The evening session of the seventh day of competition at the London 2012 Olympic Games saw the final eight bouts of second round of preliminaries for the Men’s Flyweight (52kg) and Welterweight (69kg) categories. The atmosphere was red-hot with eight adrenaline fueled contests lighting up the ExCeL arena.
USA Team captain and third seed Raushee Warren, now a three-time Olympian, got the Flyweight (52kg) action underway as he faced Nordine Oubaali from France. It was fast and furious straight from the off between the two electric southpaws. Trading punches throughout, these two talented boxers were not giving each other an inch. Two superb left hooks by the experienced Warren saw him edge the first round. Oubaali came back strong and went on the attack in the second. Although the American’s slick counter-punches were doing damage early on, the Frenchman’s jabs began penetrating his rival’s defences. His hook also connected several times and Oubaali clawed his way back to go into the final round with a slender point deficit. The French fighter was extremely positive and took the initiative from then on, putting Warren on the back foot all the way through an explosive final round. Oubaali was delighted as he triumphed 19:18 in a real classic.
“I knew Warren would be a hard fight, he is a three-time Olympian. He is a counter puncher so I had to go large with my shots in order for him to always be on the back foot. It was a great strategy by my coaches. We knew the first round would probably be lost, but that if I continually applied pressure I could unsettle him, and that is what happened”, beamed Oubaali after the fight.
Promising Irishman Michael Conlan, a bronze medallist at the AIBA World Boxing Championships Baku 2011, showed just why he is rated so highly, putting in a real polished performance against Duke Micah from Ghana. The 20-year-old orthodox fighter from Ireland let his jabs do the talking before swiftly moving to work the body and throw several stinging uppercuts. Micah was brave but could not cope with his opponent’s excellence. Conlan, seeded sixth, comfortably won each round on his way to a classy 19:8 victory to set up a quarter-final meeting with Oubaali.
Thai southpaw Chatchai Butdee began his contest with rising star Robeisy Ramirez Carrazana at breakneck speed, throwing lots of shots to try and dictate the tempo of the fight. This however was playing right into the hands of the expert counter-puncher from Cuba, who landed some great hooks in both the first and second rounds to score heavily. In the third, Ramirez Carrazana turned on the style and seemed to hit his target each time he let fly, with a couple of thunderous straight one-twos rocking the man from Thailand. It was a vintage performance by the Cuban who won 22:10 against a top opponent, sending out a real message of intent to the other pretenders in the draw.
The crowd went wild as the last two Flyweight (52kg) boxers made their big entrance. Representing Great Britain was Andrew Selby, one of the most technically gifted boxers across the ten weight categories, and in the opposite corner the savvy Kazak Ilyas Suleimonov. It was superb right from the start with some great movement and sensational footwork by both boxers making for a fight out of the very top drawer. Evenly matched in the first, Selby did enough to shade it by a point. In the second however, the Brit’s unrelenting style was beginning to overawe Suleimonov. The third and final round was simply outstanding as both fighters displayed a tremendous attitude and the crowd was treated to a real boxing spectacle. Ultimately it was the supremely talented Selby who took the victory 19:15. Seeded second, the ambidextrous British boxer, who switches stance at will, now faces the impressive Ramirez Carrazana for a place in the semi-finals.
After the bout, Selby told the media, “I had sparred with him before so I was prepared. The game plan was to catch him as he charged in. I think what made the difference was that I was just a little bit faster than him. I will need to improve but it is a good start”.
Krishan Vikas versus Errol Spence in the first Welterweight (69kg) contest of the evening went to appeal and the American was awarded the victory on review.
25-year-old Adam Nolan from Ireland started well against the tough Russian Andrey Zamkovoy, using good head movement to dodge his opponent’s swinging hooks before unleashing some solid one-two combinations. The Russian southpaw however caught his rival twice in quick succession to edge the first round in the closing stages. Nolan continued to be bright and positive with the right hook landing on his intended target but the compact Zamkovoy’s economical style was paying dividends as time and time again he breached the defences of the Irishman with some good combinations. The inexperience of Nolan told in the latter stages as the Russian now began to dominate and unload at will, the Irishman taking a standing eight count in the third. Zamkovoy is now looking like a dark horse in this draw after that resounding 18:9 victory, which sees him battle Vikas in the next stage of this enthralling competition.
South Africa’s Siphiwe Lusizi versus Gabriel Maestre Perez of Venezuela was a very interesting fight with both seemingly only concerned with going forward throughout the three rounds. It made for a spectacular show with each boxer taking turns throwing punches. Lusizi, a southpaw, edged the first round with his effective jabs, but in the second Maestre Perez was inspired, connecting with a high volume of his shots as his South African opponent seemed to forget about the defensive side of the noble art. The Venezuelan applied the pressure in the third to close out the contest and win 18:13.
Welterweight (69kg) second seed from Kazakhstan Serik Sapiyev faced Japanese southpaw Yasuhiro Suzuki in the last bout of the day. The experienced AIBA World Championships silver medallist Sapiyev showed his class and made his experience count with some clever movement and some expert selection of punches to dominate the first two rounds with real panache. The 24-year-old from Japan was devoid of ideas against the superiority of Sapiyev and the Kazak confirmed his status as one of the favourites with this resounding 25:11 victory. He now will battle Maestre Perez with a semi-final position at stake.
Tomorrow sees the Light Flyweights (46-49kg), Light Welterweights (64kg) and Light Heavyweights (81kg) take to the ring, with 24 bouts over two sessions.