Boxing is underway today in Rio, with some impressive performances this morning in the first session of the day.
Men’s bantamweight (56kg) - Round of 32
Sangmyeong Ham (South Korea) def. Victor Rodríguez (Venezuela)
- Scores: 28-29, 30-27, 30-27
I liked Ham in the first two rounds here, and then Rodríguez in the third, as he fought like he believed he needed something big, which he did, but it wasn’t enough. He gave all he had trying, though, so you can’t take that away from him.
Mohamed Hamout (Morocco) def. Mykola Butsenko (Ukraine)
- Scores: 29-27, 28-28, 30-26
Butsenko was docked a point in the second round, but would have lost this on split scores, anyway. Somewhat debatable; for instance, I thought Butsenko took the first, but two of three judges went against him. It was a competitive fight.
Robeisy Ramírez (Cuba) def. Shiva Thapa (India)
- Scores: 30-25, 30-27, 30-27
Thapa is a good fighter. Ramírez is a great fighter. At 18, he won the flyweight gold in London. At 22, he’s the favorite for the bantamweight gold in Rio, and you could see why watching this fight. He’s just a phenomenal technician, beautifully fluid. He owns the ring.
Men’s light welterweight (64kg) - Round of 32
Artur Biyarslanov (Canada) def. Obada Al-Kasbeh (Jordan)
- Scores: 29-28, 30-27, 29-28
Biyarslanov is the only male boxer representing Canada in Rio, so any medal hope they have on the men’s side is entirely on him. He was solid here, but now faces Germany’s Artem Harutyunyan in the round of 16. Harutyunyan received a first round bye.
Batuhan Gözgeç (Turkey) def. Mahaman Smaila (Cameroon)
- Scores: 30-27, 30-27, 30-27
I liked Smaila by a bit in the second round, but the judges got the winner right, as Gözgeç clearly won the first and third rounds, at the very least. He’s got a high workrate is a lot of fun to watch, so if you’re looking for action fighters, mark him down.
Joedson Teixeira (Brazil) def. Abdelkader Chadi (Algeria)
- Scores: 30-27, 29-28, 28-29
A close fight, competitive throughout. Chadi was the aggressor for the most part, but Teixeira did solid work in all three rounds. This was no home cooking or anything, Teixeira was just the better man for these nine minutes. Chadi, 29, is a three-time Olympian, and he’s lost in the opening round in both 2012 and 2016, after making the featherweight quarterfinals in 2008.
Men’s welterweight (69kg) - Round of 16
Mohammed Rabii (Morocco) def. Rayton Okwiri (Kenya)
- Scores: 29-28, 30-27, 29-28
Rabii, the top-ranked man in the division, got a good test from Kenya’s Okwiri, who upset Russia’s Andrey Zamkovoy in the round of 32 and came pretty close to an even bigger upset in this fight. The first two rounds, to me, were clear, Rabii in the opener, Okwiri in the second, and the third was close.
Steven Donnelly (Ireland) def. Tüvshinbat Byamba (Mongolia)
- Scores: 29-28, 28-29, 30-27
A big win for the Irish team, which came in on a run of three straight losses in Rio. And it was a close fight, too, but I thought Donnelly deserved the nod. And he looked good enough to be a real challenge for Rabii in the quarterfinals, too.
Shakhram Giyasov (Uzbekistan) def. Eimantas Stanionis (Lithuania)
- Scores: 29-29, 30-27, 30-28
More or less an outclassing, Giyasov looked very good in this fight, and was able to handle the style of Stanionis without much real trouble, which is not to say Stanionis wasn’t perfectly fine in this fight, because he was.
Roniel Iglesias (Cuba) def. Vladimir Margaryan (Armenia)
This was a stoppage due to a cut, which is a real shame for Margaryan, and also doesn’t exactly due much to get Iglesias in a rhythm for his quarterfinal match with Giyasov. Iglesias had a first round bye, and then got 87 seconds of work here.
Men’s light heavyweight (81kg) - Round of 16
Joshua Buatsi (Great Britain) def. Elshod Rasulov (Uzbekistan)
After the first round, I said that Buatsi was one to keep an eye on, a really impressive fighter. After this fight, there's no question about that. Buatsi dominated Rasulov, who had a first round bye, winning the first two rounds handily and then dropping and stopping the Uzbek fighter in the third round. You can't do much better than Buatsi did here, and now he's on to the quarterfinal.
Abdelhafid Benchabla (Algeria) def. Albert Ramirez (Venezuela)
- Scores: I don't know, I missed them
Ramirez had a fast start in this fight, winning two of three cards in the first round, and how he didn't win the third card, I have no idea, but Benchabla got himself back into the fight in the second, and won both of the final two rounds for me. Ramirez just didn't have the skills to beat Benchabla for three rounds.