Women’s featherweight (Quarterfinals)
Winners guaranteed at least a bronze medal.
- Karris Artingstall (Great Britain) def. Skye Nicolson (Australia), 3:2: Utter heartbreak for Nicolson, and, man, this was so close. Just an extremely competitive fight in every round, all of them really could have gone either way. Nicolson in the third just needed either the Kazakh or Thai judge to see it her way, and neither did. Artingstall is very sound when she finds the range and gets her jab going, she’s been sharp in three fights. Nicolson made her miss more than in her prior bouts, and landed some good shots, working a good looping left hand to the body that was there for her the whole way. But this really was very hard to split. Nicolson’s story is a truly compelling and even though she comes up short of a medal, she can know for sure she was every bit good enough to win one, just didn’t break that way.
- Sena Irie (Japan) def. Maria Nechita (Romania), 3:2: The 20-year-old Irie wins her third fight, just as Artingstall did, and this one was close, too, but not quite the nail-biter, though Nechita made it a bit of one with a nice third round rally trailing on the cards. The first round was tight, but Irie had the edge, and then Irie swept the second round. She’s been very fun to watch and if we had spectators this would seem even better. (I know Japanese sports crowds have a reputation for being “quiet” or “polite” but they do have big reactions at big events, and anyway it wouldn’t be all Japanese fans, the Olympics being a destination for people all over the world and all. But we don’t, anyway, so whatever.)
- Zenfira Magomedalieva (Russian Olympic Committee) def. Naomi Graham (United States), 3:2: Magomedalieva is a veteran, a former heavyweight and light heavyweight (in that order), so she’s been coming down in weight to make the Olympics as a middleweight. She used her advantages and every trick she could find. I think she was just a little bit better, period, but even more than that she was more clever — “dirty” at times, yes, but not illegally so, so that’s what we call “clever.” Graham did well to tighten this up, especially in the third, because she lost all five of the first round cards.
- Rady Gramane (Mozambique) def. Erika Pachito (Ecuador), 4:1: Gramane dropped the first round but rallied after, winning four cards in the second and four in the third. It was dead level at 19-19 on every card after the second round, and Gramane’s work rate saw her through in the pivotal final round.
- Pooja Rani (India) def. Ichrak Chaib (Algeria), 5:0: This was very much about experience. Chaib really tried here, but she’s 20 years old and as of the last Olympics, she’d never boxed at all. So her getting here is pretty wild and speaks to her promise. But Rani is 30, a real veteran, won her first major medal at the Asian Championships back in 2012, and won gold at that competition in 2019 (as a light heavyweight) and 2021 (as a middleweight).
- Qian Li (China) def. Aoife O’Rourke (Ireland), : Li just a classier boxer, really, more experienced, smarter, knows her way around the ring better at this level. O’Rourke had a great engine, though, really brought some fight, but just didn’t find Li with enough shots.
- Lazaro Alvarez (Cuba) def. Daniyal Shahbakhsh (Iran), RSC - Injury: Shahbakhsh came in with a cut on his forehead from his round of 32 fight, and when it opened up again in the second round they stopped it. It really isn’t a bad cut, but this is the Olympics, not pro boxing. Alvarez is a very good fighter, but hasn’t gotten over the hump in the Olympics. He won bronze as a bantamweight in 2012 and bronze as a lightweight in 2016, now he’s trying to get to gold as a featherweight, the division in between those. Shahbakhsh was outclassed here, but he was not in awe of the Cuban at all, and he was giving this a go, but Alvarez was looking too good.
- Chatchai Butdee (Thailand) def. Mirco Cuello (Argentina), : Experience vs youth again in this one, and the experience wins out once more. Cuello has some promise, but Butdee is still a damn good amateur. His hope to medal this year — he came up short of that in 2012 and 2016 — has to go through Lazaro Alvarez, but I think that could be winnable, as good as Alvarez is. Butdee is no pushover for anyone.
- Tsendbaatar Erdenebat (Mongolia) def. Van Duong Nguyen (Vietnam), 5:0: Erdenebat also fought at Rio 2016 as a bantamweight, and too good here for Nguyen, who was spirited but just not on the same level. Erdenebat was a quarterfinalist in 2016, he’ll be at least a quarterfinalist in Tokyo.
- Albert Batyrgaziev (Russian Olympic Committee) def. Alexy de la Cruz (Dominican Republic), 5:0: Another one more competitive than the 5:0 would make you think. This was tense going to the cards, and honestly, I think the judging was weird. Like, I personally thought Batyrgaziev won the first two rounds. So did two of the five judges. But three judges gave the second to de la Cruz. And then I thought de la Cruz should have won the third, but none of the judges agreed, so Batyrgaziev got all five cards. But de la Cruz had his success. He was also dead gassed by the end, but it was from the effort he’d put in. Anyway, the No. 2 seed Batyrgaziev moves on to face Erdenebat, which is no easy fight at all.
Men’s light heavyweight
- Arlen Lopez (Cuba) def. Mohammed Houmri (Algeria), 5:0: Class proving out. Cuba’s Lopez won gold at Rio 2016 as a middleweight, now he’s going for the same at light heavyweight. He’s the No. 3 seed, but we’ve already seen the top seed and the four seed eliminated in the top half of the bracket, not that there aren’t quality fighters remaining up there.
- Rogelio Romero (Mexico) def. Luka Plantic (Croatia), 4:1: After watching the scientific craft of Cuba’s Lopez, it was nice to wake up some to as Romero and Plantic just went to war. Great fight here, plenty of big swings, plenty of good shots landing. Much more pro style than most fights. Plantic won all five cards in the first, Romero won all five cards in the second, and then Romero won four of five in the third to advance. Just all action here, good stuff from both. Romero will need all that action and probably some luck against Lopez, but it’s an intriguing style clash.
- Bayram Malkan (Turkey) def. Shakul Samed (Ghana), RSC: This got stopped in the second when Malkan dropped Samed on a right hand, a really good shot. Samed has two older brothers who fought at Beijing 2008, and he really went for this one, very aggressive, really wanted to bring a medal home. But once Malkan got the timing he was picking him off pretty well.
- Loreno Alfonso Dominguez (Azerbaijan) def. Dilshod Ruzmetov (Uzbekistan), 4:1: Dominguez is another Cuban expat who found his way to Azerbaijan, and after the first round being fairly close, he just styled on Ruzmetov for the last two, making him connect with little more than the air somewhere near Dominguez. It was a very good showing, and he has to be considered a real medal threat as the No. 2 seed after this kind of showing against a solid opponent.