Day 5, afternoon session: Tokyo welcomes los Cubanos

TOKYO, JAPAN – JULY 27: Julio la Cruz of Cuba reacts after the Men’s Heavy (81-91kg) on day four of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Kokugikan Arena on July 27, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Ueslei Marcelino – Pool/Getty Images)

It’s finally time for los Cubanos to step on the ring, at the Kokugikan Arena, the boxing venue of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 Boxing Tournament. A series of favorable BYE in the initial draw meant no Cuban athletes had boxed here yet, delaying the debut of one of the most successful Olympic boxing teams of all times (with a total tally of 73 medals, Cuba is second only to USA’s 114 podiums) until this afternoon.

The 2012 Olympic Champion and 2008 Olympic bronze medalist Roniel IGLESIAS (CUB) had a slow start into his Men’s Welter (63-69kg) match facing Japan’s Sweonrets Quincy Mensah OKAZAWA, the 32-year-old Cuban boxer lost the first round and had to fight hard to claim the second. It was only at the beginning of round #3 that he regained his usual rhythm, controlling his opponents with a series of measured and well-calculated shots, to eventually win a spot in the quarterfinal by a 3:2 split decision.

There, he will meet USA’s first-time Olympian Delante JOHNSON. The 22-year-old boxer from Cleveland, OH, beat Kazakhstan’s Alaikhan ZHUSSUPOV thanks to a 4:1 split decision, to keep his Olympic dream alive.

In the same weight category, Georgia’s Eskerkhan MADIEV outscored Uganda’s Shadiri BWOGI, booking a quarterfinal match against London’s 2012 Olympic bronze medalist Andrei ZAMKOVOI (ROC), who passed through the round of 16 by beating Stephan ZIMBA of Zambia.

In the Men’s Heavy (81-91kg), the 2016 light-heavyweight Olympic Champion Julio LA CRUZ, the second Cuban athlete up on the ring today, administrated his energies throughout the round of 16 bout against Kenia’s Elly Ajowi OCHOLA. LA CRUZ danced around the ring, showcasing his dodging abilities and sharp counterpunches, to secure a 5:0 unanimous decision victory. He’s now up to a fellow Cuban-born athlete, Enmanuel REYES PLA, who represents Spain after being naturalized in 2020. REYES PLA gained his quarterfinal slot by knocking-out Rio 2016 Silver medalist Vassilly LEVIT of Kazakhstan amid round 2, today.

In another highlight Men’s Heavy weight class match, Hussein IASHAISH of Jordan smashed Julio Cesar CASTILLO TORRES of Ecuador, fighting back after a slow start in round one, to win a spot in the quarterfinal by split decision. Born and raised in the refugee camp of Baqa, in Jordan, IASHAISH comes from a family of boxers, which counts fifteen members in the sport. His brother Zeyad Eishaih Hussein EASHASH is also here in Tokyo, and competed in the Men’s Welter (63-69kg) class right until his elimination in the round of 16, earlier this morning.

IASHAISH said: “My brother came to me after his fight and told me he had been unlucky with his defeat, but that I would get the medal for both of us and that my medal is his medal. We can both of us go back together as brothers with a medal.”

“Right now, I am so happy,” he added. “I knew I was fighting a very tough opponent, the third-ranked boxer here. I knew how he fights, but I just stuck to the tactics my coaches gave me hoping I would beat him.”

In the quarterfinals, the Jordan athlete will face Brazil’s Abner TEIXEIRA who eliminated Great Britain’s Cheavon CLARKE, today.

In the Women’s Light (57-60kg) round of 32, Chinese Taipei’s Shih-Yi WU had the best of Sweden’s Agnes ALEXIUSSON, winning on points with a 4:1 split decision, while Mira Marjut Johanna POTKONEN of Finland clinched a 3:1 victory over Maiva HAMADOUCHE of France.

Closing day 4 at the Kokugikan Arena, the Women’s Welter (64-69kg) round of 16 saw the victories of Oshae JONES of USA (3:2 against Mexico’s Brianda Tamara CRUZ SANDOVAL) and Maria Altagracia MORONTA HERNANDEZ of the Dominican Republic (5:0 against Myriam DA SILVA of Canada). Alcinda Helena PANGUANA (MOZ) also advanced to the quarterfinals, outdoing Elizabeth AKINYI of Kenia as the referee stopped the contest amid round #2.

The two-time Asian Championship winner and #2 seed in this tournament GU Hong of the People’s Republic of China gained the last quarterfinal slot, as she defeated Thailand’s 19-year-old Baison MANIKON by unanimous decision, in the last bout of the day.

Tomorrow, 28 July, action is set to begin at 11:00 AM (Japan’s time) here in Tokyo, with the Women’s Feather (54-57kg) quarterfinals and the Women’s Middle (69-75kg), Men’s Feather (52-57kg), Men’s Light Heavy (75-81kg) round of 16 bouts on the schedule.

Event schedule and results

Find the event schedule and the results here.  

Updated Draw Sheets

Men’s Welter (63-69kg)

Men’s Heavy (81-91kg)

Women’s Light (57-60kg)

Women’s Welter (64-69kg)

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