- Abdelhafid Benchabla (Algeria) def. Sanjar Tursunov (Uzbekistan), 4:1: Reminder that “heavyweight” in the amateurs is a 201 lb limit, the biggest boys are the super heavyweights. This is the fourth Olympics for Benchabla, who fought at Beijing 2008, London 2012, and Rio 2016 as a light heavyweight, and the run goes on at least one more fight, now at heavyweight. It seems unlikely he’ll finally medal — he was probably peaking in 2012, where he beat Enrico Kolling and then lost a controversial decision to Oleksandr Gvozdyk. He’s 34 now, and this certainly wasn’t easy, but his experience gets him past Tursunov, a 22-year-old prospect who is already 3-0 (1 KO) as a pro.
- Merven Clair (Mauritius) def. Wyatt Sanford (Canada), 5:0: Easy win here for Clair. Sanford was spirited, gave the effort, but Clair was better all the way. Sanford ended round one with a cut outside his left eye, too, tough trip to Tokyo, but he got to fight in the Olympics.
- Albert Mengue Ayissi (Cameroon) def. Thabiso Dlamini (Eswatini), RSC: Our first stoppage of the tournaments. Dlamini received standing counts in the first and third before the referee stopped it. Dlamini could have finished, but he was definitely getting outclassed, and the amateur game can have a much quicker hook than the pros. He just wasn’t in the fight anymore, and it never really was competitive.
- Aliaksandr Radzionau (Belarus) def. Necat Ekinci (Turkey), 3:2: Tough to score, really depends on what you like better. Ekinci has a style you might really just not like watching at all, but he was effective with it, and made this competitive. There really wasn’t much separating them, and they’ve fought close ones in competitions before, too.
- Ceiber David Avila (Colombia) def. Mohammad Alwadi (Jordan), 5:0: Two veterans, both in their 30s, Avila in his second Olympics and got a deserved, fairly comfortable win here, doing some very good work in the first two rounds in particular, then easing up a bit in the third. Alwadi never did give up on the fight, but the Jordanian was just second-best throughout.
- Jean Carlos Caicedo (Ecuador) def. Mykola Butsenko (Ukraine), 3:2: Solid fight here, both had an argument. Caicedo won the first unanimously, Butsenko won the second unanimously, and they split the third, with Caicedo just getting past the Ukrainian, maybe clinching it late with some nice shots.
- Duke Ragan (United States) def. Samuel Kistohurry (France), 3:2: Easily could have gone the other way. Untidy, ugly, scrappy fight for the most part. Ragan, a Top Rank prospect from Cincinnati who is 4-0 (1 KO) since turning pro 11 months ago, was the better skilled boxer, but Kistohurry made it physical and brought some heat to the American. The first round was Ragan’s clearly, I thought (though one judge did have it 3-0 for Kistohurry on his card), the second and third were toss-ups to me. Kistohurry definitely wasn’t afraid to get physical, tossing Ragan a couple times, but Ragan didn’t shy away from trapping Kistohurry’s arm and whatnot, either. Not a pretty fight.
- Serik Temirzhanov (Kazakhstan) def. Roland Galos (Hungary), 5:0: Dominant performance for Temirzhanov, who forced counts (not knockdowns, but counts) on Galos in the first and second rounds. Galos tried, but he had some issues with his shoes, too, just a rough, frustrating outing all over for him. Temirzhanov fought with the arrogance familiar from skilled Kazakh fighters, has some personality in the ring. He’ll face Ragan in the next round and that could be a terrific early matchup.
- Kurt Anthony Walker (Ireland) def. Jose Quiles Brotons (Spain), 5:0: Walker had the nicer footwork, smoother overall game, but Brotons definitely brought some pace, gave this a real good. He lost, though, and it’s an earned win for Walker, who did pick up a cut over the eye that could be a concern for him going forward.
- Baison Manikhon (Thailand) def. Saadat Dalgatova (Russian Olympic Committee), 4:1: Good fight, Dalgatova really made a go of it in the third, clearly winning that round, and one judge had also given her the second, which is where she won a single card. But Manikhon definitely won the first and giving Dalgatova the second is pretty dicey, too, it’s a deserved win for the Thai fighter.
- Karolina Koszewska (Poland) def. Shakhnoza Yusunova (Uzbekistan), 5:0: Clear win for Koszewska, a 39-year-old veteran who is also 12-1 as a pro, though she’s been back focused on the amateur game, last fighting as a pro in 2015. She’s very tall, about 6’1”, and could be a medal contender because she’s got solid, well-schooled form and works behind her jab.
- Nikolina Cacic (Croatia) def. Yarisel Ramirez (United States), 5:0: Scores were 29-28 on all five cards, with every judge scoring it exactly the same, because it was very easy to score. Cacic clearly won the first round, Ramirez definitely won the second round, and that made the third round a shootout. There was some good drama in that, but Cacic deserved the victory. Ramirez’s tank went a little empty down the stretch and Cacic just did the better, cleaner work.
- Nesthy Petecio (Philippines) def. Marcelat Sakobi (Democratic Republic of the Congo), 5:0: Petecio a clear winner here, no question about it. Sakobi gave this a good effort, but Petecio was the better boxer and won every round.