Andy Cruz (Cuba) has waited years for his turn in the rotation to get to the Olympics. He didn't waste a second of the moment, dominating Luke McCormack (Great Britain) in his 2020 Tokyo debut Saturday evening at Kokugikan Arena in Tokyo.
Cruz—the number-three seed—worked his jab from beginning to end, winning every round on the scorecards of all five judges.
Both boxers worked their jab in the opening round, with McCormack offering a good account of himself but simply unable to keep pace with Cruz. The night would never get better for the Brit, who was forced to contend with Cruz's slick defense, jackhammer jab and right hand over the top which repeatedly found its way through McCormack's guard.
Cruz will face Wanderson de Oliveira (Brazil) in the quarterfinals. De Oliveira gets there following a split decision win over Dzmitry Asanau (Belarus).
Gabil Mamedov advanced the ROC Athletes to a perfect 11-0 in Tokyo following a three-round unanimous decision win over Richarno Colin, a three-time Olympian representing Mauritius.
Scores were 30-27, 30-27, 30-27, 30-27 and 29-28 for Mamedov, who stormed into the Olympics after an emphatic 1st round knockout of Bachkov, who was the top seed heading into the European Olympic Qualification tournament this past June in Paris.
Mamedov will now go on to face Keyshawn Davis, who continues to remain the U.S. Olympics team best shot at winning a Gold medal—even in a loaded lightweight field. Davis gets to the quarterfinals following a second-round knockout of France's Sofiane Oumiha, the tournament's number-one seed and returning 2016 Olympic Silver medalist.
Full recap of Davis-Oumiha can be found here: https://www.boxingscene.com/keyshawn-davis-stops-top-seed-sofiane-oumiha-2nd-round-advances-lightweight-quarterfinals-tokyo--159514
In a more ideal boxing world, Hovhannes Bachkov (Armenia) and Jayid Chalabiyev (Azerbaijan) would have met much later in the tournament.
Their all-out slugfest instead came in the Round of 16, which meant one fighter had to exit well beyond the medal round. Bachkov avoided such a fate, as he advances to the lightweight quarterfinals after edging Chalabiyev on four of the five cards.
Chalabiyev forced an aggressive pace early and the fight never slowed down from there. The Azerbaijani had his right hand ready to launch every time Bachkov worked his way inside. It set the tone for a savage brawl that deserved a crowd and better stakes than a second round pairing.
Both fighters were left to the cheers of their teammates, the only ones besides essential personnel allowed in the main part of the arena. The fight itself produced its own energy, with Bachkov quickly adapting to Chalabiyev's right hand leads and offering sheer volume to sweep round two.
The fight was dead even on four of the five cards heading into the final round. Bachkov and Chalabiyev fought accordingly, throwing well over 100 punches each in a furiously paced frame, though with Bachkov getting the better of the exchanges and ultimately the greater amount of love from the judges.
Bachkov will have three days for his lumps to heal ahead of his quarterfinal bout with Elnur Abduraimov (Uzbekistan). The matchup was established after Abudraimov outpointed Bakhodir Usmunov (Tajikistan) by scores of 30-27, 30-27, 29-28, 29-28 and 29-28.
Zakir Safiullin (Kazakhstan) advances to the quarterfinals by default. The Kazakh lightweight is credited with a win via walkover after Daisuke Narimatsu (Japan) was pulled from competition due to previous head injury.
Naritmatsu complained of dizzying following his opening round win over Fiston Mbaya Mulumba. Medical protocol disallowed from further competing in the tournament.
Safiullin will next face Harry Garside (Australia) who defeated number-two seed Jonas Jonas (Namibia) by unanimous decision. Scores were 30-27, 30-27, 30-27, 29-28 and 29-28 for Garside, who is the last Australian fighter left in competition.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox