- Yosbany Veitia (Cuba) def. Sulemanu Tetteh (Ghana), 5:0: This is the third Olympics for the 29-year-old Veitia, who lost in the round of 16 in 2012 and quarterfinals in 2016. So he’s still hunting his first Olympic medal. This was just clear different levels, though, with Veitia dominating with relative ease, Tetteh had very few moments, but mostly couldn’t find Veitia and got peppered with little shots. Veitia has not been an “elite Cuban” in his prior Olympics, if you know what I mean, but a very good fighter all the same, and there’s a chance he’s gone up a level at this point, too.
- Galal Yafai (Great Britain) def. Patrick Chinyemba (Zambia), 3:2: In two fights in Tokyo, we’ve seen a version of Galal Yafai who could be hell for anyone in this class and beat them, and a version — the one here — that is going to likely have a very tough time in the quarters with the Cuban, Veitia. I do think he won this fight, in part because I think the Argentine judge who had this 29-28 for Chinyemba was out of their gourd giving Chinyemba the second round, which had moments for both but also featured a standing eight against the Zambian. But Chinyemba proved awkward and capable, and neither of these guys went to center ring for the decision with much confidence. Yafai was clearly frustrated post-fight, too. He’ll need to put it behind him, and fast — he faces Veitia on Tuesday.
- Gabriel Escobar (Spain) def. Daniel Asenov (Bulgaria), 4:1: Competitive fight, but the judges liked Escobar’s work better. He won 4-1 in each of the first two rounds, and was up 20-18 on three cards after two, so it was basically over there barring something huge for Asenov. But Asenov couldn’t produce anything huge enough in the third to reverse his fortunes. This was hard-fought and Asenov gave it what he had in every round, and even won four of five cards in the third, but Escobar a little too slippery, a little too often.
- Saken Bibossinov (Kazakhstan) def. Billal Bennama (France), 5:0: Much closer than the unanimous result might make you think. I gave Bibossinov the first and third, Bennama the second, but the two-seed from France goes home, one-and-done in Tokyo. Very good fight, nice offense on display from both, and Bennama was heartbroken with the loss, thinking he’d done enough.
- Andy Cruz (Cuba) def. Luke McCormack (Great Britain), 5:0: Just levels here. McCormack, twin brother of welterweight Pat, did not fight poorly, he was probably about as good as he could be, even. But Cruz was just fantastic. This was his Olympic debut, and he’s won gold at the 2017 and 2019 Worlds, and you can see the talent immediately. Didn’t show as much of the “swagger-y” style as some of the Cubans do — some for better, some to their detriment. More basic, in a way, but extremely good at basic, pumped a nasty jab and kept control the entire nine minutes.
- Wanderson de Oliveira (Brazil) def. Dzmitry Asanau (Belarus), 3:2: I thought de Oliveira pretty clearly won this, despite the best efforts of Asanau, a quality boxer. The quality work was almost all from de Oliveira; judges nicking rounds to Asanau here were, I think, in a sense scoring how it used to be, pre-2016, where if you landed the most punches (as questionably scored, anyway), you won! But that’s not how it’s supposed to be anymore. But all in all I think the officiating has been notably better in Tokyo, for what it’s worth, and I think the judges wound up at the right winner here anyway.
- Zakir Safiullin (Kazakhstan) def. Daisuke Narimatsu (Japan), WO: A “walkover” win for Safiullin, due to injury, with Narimatsu withdrawing from the competition after his round of 16 win.
- Harry Garside (Australia) def. Jonas Jonas (Namibia), 5:0: Think the judges were pretty hard on Jonas Jonas here, but Garside boxed confidently throughout, and honestly, judges are human beings, susceptible to weird biases that they don’t even think about, and boxing with a confident body language can absolutely tip judges in rounds they might be close on. Garside swept three cards and won the other two on 29-28 scores. I really think Jonas did better than that indicates. I don’t know if I’d go “robbery,” but I just didn’t really agree with what they saw, particularly in the third. But I don’t count.
Women’s middleweight (Quarterfinals)
Winners guaranteed at least a bronze medal.
- Zenfira Magomedalieva (Russian Olympic Committee) def. Rady Gramane (Mozambique), 4:1: I’m not personally big on the idea of “weight bully,” I mean, if you can make the weight, you can make the weight. There are enough people who don’t make weight for me to be concerned about those who do. But Magomedalieva is awful to watch. I mean, let’s just say it like it is. She’s a former heavyweight who moved down to light heavyweight and is now at middleweight because the Olympics only go up to middleweight for women. She’s huge compared to the others in this division. Gramane just couldn’t do much with her because Magomedalieva is so “coldly effective” — as Nick Halling put it — which basically just means leaning on opponents and sapping them of energy, then landing single shots, and they’re heavy shots when they get in clean. Again, I get that it works, and hey, she’s making the weight. Fine. But it still isn’t any good to watch.
- Qian Li (China) def. Pooja Rani (India), 5:0: Li is simply very good, she took the fight out of Rani pretty quickly and then just kept taking it. The Indian coach was great after the second round trying to motivate Rani, but she just couldn’t find anything with Li, whose skill set is going to make her against Magomedalieva interesting.
Women’s featherweight (Semifinal)
- Sena Irie (Japan) def. Karris Artingstall (Great Britain), 3:2: I would have just edged this to Artingstall, but the 20-year-old Tokyo native moves on to fight for gold against Nesthy Petecio of the Philippines. And I really mean this was extremely close. Irie took the first for sure, Artingstall took the second for sure (one judge scored it for Irie), and then Irie just edged enough in the third round to take it. She got the minimum of what she needed in that round, and it’s tough for Artingstall, but an absolute dream for Irie, too. It’s been a great run for her.