London, Great Britain, 07 August 2012 – The evening session of day ten of competition at the London 2012 Olympic Games was a special one with the winners of the quarter-final bouts in the Lightweight (60kg), Middleweight (75kg) and Super Heavyweight (91+kg) categories all assured of medals. The ExCeL arena was absolutely buzzing all night for this one.
Anthony Joshua of Great Britain.
The Lightweights (60kg) were in action first, with top seed and reigning AIBA World Champion Vasyl Lomachenko facing Puerto Rico’s Felix Verdejo Sanchez. The 24-year-old Ukrainian southpaw began by hounding down his opponent, patiently waiting for the opening, then when the opportunity struck, threw good body shots and let fly with some good uppercuts to take the first round by two points. In the second, Lomachenko was met by some stiff resistance from the 19-year-old Puerto Rican as he tried to take more of an initiative. The Ukrainian, who won the Val Barker Trophy at the 2008 Olympic Games, an award given to the best boxer across all weight categories, did enough in the final round to prevail 14:9 and move into the semi-finals.
It was the silver versus the bronze medallist of the last AIBA World Boxing Championships in the second contest of the session with Cuba’s Yasnier Toledo Lopez against Gani Zhailauov of Kazakhstan. The 22-year-old Cuban southpaw’s slick counter-punching made the difference in the first as he landed a couple of great shots. Toledo Lopez was boxing with a swagger in the second, displaying great footwork and speed as he again connected with some precise hits. Fighting with his hands down, it was a risky strategy from the Cuban, but the orthodox Zhailauov just could not cope with the volume of punches that were being thrown at him. The clinical and elusive Toledo Lopez was a class above his rival as he clinched a stylish 19:11 win to set-up a meeting with old foe Lomachenko.
Toledo Lopez said afterwards, “This win is really significant for me. I feel so proud. It is big not only for myself, but for my country and my family”.
It was a real clash of styles between the eccentric Italian Domenico Valentino and stocky Evaldas Petrauskas in the third Lightweight (60kg) quarter-final. 2009 AIBA World Champion Valentino struggled to deal with his opponent in the early exchanges with Petrauskas right up in his face and landing a couple of thunderous hooks and a great hit to the body. The Lithuanian took the high-scoring round by a point. Petrauskas kept on moving inside in the second, weaving his way into the experienced 28-year-old Italian, before throwing those big hooks, and once again he took the round. Valentino tried to counter in the third by keeping his rival at arms’ length but the 20-year-old Youth Olympic Champion from Lithuania held on to take a 16:14 victory. There was sheer delight on Petrauskas’ face as he was declared the winner.
The Lithuanian beamed in the press area, declaring, “I am very happy to win a bronze but I think I can do better and I am aiming for the gold now. I was fighting against a former World Champion so I am very proud. Since I started boxing at seven this has been my dream and I am pretty sure the whole of Lithuania is cheering for me”.
South Korea’s Soonchul Han, who had defied the odds to defeat the second seed in the previous round, continued to impress in this tournament as he met Fazliddin Gaibnazarov of Uzbekistan in the last of the Lightweight (60kg) semi-finals. The tall and rangy Han asserted his dominance from early on, using the jab to keep his distance before striking with the straight one-twos as he claimed the first two rounds in style. Gaibnazarov tried to claw back his deficit but the South Korean held on the win 16:13.
There was a huge cheer from the crowd as Anthony Ogogo made his way into the ring to face Germany’s Stefan Härtel in the first of the Middleweight (75kg) quarter-finals. The 23-year-old orthodox boxer from Great Britain began positively, using the jab before working the body as he took the first round by three points. Ogogo’s speed was now causing the German a lot of problems, as the Brit danced around him and connected with some good straights and hooks. The 24-year-old Härtel had to rally in the final round but every time he went for the shot, he was getting countered by a boxer clearly relishing the occasion in front of a capacity partisan crowd. Ogogo looked in fine form as he took all three rounds and a convincing 15:10 overall victory to move into the last four.
“No one dreams of becoming a bronze medallist. Everyone dreams of gold and I am no different”, stated Ogogo after the fight.
AIBA World Boxing Championships bronze medallist Esquiva Falcao Florentino of Brazil made his experience count against Hungarian teenager Zoltan Harcsa, making himself difficult to hit by constantly being on the move and pouncing with the hooks and a couple of sweet uppercuts to score heavily in the first two rounds. The Brazilian 22-year-old southpaw had to be at his best to repel the late charge from Harcsa in the third but held on to win. The young Hungarian was distraught as Falcao Florentino was victorious 14:10. It is Ogogo next for the Brazilian, with a place in the final at stake.
There was a huge reception for India’s Vijender as he came out to face 2009 AIBA World Champion Abbos Atoev from Uzbekistan. The 26-year-old orthodox Indian’s good counter-punching skills were coming in handy as the brawny Atoev tried to intimidate him early on, but he stood firm and the points were shared in the first. A big left by Vijender seemed to put him control but Atoev came back strong to claim the second. In the third and final round, the two fighters went toe-to-toe, but savvy operator Atoev began picking his opponent apart with a good selection of punches and the Uzbek took a 17:13 victory.
Japan’s Ryota Murata versus Adem Kilicci was a real cracker with the two orthodox fighters unwilling to let the other take the initiative in the last Middleweight (75kg) quarter-final. The Turkish 26-year-old’s crisp left hook ensured he edged the first but in the second the two fighters continued to be evenly matched and the points were shared. Ultra-competitive in the third, the two heavy-hitters were now going for it, but the breakthrough came from Murata, who threw a sweet right uppercut and a good strong left to stamp his authority on the round and take the bout 17:13.
Reigning AIBA World Champion Magomedrasul Medzhidov faced up-and-coming Russian Magomed Omarov in an intriguing battle in the first of four Super Heavyweight (91+kg) contests. The 22-year-old southpaw from Russia made his big and imposing frame count in the first two rounds, keeping his opponent at bay to lead by a point with the remaining round to go. The experienced Medzhidov had to dig deep but managed to make the break through and with a powerful uppercut rocked the taller Russian to gain the upper hand and earn a hard-fought 17:14 victory. There was a lot of respect between the two at the final bell.
Roberto Cammarelle of Italy, the Olympic title holder, then battled Mohammed Arjaoui in what was expected to be a mismatch, but the 25-year-old Moroccan was standing strong and giving an excellent account of himself without allowing his opponent to get into any rhythm as the points were shared in the first round. The 32-year-old Italian southpaw was really struggling and was fortunate to take the second with Arjaoui given a warning for excessive holding. Cammarelle, a two-time AIBA World Champion, looked a shadow of the confident fighter from the previous round and scraped through with a narrow 12.11 win.
Kazakhstan’s Ivan Dychko made his height advantage count in the first round against Simon Kean and a big right hand midway through already had the Canadian taking a standing eight count. The 202cm, 6ft7½in, tall Kazak just had too much for the inexperienced 23-year-old as he displayed superior technique and skills in every department on his way to a resounding 20:6 victory.
Great British hope Anthony Joshua was up against Zhilei Zhang in the last bout of the day and a good connecting right and a good left hook quickly set the tone, with Chinese 2008 Olympic Games silver medallist almost immediately on the back foot. The 22-year-old Brit was getting through with that powerful straight right to take the first by two points. A huge right then sent Zhang crashing to the canvas towards the end of the second and from there Joshua was high on confidence and closed out the fight 15:11 to advance to the semi-finals where he will meet the giant Dychko.
Tomorrow will have only one evening session with the Flyweight (52kg) and Welterweight (69kg) quarter-finals being decided.