20 Feb - 15 Mar 2020
Tokyo 2020 Olympic Qualification Tournaments
Dakar, Amman, London, Buenos Aires, Paris
All the action on the Road to Tokyo 2020
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All times are UTC
Day 3 in the Dakar Arena and the action is starting to hot up today. Not only is it the first day with both afternoon and evening sessions (with a total of 21 bouts), but it will be our first sight of the big boys, with action in both the heavyweight and super-heavyweight divisions.
Indeed, one of the super-heavyweight bouts features a boxer with Olympic experience, Davilson Morais , of Cape Verde, who boxed in Rio de Janeiro four years ago where he lost to the eventual silver medallist, Joe Joyce.
There is action in four weight classes today, with Nick Okoth, the Kenya team captain and one of the most experienced boxers in the tournament, trying to gain qualification for the Olympics at the age of 36 (he will be 37 by the time Tokyo comes round) at featherweight. He won a Commonwealth Games gold medal a decade ago.
Another boxer with a decade of international experience behind him is Ghana's heavyweight David Akankolim. While Ahmed Mejri, of Tunisia, who boxes at welterweight, is aiming to attend his second Olympics, having been in London in 2012 at lightweight, where he lost to Felix Verdejo, the Puerto Rican who is now a world-ranked professional.
It gets underway at 2pm this afternoon, with the evening session beginning at 6pm (both UTC).
Alex Bwambale (Uganda): "I can do much better, I know even the trainers are not happy with my performance. But I'll fix my mistakes in the gym before my next fight. I'm tall, I should have used my reach a lot more instead of pushing forward a lot, because he was really strong."
Bwambale is actually from Sweden and only recently received his Ugandan passport.
He may have ended up the loser on the night, but 20-year-old Libyan Asim Salih Dawku was involved in the fight of the night with Nafital Goma, of Angola, and hopefully has a big future in front of him.
In the final bout of the night, at super-heavyweight, Anani Kutsuke, of Ghana, had to withstand a brave effort in the final round from Haruna Swanga Mhando, of Tanzania, before winning a clear points decision. Kutsuke had dominated the first two rounds, showing a decent jab.
Round 2 of Goma-Dawku below
Mesfin Biru Keralah (Ethiopia): "I'm here running for gold. Yes I know Ethiopia is known for running, but I have always been a boxer. I train with the runners in Sululta , the high altitude area, to build my endurance for the ring."
The many Ugandans in the crowd had reason to blow their vuvuzelas as heavyweight Alex Bwambale gets the nod from the judges after a close fight with Luvumbo Kiala Junior, of Angola.
The last bout of the night in Ring B, was the best, as Nafital Goma, of Angola, got off the floor to stop Asim Salih Dawku, of Libya, in the second round. Goma had been on top and forced a standing count, when Dawku came back to floor the Angolan. Both then ignored any pretence at defence as they slugged it out in the middle of the ring. Both were rocked before Dawku took another standing count and was stopped by the referee. The pair have a combined age of 41!
There was a first win of the tournament for Ethiopia as Mesfin Biru Keralah claims a unanimous points decision over the experience Brice Bassole, of Burundi, with a stylish display, at welterweight.
The Uganda squad going through a training session did not distract this man from having a nap on the ring apron backstage.
We told you Albert Mengue Ayissi was ready as the Cameroon welterweight land a massive right-hand bomb to drop Zine Elabidine Amroug, of Morocco, in the first round of their bout. Amroug fires back, though, and gets on top in the second round, landing a cracking uppercut up close. But Ayissi brings the power again in the third, as he shakes Amroug again in the third with a right, leading to a standing count to secure the win on points.
Thabiso Diamini, of Eswatini, is through as well, after a unanimous points decision against Madala Tounkara, of Mali.
On to the welterweights and Jessie Lartey, of Ghana, the team known as the Black Bombers, found Mohamed Aboubacar, of Comoros, far too easily and frequently with his straight southpaw left, running out a clear points winner.
Pedro Manuel Gomes, of Angola, wins the final featherweight bout of the day, with a routine unanimous points decision over Boniphace Kaji Malingwa, of Tanzania.
Franck Momboy, of Gambia, is out having suffered what seemed to be a twisted ankle in the third round, which meant he was unable to continue against the wonderfully named Tryagain Morning Ndevelo, of Namibia. As it was the third round, it went to the judges' scorecards, so Momboy actually goes through on points, despite the bout not going the distance.
Cameroon's welterweight Albert Mengue Ayissi ready for action
Nick Okoth (Kenya), a 2008 Olympian: "I'm backbig time in the ring and I mean business, serious business. I've been boxing for years because boxing means everything to me. I fight, earn, feed my family and educate my children from it. My being here as captain of the Kenyan team is also a source of inspiration to the young boxers. I know they are watching and expect a report from me, despite a strong third round, which the Cape Verdian came back hard and almost embarrassed me. So I'm going back to the camp with good news for the rest of the team. Onwards!"
