The crowd raised the roof inside a packed Riocentro Pavilion 6 on Tuesday night as Robson Conceição and Sofiane Oumiha of France entered the arena for the Men’s Lightweight (60kg) Final, and the Brazilian responded with a flourishing start. Oumiha, too, found his range early on, but it was Conceição who shaded the first round, and then fended off a late surge in the second to establish a commanding lead. As the adrenaline flowed, the two boxers delivered a grandstand finish, but it was Conceição who’s hand was raised, prompting 9,000 fans to erupt in wild celebrations.
“I want to thank all the Brazilian people, all the fans who have spurred me on with their messages and thoughts. This isn’t just my medal, its for all of Brazil. Sofiane was a tough opponent, it was difficult out there tonight, and I want to congratulate him on helping to make it a brilliant final and I wish him a great future”, said an exhausted Conceição afterwards.
Earlier in a huge day of boxing, the Women’s Flyweight (51kg) Quarter-Finals and the last-sixteen of the Men’s Bantamweight (56kg), Light Welterweight (64kg) and Super Heavyweight (+91kg) competitions had all seen reigning World Champions in action, as had the Light Heavyweight (81kg) Semi-Finals.
Nicola Adams looked every bit the Olympic champion as she got her title defence up and running with a unanimous win over Ukrainian Tetyana Kob in the day’s first bout. China’s Ren Cancan then overcame Canada’s Mandy Bujold with an equally stylish win to set up a hotly anticipated Semi-Final with Adams on Thursday.
A current World Champion and former World silver medalist began proceedings in the last sixteen of the Men’s Bantamweight (56kg), with Ireland’s Michael Conlan and Russian Vladimir Nikitin going for a place in the semis and a guaranteed podium finish. With honours even after two rounds, the Russian edged the final three minutes and will now meet the USA’s exciting Shakur Stevenson for a place in the gold-medal match, after he defeated Mongolia’s Tsendbaatar Erdenebat by unanimous decision.
The first Semi-Final of the Men’s Welterweight (64kg) competition was then decided as Russian World Champion Vitaly Dunaytsev defeated Hu Qianxun of China setting up a last-four showdown with Fazliddin Gaibnazarov, winner of a split decision following a tremendous tussle with the USA’s Gary Russell.
Cuba’s Julio Cesar La Cruz worked his way into the Light Heavyweight (81kg) final with a typically assured display of counter-attacking prowess against the talented Mathieu Bauderlique. The Frenchman put up a stubborn resistance and landed some big punches throughout, but La Cruz’s movement was once again excellent and combined with his greater accuracy to win a place in Thursday’s Final.
The day’s fifth World Champion in action on Day Eleven, Tony Yoka towered over Jordan’s Hussein Iashaish as the two squared up for a place in the Super Heavyweight semis, and Iashaish struggled to get close enough to score as the powerful Yoka quickly found his range. A good spell from the Jordanian in the second gave the Frenchman some problems, but he bounced back to win a unanimous decision and a Semi-Final against Filip Hrgovic, after the Croatian powered to a TKO win over Cuba’s Leinier Pero, guaranteeing his country’s first-ever Olympic boxing medal.
Beginning the evening session, the Women’s Flyweight Quarter-Finals saw Thailand’s 2016 World Championship silver medalist Peamwilai Laopeam and Colombia’s Ingrit Valencia seeking a place in the last four. The Colombian was in inspired form as she dominated the bout, recording a unanimous win and setting up a Semi-Final against Sarah Ourahmoune of France after she controlled her match against fellow World Championship bronze medalist, Kazakhstan’s Zhaina Shekerbekova.
The last two Men’s Bantamweight Quarter-Finals followed, with China’s APB Champion Jiawei Zhang facing London 2012 Olympic Flyweight Champion Robeisy Ramirez for a guaranteed podium finish. The Cuban was flying from the first bell, delivering some devastating combinations as he gave Zhang no time to compose himself, and won all three rounds to go within touching distance of the final.
Ramirez will now meet Murodjon Akhmadaliev after the Uzbek delivered a fierce first-round left to Argentine Alberto Melian as he came back off the ropes that gave the referee no choice but to halt the bout.
In the first of the session’s two Men’s Light Welterweight (64kg) Quarter-Finals, Germany’s APB Champion Artem Harutyunyan began brightly against Batuhan Gozgec of Turkey, and after Gozgec received a warning in the second, the result looked beyond any doubt, Harutyunyan ensuring his country’s first Olympic Boxing podium finish since 2004.
Azerbaijan’s Lorenzo Sotomayor then faced Cuba’s World Series of Boxing Champion Yasnier Toledo for a place in the last four, and put in three composed rounds against the lively number-two seed to progress to Friday’s semis.
Kazakhstan’s former World Championship silver medalist Adilbek Niyazymbetov was put under early pressure by Britain’s Josh Buatsi in the day’s second Light Heavyweight (81kg) Semi-Final, but it was Niyazymbetov who kept his composure, finding a way through Buatsi’s defences to earn a shot at the gold against Cuba’s Julio Cesar La Cruz.
Uzbekistan’s Bakhodir Jalolov launched some big straight rights in the opening exchanges of his Super Heavyweight (+91kg) Quarter-Final against Britain’s Joe Joyce, but the Brit’s relentless attacking instinct paid off as he registered a unanimous win and a Semi-Final against Kazakhstan’s Ivan Dychko, unanimous winner over Nigerian Efe Ajagba.