London, Great Britain, 31 July 2012 – The action continued with the evening session on the third day of boxing at the London 2012 Olympic Games. A capacity crowd at the ExCeL Arena welcomed the Flyweight (52kg) and Light Heavyweights (81kg) for ten bouts of high-octane drama.
2011 World Series of Boxing (WSB) Individual Championships finalist with Paris United, 25-year-old Nordine Oubaali of France began his assault on the Flyweight (52kg) title in style. The experienced recent AIBA European Olympic Qualifying Event winner came out of the blocks at double speed, firing all kind of shots in direction of the relatively unknown Ajmal Faisal of Afghanistan. Pummelling his rival throughout the three rounds, Oubaali was just unstoppable as he outclassed the three-time Afghan National Champion to win 22:9. The Frenchman faces USA Boxing Team Captain Raushee Warren, the third seed in the draw and a veteran of three Olympic Games.
When interviewed, Oubaali stated, “I had a fantastic preparation for these Games but unfortunately fell ill as soon as I landed here in London. As a result, I felt seriously weakened. I am happy that I managed to overcome this and box well against an opponent that I did not know”. On facing Warren next, the Frenchman declared, “I know him well; he is a very talented fighter, very quick. He has never been a World Champion or an Olympic Champion so he is not unbeatable. I have the same chances of winning than he has. It will obviously be tough and if I recover from my illness in time, I can assure you that our battle will be an even one”.
The diminutive Ghanaian Duke Micah and Jason Lavigilante of Mauritius, who were both at the AIBA Road to London II three-week training camp in the build-up to these Olympics, battled each other for the right to face the big Irish medal contender Michael Conlan in the next phase of the preliminaries. It was the orthodox Micah who looked the most assured, alternating cleverly between the head and the body with some swift one-two combinations to claim the first two rounds against his taller rival. In the third, the Ghanaian began to showboat but still the 20-year-old dominated the round to record a 18:14 victory and progress.
Micah was happy with his performance, declaring, “I felt good out there. Our President died last week so I am fighting for my country and for boxing in Ghana”. On facing Conlan, he said, “I don’t know him, I was only focused on the first bout but now I will study his fights. I know I have to raise my level so that is what I will do, you will see a stronger me in the next fight”. When asked about his preparations for the Games, he added, “Road to London in Cardiff was a great experience for me and it is one of the reasons I won today”.
A veteran of three AIBA World Boxing Championships, Thailand’s 27-year-old Chatchai Butdee came into his fight against Eker Selcuk of Turkey as the overwhelming favourite. The Thai southpaw’s speed and agility were just too much for the young Selcuk who could just not deal with the ferocity of his attacks. Selcuk, 20, who fought for the Istanbul Bosphorus WSB Franchise last season, had no response to the repertoire of shots being thrown at him, uppercuts, up to four punch combinations, it was a master class by the Thai who went on to triumph emphatically 24:10. No one will want to face Butdee after that sensational performance.
Cuba have one of the finest production lines of top class boxers in the world and their history speaks for itself, standing second only to the USA for boxing gold medals at the Olympic Games. 18-year-old Panamerican Games winner southpaw Robeisy Ramirez Carrazana showed his pedigree against the experienced Japanese Katsuaki Susa. Quick, agile, excellent footwork and precision punching, the southpaw really has it all. Ramirez Carrazana absolutely dictated proceeding in all three rounds against Kusa and eased to a comprehensive 19:7 win. Everyone will now be relishing the prospect of seeing the Cuban in action against Thailand’s Butdee.
The crowd next enjoyed the confrontation between the tall Swede Salomo Ntuve and Kazakhstan’s orthodox 21-year-old pocket-dynamo Ilyas Suleimenov in the last of the evening’s Flyweight (52kg) bouts. With vociferous support in the arena, the Kazak started on the front foot, speedily moving inside to work Ntuve’s body. With such a contrast in the athletes, it was a messy affair that Suleimenov came out on top in, winning 13:8.
The rising star from Azerbaijan Vatan Huseynli has really made a name for himself this year, qualifying for these Games after coming second at the AIBA European Olympic Qualifying Event Trabzon 2012 and also testing himself in the tough WSB with the Baku Fires. In the first Light Heavyweight (81kg) bout of the evening session, he faced the experienced 2008 Beijing Olympian Carlos Gongora Mercado of Ecuador, who also competed in the first WSB season with the American Los Angeles Matadors Franchise. Gongora took the early initiative, moving around Huseynli and hurting him with some good hooks in the first before repeating that tactic in the second to lead by three points with three minutes to go. Huseynli came back in the third with a couple of devastating straight rights that connected flush on Gongora’s jaw, one of which the Ecuadorian southpaw had to take a standing eight count for. In the end, it was the 23-year-old Gongora who progressed with a 9:8 victory; he will now face Kazak fourth seed Adilbek Niyazymbetov.
27-year-old Jeysson Monroy Varela then made his entrance and faced the tough orthodox Iranian Ehsan Rouzbahani. The Colombian, a WSB first season competitor with the Mexico City Guerreros, controlled the opening exchanges with his jab and looked confident as he claimed the first round. Rouzbahani showed great heart as he turned aggressor in the second with a spirited display that saw him draw level on points at the end of the round. The 24-year-old Iranian was clearly in the ascendancy in the third and threw several good one-twos as a huge delegation of his compatriots cheered him on to a 12:10 victory.
Ukrainian dark horse Oleksandr Gvozdyk has already participated in two AIBA World Boxing Championships but is probably one of the lesser known boxers in his country’s Olympic squad. The tall 25-year-old has matured in the last year and after a quality season with Dynamo Moscow in the WSB, he could be the surprise package in the Light Heavyweight (81kg) category in London. As strong as an ox and with a good tactical brain, the orthodox fighter really impressed as he skilfully dispatched the stocky Belarusian Mikhail Daulhaliavets by winning all three rounds and record a convincing 18:10 win.
Bosko Draskovic from Montenegro began well in his bout with a solid round that saw him take an early three point advantage over Nicaragua’s Osmar Bravo Amador. The man who was part of the first season Milano Thunder WSB squad somehow lost the initiative as his Nicaraguan rival completely turned the fight on its head with a flurry of punches from all angles in the second to claw his way back into the contest. Orthodox Bravo Amador was revitalised after his display that round and went on the rampage, unloading some ferocious hits on his opponent who had to take a standing eight count after catching one right on the nose. The Nicaraguan will now prepare to face Gvozdyk after coming back to prevail 16:11.
The experience of Germany’s Enrico Kölling told against Christian Donfack Adjoufack of Cameroon in the last contest of the day as the orthodox unloaded several powerful right hooks to his opponent’s chin. It was pretty much one way traffic as the German former Youth World Boxing Championships silver medallist kept up the pressure and dictated the pace of proceedings. The gap in international tournament experienced clearly told as Kölling, a veteran of two WSB seasons, inflicted a 15:6 defeat on Donfack Adjoufack. The German 22-year-old must now challenge number two seed and Algerian sporting icon Abdelhafid Benchabla for a place in the quarter-finals.
The fourth day of competition at the London 2012 Olympic Games will see the Men’s Light Flyweights (46-49kg) and Light Welterweights (64kg) take to the ring in the first round of preliminaries.