By Cliff Rold
The first bout for Team USA at the 2012 Olympic, and indeed the first bout to be held at all of this year’s Olympics, was a successful one for 19-year old Joseph Diaz Jr. of El Monte, California. Diaz posted a 19-9 victory over 20-year old Ukrainian Pavlo Ischenko.
The first round of the bout was closely contested, even under the new scoring system at 3-3 with Diaz looking for contact and Ischenko lying in wait with a sudden left hook. Diaz started to find his groove late and blocked well in the opening frame.
Diaz would edge Ischenko 5-3 in the second round, the left hooks less sudden and less frequent from Ischenko. The bout, being contested inside, favored the more accurate and straight shooting Diaz.
Any competitiveness was blown aside in the third and final round, Diaz outscoring Ischenko 10-3. Ischenko, realizing he was behind, came out aggressive and Diaz used it to his advantage. Rocking Ischenko more than once, if without scoring a standing eight, Diaz was landing cleaner and in volume in the third.
Diaz advances to the second round to face 21-year Cuban Lavaro Alvarez. The slick southpaw will be a considerable mountain to climb, the World Amateur Champion in 2011.
Cliff Rold is a member of the Ring Magazine Ratings Advisory Panel, the Yahoo Pound for Pound voting panel, and the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at [email protected]