The Light-heavyweights took to the stage at the London 2012 Olympic Games in London this afternoon.
Two boxers that dropped five decisions to Irish opponents over the last four years got their Olympic campaigns off to winning starts in the light-heavyweight division at the ExCel in London today.
China’s Fanlong Meng, who was beaten by 2008 Olympic silver medalist Ken Egan, David Joyce and current European champion Joe Ward in Ireland last year, progressed to the last-16 with a 17-8 win over Ahmed Barki – who was also beaten by Ward this year – of Morocco this afternoon.
Australia’s Damien Hooper also advanced. The Queensland-native lost to Egan and Ward in 2011 and 2010.
Hooper, the current Olympic Youth champion, was involved in a thrilling 81kg contest with Marcus Browne of the USA.
Browne was actually ahead in the early stages of this contest, but Hooper came storming back and forced the American into a standing count in the third on his way to a 13-11 win.
Iran’s Ehsan Rouzbahni, a victor over Ward on a countback for a place at the London Olympics at the 2011 AIBA World Championships in Azerbaijan, meets Colombia’s Jeysson Verela-Monroy tonight.
Whoever advances from that clash will face Turkey’s Bahram Muzaffer, who controversially beat Ward in the final Olympic qualifier for European male boxers in Turkey earlier this year, in the last-16 on August 4th.
Muzaffer was seeded number 6 for London 2012 and received a bye. Egan beat the Turk 10-2 en route to silver at the 2008 Olympics.