By Jake Donovan
The Elite Eight of the bantamweight division kicks off Sunday evening action in London.
Luke Campbell has become the first from a Great Britain team of nine quarterfinalists to advance to the medal round. The win was no easy feat, as he trailed the entire way before rallying back to take a 16-15 win over Detelin Dalakliev of Bulgaria.
The biggest complaint of any Olympic competition is the preferential treatment shown by the judges to the hosting nation. Such was not the case in this fight, as Campbell experienced tough love throughout the contest. Dalakliev pressed forward early on, enjoying a 4-3 lead after one round.
Campbell appeared to clearly take the second and third rounds. The judges only met him halfway, scoring the second round level at 5-5 and forcing the Brit to dig deep in order to pull off something dramatic.
He managed just that, dominating the final round despite only being given the frame by a two-point margin.
Still, it was enough to get the job done as Campbell advances to the medal round. The win is his second over Dalakliev, who served for the 2004 Bulgaria Olympic squad. A trip to the 2008 Beijing Games was spoiled when Dalakliev was upset by Campbell in the 2008 European Amateur championships.
History repeated itself as Dalakliev comes up just short once again. His loss is the first suffered by any fighter for Bulgaria's 2012 squad, having won six straight heading into Sunday evening.
Campbell will face Satoshi Shimizu of Japan, who continues to lead an improbable tale.
Shimizu advanced to the quarterfinals thanks to a ruling made Wednesday evening by the AIBA, overturning the original verdict of his controversial Round of 16 points loss to Magomed Abdulhamidov. He is now guaranteed a medal after a 17-15 win over Algeria’s Mohamed Ouadahi, in a fight that once again required a last round rally in order to turn the trick.
Ouadahi jumped out to an early lead, hardly a unique experience for Shimizu. The Japanese southpaw appeared to fall further behind in the second round as well, but was fortunate to escape with a 6-6 tie in the frame, leaving the fight at a one-point margin heading into the final round.
Shimizu wasn't his usual ball of energy that he has shown in previous Olympic comebacks. However, he benefited from a questionable strategy adjustment by Ouadahi, who appeared exhausted as he clinched his way through most of the round.
The final dagger came midway through the round, when Ouadahi received a public warning for leading with his head. The two points added to Shimizu's total proved to be the margin of victory in the end.
With the win, Shimizu is now guaranteed at least a bronze, despite having only won three out of nine total rounds fought in 2012 competition. The dream run certainly surpasses his 2008 Olympic tour, when he was eliminated in the opening round of competition.
Lazaro Alvarez of Cuba became the first fighter of 2012 Olympic competition to officially qualify for a medal. The bantamweight overcome a slight deficit to take a 16-11 win over Robenilson Vieira of Brazil.
Vieira fought inspired in the opening round, enjoying a two-point lead after one. The threat of an upset never surfaced, however, as Alvarez came alive in a dominant round two. The lone hiccup came late in the round, when Alvarez appeared to touch the canvas with his glove in order to steady himself. No knockdown was called, but it hardly mattered in the grand scheme of the things.
A dominant third round closed the show for Alvarez, who is one of six Cuban fighters still alive in competition. Five more are one fight away from the medal round for a team that is 10-2 thus far.
Alvarez faces John Joe Nevin, who became the first Irish bantamweight in 20 years to secure a medal after a 19-13 win over Oscar Valdez of Mexico.
Nevin rode an early lead all the way to the finish line. The Irishman was appealing enough to the judges to where he survived a late knockdown and was permitted to run the entire final minute of the fight, yet managed to win the round by a three-point margin to add to his lead.
Valdez' loss eliminates Mexico's two-man boxing squad from competition. His journey in the 2012 Games was far more successful than his tour four years ago, when he was eliminated in the first round as a 17-year old entrant.
The bantamweight semifinals take place on Friday, August 10. The winners will go on to compete for the Gold medal on Sunday, August 12.
Bantamweight Quarterfinals (Sunday, August 5)
Lazaro Alvarez (Cuba) def. Robenilson Vieira (Brazil), 16-11
John Joe Nevin (Ireland) def. Oscar Valdez (Mexico), 19-13
Luke Campbell (Great Britain) def. Detelin Dalakliev (Bulgaria), 16-15
Satoshi Shimizu (Japan) def. Mohamed Ouadahi (Algeria), 17-15
Bantamweight Semifinals (Medal Round – Friday, August 10)
Lazaro Alvarez (Cuba) vs. John Joe Nevin (Ireland)
Luke Campbell (Great Britain) vs. Satoshi Shimizu (Japan)
Round of 16 Matchups (Wednesday, August 1):
Lazaro Alvarez (Cuba) def. Joseph Diaz Jr. (USA) 21-15
Robenilson Vieira (Brazil) def. Sergey Vodopiyanov (Russia), 13-11
John Joe Nevin (Ireland) def. Kanat Abutalipov (Kazakhstan), 15-10
Oscar Valdez (Mexico) def. Anjar Yunosov (Tajikistan), 13-7
Luke Campbell (Great Britain) def. Vitorrio Parrinello (Italy), 11-9
Detelin Dalakliev (Bulgaria) def. Ibraham Balla (Australia), 14-10
Mohamed Ouadahi (Algeria) def. William Encarnacion (Dominican Republic), 16-10
Satoshi Shimizu (Japan) def. Magomed Abdulhamidov (Azerbaijan), RSC-3 *
* - Original verdict was Abdullhamidov winner by 22-17; Verdict overruled upon review by the AIBA
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 no-show at weigh-in)
William Encarnacion (Dominican Republic) def. Romeo Lemboumba (Gabon), 15-6
Satoshi Shimizu (Japan) def. Isaac Dogboe (Ghana), 10-9
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com. Follow Jake on Twitter: