Rio '16: Boxing- Day 1 Results
Team USA shot right out of the gate with early wins from Carlos Balderas and Nico Hernandez at Lightweight and Light Flyweight.
Balderas Jr. vs. Berik Abdrakhmanov (Kazakhstan)
Abdrakhmanov unleashes at the sound of the first bell, going for a head shot straight away. Hernandez bobs and weaves into a left straight to the body of his opponent. Left hooks score him points as he continues to duck under long-reaching swings. Another southpaw shot pops Abdrakhmanov in the face as he presses forward. Balderas’ gloves are low and he pays for it briefly, leading to a clinch.
They separate on their own with Balderas answering with double rights. Abdrakhmanov gets tagged again but appears to land a left uppercut. The American offers up another left straight with a responding hook whizzing over Abdrakhmanov’s head into a right jab. The two tie up once more until there are just seconds remaining in the first round. A combo to the midsection sees Abdrakhmanov have the last word in this “body language” conversation and two of three judges give him the round.
The 19-year-old Balderas opens the second by starting to increase the volume of his strikes. A half-minute into the frame his momentum is stopped after Abdrakhmanov takes a shot to the cup.
They’re back at it again as Balderas takes a few shots to the body to land leather on Abdrakhmanov by way of a right uppercut. He piles on double right hooks. Abdrakhmanov counters for a moment but is still having trouble matching the speed of his temporary adversary. He peppers Balderas, but the crowd is getting restless as the onslaught is successfully defended.
Abdrakhmanov might be exhausting himself now as he backs away and walks around the canvas into the final minute. Balderas scores with a left hook in tight. The referee separates the men with just thirty seconds left and it’s Balderas who connects first, following a right hook with three lefts to the ribs of Abdrakhmanov.
Both swap left uppercuts from there and the Team USA rep maintains distance until the bell.
The commentators note that with the start of the final round Balderas does not fear the punches he’s up against. Abdrakhmanov is pushed against the ropes. A left jab from the U.S. comes his way, but soon they trade places. A haymaker glides in front of Balderas. They rest in the clinch with two to go.
It’s become clear now that the simple left jab is the favored punch out of the blue corner, but Abdrakhmanov still can’t get out of its way. A right-left-hook combo puts the U.S. firmly ahead until the end of the bout.
Carlos Balderas Jr. def. Berik Abdrakhmanov via Unanimous Decision (3-0)
Hernandez vs. Manuel Cappai (Italy)
In the next display of human chess, Nico Hernandez took out a more experienced challenger fighting out of Rome. They test the waters for much of the first round before Hernandez takes an edge with a jab-right hand combo. Hernandez is utilizing head move movement while in contrast, Cappai is the taller pugilist. Cappi rips off a clinch uppercut. They are separated, but there is no explanation given to the public.
They are separated, but there is no explanation given to the public. Both had been a bit rough earlier, Hernandez took a few blows to the back of the head and responds with a clinch turned wrestling/judo takedown leading to an initial break by the referee.
Cappai is always moving between right and left stance with the highlight of the round being wild overhands from both. The Italian lands a right jab seconds before the bell.
Hernandez continues to lurch forward and is met with a right hand. Nothing happens in tights as Cappai pushes of Hernandez to exit the clinch. Cappai takes a left hook. Both have been holding their gloves low, a tactic to get an opponent to move closer. Hernandez has been simply brawling his way through six minutes, capping off the second with an overhand right.
Hernandez’s first minute doesn’t produce much with the lunging swings but he backs Cappai into a corner before he circles out. Boom–another right! Now it’s all about the number of strikes and they add up and become too much to counter in the final seconds.
Nico Hernandez def. Manuel Cappai via Unanimous Decision (3-0)
Overall Medal Count
Day 1: Team USA tied for first in the count (1G, 4S, 0B) along with Japan (1G, 0S, 4B) and China (0G, 2S, 3B.)