport. Three weight categories will take to the ring with the Flyweight (51kg), Lightweight (60kg) and Middleweight (75kg) categories, as history is made at the ExCeL arena. There will also be the Men’s Bantam (56kg) and Heavyweight (91kg) quarter-finals to enjoy.
Boxers by Weight Category
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