Moroke Mokhotho gets the better of a high-class encounter with Bilel Mhamdi, setting a fast pace that the Tunisian struggled to deal with. As much as Mhamdi tried to pressure Mokhotho, the man from Lesotho was too slick and evasive for him. Nick Okoth, of Kenya, comfortably took the first two rounds against Wilson Semedo, of Cape Verde, and despite a big late effort, Okoth is through on points, with one judge going for Semedo.
We are back with the evening session. Ring A is starting with a clash of two 2016 Olympians - Moroke Mokhotho, of Lesotho, and Bilel Mhamdi, of Tunisia. Over in Ring B, Nick Okoth, of Kenya, boxes Wilson Semedo, of Cape Verde. Both bouts are at featherweight.
We are back with the evening session, from Dakar Arena, starting at 6pm (UTC). In the meantime, here is a piece with two of Algeria's best hopes, Mohamed Flissi and Abdelhafid Benchabla.
Maroy Sidiki (DR Congo): "This is why I am called the buffalo, I knock them out like the buffalo does with the head. The fans called my the Buffalo after I registered four consecutive KOs. I'm not here for jokes, I'm here for big wins, KOs and to qualify for Tokyo."
Stephen Zimba (Zambia): "It felt nice win as the fight went according to my game plan. If I continue fighting like this, I think I will make the final and qualify for Tokyo 2020, which will be the biggest thing in my life."
20 Feb - 15 Mar 2020
Tokyo 2020 Olympic Qualification Tournaments
Dakar, Amman, London, Buenos Aires, Paris
Freeman Mabvongwe (Zimbabwe): "It was a tough bout. But since I am here to qualify no bout is going to be easy. I have to give my very best. After training in Harare, I'm ready to go to the end."
Nathan Lunata Nkosi (DR Congo): "I felt good in the ring fighting and hearing people shout my name. That support from my team counted and I hit him harder. I will go even higher with the punches in my next bout."
The final bout of the afternoon session is a super-heavyweight clash between Uganda and Cameroon. And it's the man from Cameroon, Maxime Yegnong Njieyo, who is on top, with the faster hands and higher workrate. Solomon Geko Kozaala, the Ugandan, tries to turn the tide, but Njieyo ties him up and then lands a jolting right in the final minute of the bout that sees the Ugandan take a standing count. Njieyo wins a unanimous points decision.
Up to the super-heavyweights and a win for the Seychelles as Keddy Agnes proves too busy for Davilson Morais , of Cape Verde, who boxed at the Olympic in Rio de Janeiro four years ago. It was a bout short on highlights, but the shorter Agnes generally had the final answer to most exchanges to win it on all the judges' cards.
Over in Ring A, Ibrahima Barry, of Guinea, and David Akankolim, of Ghana, go to war in round 2 of their heavyweight bout. Barry has the best of things in the early stages, but Akankolim comes storming back in the second and then rocks Barry twice with left-right combinations in the third and ends the bout chasing after the man from Guinea. It's a split decision, 3-2, but it goes to Barry, a 27-year-old soldier, on his earlier work. All judges scored it 29-28, three for Barry, two for Akankolim. The Ghanaian will be frustrated.
The first heavyweight fight and it is over in less than a round as Maroy Sidiki, of the Democratic Republic of Congo - who was listed at 21, but is actually an experienced professional nicknamed "The Buffalo" - makes short work of Gambia's Sandy Sam Sanyang. A great left hook drops Sanyang after a minute and he never fully recovers, as he received two more standing counts to force the stoppage.
Next up is the No 3 seed Elly Ochola, of Kenya, on Tuesday.
Stephen Zimba, the welterweight, is another good boxer from Zambia and only 19. He came out against Snowden Munyanje, of Malawi, and landed a smashing left hook to the body, stamping his authority on the match. From then on, Zimba just looked like he was enjoying himself, landing another cleaver lead right and a corkscrew left hook later in the round.
After that, Munyanje was a bit more circumspect, while Zimba was confident enough to box with his hands down in the last round.
Over in Ring B, Zimbabwe's Freeman Mabvongwe used his size advantage well to run out a points winner over Nestor Nduwarugira, of Burundi. It took Nduwarugira until the last 30 seconds of the bout to land a decent shot, as Mabvongwe won every round on all five judges' scorecards.
Great movement and punch-picking by Mmuso Tswiige, of Botswana, who gave Gabon's Yannick Mitoumba Mbemy a tough afternoon. Tswiige, a smart-looking southpaw, was in and out of range as he liked, amassing the points for a clear unanimous decision win.
Ahmed Mejri's dream of a return to the Olympic Games received a serious dent as he was convincingly outboxed by Omar Elsayed Elawady, of Egypt. Mejri, a former African champion who boxed at the 2012 Games in London, spent most of his time chasing after Elawady, who was too quick and simply one step ahead. As Mejri pushed forward in the last, he was wobbled and received a stadning count, putting an exclamation point on the victory for the young Egyptian. Mejri must now hope to qualify for Tokyo via the final qualifying tournament in Paris.
