By Jake Donovan
The Round of 32 in the bantamweight division is officially in the books. Eleven fighters advance based on what took place in the ring, four by virtue of first-round byes and one fighter winning at the scales.
Joseph Diaz Jr. was the first member of Team USA to fight - and advance - in the Games, soundly outpointing Pavlo Ischenko of Ukraine in their opening round bantamweight bout, which marked the very first match of the 2012 Olympic Boxing competition.
Diaz, targeted as a can't miss future pro prospect, faces Lazaro Alvarez of Cuba in the Round of 16. The bout serves as a rematch to the 2011 World Amateur Boxing Championships, in which Alvarez outpointed the American 19-10 on the way to an eventual 1st place finish in the competition.
The final bout of the evening (local time) portion of the competition saw its most questionable verdict yet, as Shatoshi Shimizu of Japan was awarded an unpopular 10-9 decision over Ghana's Isaac Dogboe.
Shimizu - an absurdly tall bantamweight who is nine years older than the 17-year old Dogboe - was down by two points heading into the final round. A late rally by the Japanese bantamweight rated far more favorably over the inactivity of Dogboe, who inexplicably slowed down considerably down the stretch.
The crowd was vocal in its displeasure over the final verdict, though it once again speaks to the major differences in scoring between pro and amateur scoring. Nevertheless, Shimizu now faces Magomed Abdulhamidov of Azerbaijan, who received an opening-round bye as the overall number two seed.
William Encarnacion cruised to a 15-6 decision over Romeo Lemboumba of Gabon. The Dominican bantamweight next faces Mohamed Ouadahi of Algeria, who received an unofficial bye in his opening round matchiup. Ouadahi climbed through the ropes to have his hand raised in victory after Merab Turkadze of Georgia was disqualified for missing weight (56kg).
Ibraham Balla of Australia will face bullying Bulgarian bantamweight Detelin Dalakliev in the Round of 16, though both arrived by very different means.
Dalakliev advances after dominating game but outmatched Ayabonga Sonjica of South Africa by score of 18-7. Dalakliev built up an early lead and managed to fight well enough to fend off a determined Sonjica, who never stopped trying in the final round.
The 22-year old Balla was fortunate to squeak by Aboukar Lbida of Morocco, rallying in the final round to even the score at 16-16. The fight then went to an official tiebreaker (countback), where the highest and lowest scores are thrown out, with the remaining three judges' totals tabulated. Balla was determined the winner, to the chagrin of the 32-year old Lbida, who dropped to his knees in disbelief as the crowd lustily booed the decision.
Italy's well-established amateur middleweight Vittorio Parrinello advances to the Round of 16 after a decisive points win over Jonas Matheus of Namibia by a score of 18-7. Parrinello jumped out to a huge lead early on, though Matheus made things interesting in after briefly rocking the Italian medal hopeful in the final round.
The 2012 Games marks the second Olympic tour for Parrinello, who served on the 2008 Italy squad but was sent home in the opening round after being handed a boxing lesson by Worapoj Petchkoom of Thailand.
The 28-year old Parrinello is far improved since then, though has a tough challenge ahead. Awaiting him in the Round of 16 is Great Britain's own Luke Campbell (the boxer, not the rapper/music mogul), who was given a first-round bye as the number three seed in the bantamweight division.
Bantamweights - Round of 32 Results (Saturday, July 28):
Joseph Diaz Jr. (USA) def. Pavlo Ischenko (Ukraine), 19-9
Sergey Vodopiyanov (Russia) def. Alberto Melian (Argentina), 12-5
Robenilson Vieira (Brazil) def. Orzubek Shayimov (Uzbekistan), 13-7
JJ Nevin (Ireland) def. Dennis Ceylan (Denmark), 21-6
Kanat Abutalipov (Kazakhstan) def. Wessam Slamana (Syria), 15-7
Oscar Valdez (Mexico) def. Shiva Thapa (India), 14-9
Vitorrio Parrinello (Italy) def. Jonas Matheus (Namibia), 18-7
Ibraham Balla (Australia) def. Aboubakr Lbida (Morocco) 16-16 (Balla won on countback)
Detelin Dalakliev (Bulgaria) def. Ayabonga Sonjica (South Africa) - 15-6
Mohamed Ouadahi (Algeria) def.
Merab Turkadze (Georgia)
Walkover (Turkadze failed to make weight)
William Encarnacion (Dominican Republic) def. Romeo Lemboumba - 15-6
Satoshi Shimizu (Japan) def. Isaac Dogboe (Ghana) - 10-9
Round of 16 Matchups (Wednesday, August 1):
Joseph Diaz Jr. (USA) vs. Lazaro Alvarez (Cuba/ Received 1st round bye)
Sergey Vodopiyanov (Russia) vs. Robenilson Vieira (Brazil)
John Joe Nevin (Ireland) vs. Kanat Abutalipov (Kazakhstan)
Oscar Valdez (Mexico) vs. Anjar Yunosov (Tajikistan/Received 1st round bye)
Vitorrio Parrinello (Italy) vs. Luke Campbell (Great Britain/Received 1st round bye)
Ibraham Balla (Australia) vs. Detelin Dalakliev (Bulgaria)
Mohamed Ouadahi (Algeria) vs. William Encarnacion (Dominican Republic)
Satoshi Shimizu (Japan) vs. Magomed Abdulhamidov (Azerbaijan/Received 1st round bye)
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com. Follow Jake on Twitter: