THE captain of Great Britain’s boxing team, light-welterweight Thomas Stalker, took to the field of play against Manoj Kumar. The Liverpudlian had been hoping to improve on his World Championship victory over the Indian but Kumar had another torrid three rounds in store for him.

The English southpaw worked hard, drumming plenty of shots against Kumar’s guard. Manoj kept tight, advancing on Stalker but letting loose only once Thomas’ flurries had finished. Kumar landed clear when he chose his moments but the volume Stalker was putting out brought the scoreboard his way.

By the final round the Briton was endeavouring to defend his lead but he couldn’t entirely escape the clutches of Kumar. Manoj got to him in that round but Stalker had it 20-16.

Stalker’s rivals are massing at 64 kgs. Ukraine’s Denys Berinchyk had an absolute war with Swedish toughman Anthony Yigit. In a crazy second round both opted for the manly art of no defence, slugging at one another’s head with a frenzy of hooks. Berinchyk, hard-boiled to the extreme, powered through to a 24-23 result.

Cuba’s Roniel Iglesias overcame Brazil’s Everton Lopes 18-15 in a bout that combined action and sheer quality.

Paddy Barnes, Ireland’s light-flyweight, got his account off the mark, keeping his gloves up and chin tucked down as he stalked Thomas Essomba. Barnes slanted in accurate hooks whenever the Cameroonian opened up, recording a 15-10 win.

Also at 49 kgs China’s Zou Shiming demonstrated his perennial class, handling good Cuban Yosbany Veitia masterfully for a 14-11 win. Also at light-fly Bulgaria’s Aleksandar Aleksandrov, the man who arrested Britain’s Charlie Edwards’ path to the Olympics, scored a 15-14 upset to beat World silver medallist, Korea’s Shin Jonghun.

At light-heavyweight Russia’s Egor Mekhontsev muscled Damien Hooper back. The Australian came back at him bravely but could not salvage his position, going out 19-11. Cuba’s 81 kgs Julio la Cruz confirmed himself as strong gold medal favourite, beautifully frustrating Ihab Almatbouli, the first Jordanian to box at an Olympic Games. La Cruz let punches barely graze him, contorting artfully and landing marvellous counters to win 25-8.

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