Another impressive display from a boxer from the Democratic Republic of Congo as Nathan Lunata Nkosi comprehensively outboxes Zweli Dlamini, of Eswatini (the former Swaziland). Nkosi was on top for the first two rounds but put his foot on the gas in the third, punching Dlamini around the ring and forcing a standing count as he secured a unanimous points decision.
Disaster for Cameroon's Ignas Aristide Tchouta as a clash of heads ends his campaign to make the Olympics in a minute. Tchouta, 19, banged heads together with Musa Cham of Gambia and is left with a horrible cut on his left cheekbone and he is ruled out by the ringside doctor. No fault by either boxer, just one of those things. It counts as an RSC (I) - I for injury - as they put it in Olympic boxing. Terrible luck for Tchouta.
Fifteen minutes to the start of the action in Dakar and to get you in the mood, here is a short film of some of Vasyl Lomachenko's Olympic highlights
Bout 24 – Men’s Feather (52-57kg)
Nathan LUNATA NKOSI (Democratic Republic of the Congo) v Zweli DLAMINI (Eswatini)
Bout 25 – Men's Welter (63-69kg)
TSWIIGE MMUSI (Botswana) v Yannick MITOUMBA MBEMY (Gabon)
Bout 26 - Men's Welter (63-69kg)
MUNYANJE SNOWDEN (Malawi) v Stephen ZIMBA (Zambia)
Bout 27 - Men’s Heavy (81-91kg)
BARRY IBRAHIMA SORY (Guinea) v AKANKOLIM DAVID BAWAH (Ghana)
Bout 28 - Men’s Super Heavy (+91kg)
Solomon Geko KOZAALA (Uganda) v Maxime YEGNONG NJIEYO (Cameroon)
Bout 29 – Men’s Feather (52-57kg)
TCHOUTA MBIANDA IGNAS ARISTIDE RON (Cameroon) v Musa CHAM (Gambia)
Bout 30 - Men’s Welter (63-69kg)
ELSAYED RAGAB ELAWADY ELA OMAR (Egypt) v Ahmed Mejri (Tunisia)
Bout 31 - Men’s Welter (63-69kg)
Nestor NDUWARUGIRA (Burundi) v Freeman MABVONGWE (Zimbabwe)
Bout 32 – Men’s Heavy (81-91kg)
SADIKI MAROY MAROY (Republic Democratic of the Congo) v SANYANG SANDY SAM (Gambia)
Bout 33 – Men’s Super Heavy (+91kg)
AGNES KEDDY EVANS (Seychelles) v Dos Santos Morais*DAVILSON* (Cape Verde)
Bout 34 – Men’s Feather (52-57kg)
Moroke MOKHOTHO (Lesotho) v MHAMDI BILEL (Tunisia)
Bout 35 – Men’s Feather (52-57kg)
Mlingwa Boniphace KAJI (Tanzania) v Pedro Manuel GOMES (Angola)
Bout 36 - Men's Welter (63-69kg)
Mohamed ABOUBACAR (Comoros) v Jessie LARTEY (Ghana)
Bout 37 - Men's Welter (63-69kg)
Albert MENGUE AYISSI (Cameroon) v AMROUG ZINE ELABIDINE (Morocco)
Bout 38 - Men’s Heavy (81-91kg)
Luvumbo Kiala JUNIOR (Angola) v Alex BWAMBALE (Uganda)
Bout 39 - Men’s Super Heavy (+91kg)
KUTSUKE ANANI (Ghana) v Haruna Swanga MHANDO (Tanzania)
Bout 40 – Men’s Feather (52-57kg)
OKOTH NICHOLAS OKONGO (Kenya) v Wilson Carlo SEMEDO (Cape Verde)
Bout 41 – Men’s Feather (52-57kg)
Franck Stevie MOMBEY (Gabon) v Tryagain Morning NDEVELO (Namibia)
Bout 42 - Men's Welter (63-69kg)
TOUNKARA MADALA (Mali) v Thabiso DLAMINI (Eswatini)
Bout 43 - Men's Welter (63-69kg)
Mesfin BIRU KERALAH (Ethiopia) v BASSOLE BRICE ROMARIC (Burundi)
Bout 44 - Men's Welter (63-69kg)
DAWKU ASIM SALIH AMHIMMID (Libya) v Nafital Alfonso GOMA (Angola)
There are 33 places at the Tokyo Olympics available in Dakar – 22 for men and 11 for women.
Any boxer who reaches the final is guaranteed an Olympic place.
In addition, in six male weight categories (flyweight to light-heavyweight) as well as one female division (flyweight) there will be a third qualification spot available. This will be decided by a box-off between the two losing semi-finalists.
There will be one more chance to qualify for Tokyo 2020 at the final world qualifying event in Paris in May.