Thursday saw 20 semi-final contests across two gripping sessions at the APB/WSB Olympic Qualification Event in Vargas, with the winners at eight weights, from light flyweight (49kg) through to light heavyweight (81kg), earning an Olympic quota place for their country as well as a place in Friday’s finals. Of the 26 berths made available at the event, sixteen are now confirmed and shared among eleven countries, with Friday’s third place box-offs and the heavyweight (91kg) and super heavyweight (+91kg) finals deciding the remainder.
“I am over the moon that my dream has come true after ten years of hard work and seven years of boxing in international competitions. My first thought after my win was to my coach and my family, my big thanks to them all. Today I wanted to move fast and launch hard punches from the first seconds. We analyzed my opponent closely and I knew he would be tough, but I came through this vital bout,” said a delighted Hamza Touba after the contest.
Mexico Guerreros’ lightweight (60kg) Lindolfo Delgado came through a tough battle against fellow WSB boxer Yasin Yilmaz of Turkey, and will face pro boxer and fellow Olympic qualifier Amnat Ruenrong of Thailand, after he beat the experienced Italian pro Carmine Tommasone. Mexican APB boxer Juan Pablo Romero then narrowly defeated Spain’s Youba Ndiaye Sissokho to earn his welterweight (69kg) quota place and set up a final against Germany’s Arajik Marutjan, who claimed the second Olympic spot with a comfortable win over India’s Neeraj Goyat.
Colombian light heavyweight (81kg) Juan Carlos Carrillo beat Poland’s Mateusz Jerzy Tryc thanks in part to an electrifying opening round, and now meets Cameroon pro boxer Hassan Ndam Njikam, winner against Ukraine’s Denys Solonenko. The Venezuelan super heavyweight (+91kg) Edgar Ramon Munoz took a step closer to realising his Olympic dream as he reached the gold medal bout by defeating Brazilian WSB boxer Cosme Dos Santos. Munoz will face Ukraine’s Rostyslav Arkhypenko for the gold and the sole Olympic super heavyweight quota place on Friday.
The afternoon session saw Ecuador emerge with two quota places, as first their light flyweight (49kg) Carlos Eduardo Quipo controlled his bout against Argentina’s Leandro Blanc to set up a final against Mexico’s WSB star Joselito Velasquez, after he eliminated South Korea’s Jonghun Shin.
Kenyan APB boxer Benson Gicharu Njangiru’s sheer determination helped him overcome Venezuelan newcomer Victor Rodriguez and he will now face one of WSB’s top bantamweights Hector Luis Garcia, winner against Turkish APB boxer Ibrahim Gokcek.
Two of APB’s strongest light welterweights (64kg) met with a Rio 2016 place at stake, and it was Qatar’s Thulasi Tharumalingam who proved too hot for Argentine Carlos Aquino to handle, delivering one of his best performances of the year at just the right time. The 24-year-old Qatari will now be boxing for the gold against Armenia’s Hovhannes Bachkov, after he was too smart for Ukraine’s veteran WSB boxer Volodymyr Matviichuk in the second semi-final.
Ecuador’s APB middleweight (75kg) Marlo Delgado was in determined mood against Turkey’s Onder Sipal to deliver his country’s second Rio 2016 spot of the day, whilst in the second semi, Venezuela’s experienced Endry Saavedra continued his brilliant WSB form with a win over Germany’s bright APB prospect Xhek Paskali. Croatia’s Marko Calic then took a big stride towards Rio with a powerful performance against Venezuela’s Alfonso Jose Flores, setting up a crucial final against Ecuador’s Julio Cesar Castillo for gold and the sole heavyweight (91kg) Olympic quota place.