AMERICAN light flyweight Nico Hernandez (Wichita, Kansas) upset number two tournament seed Vasilii Egorov of Russia on Monday night to score his second victory of the 2016 Olympic Games. Hernandez tuned out the boos in the arena and ignored his opponent’s resume to put on an impressive display of boxing in Monday’s second round action. While six of his seven teammates haven’t stepped in to the ring at the Riocentro Pavilion 6, Hernandez has already scored two victories and clinched his spot in the quarterfinal round.
Hernandez opened the bout with a strong first round, finding an early home for his left hook. He finished the round with several strong shots to the head and the body to the displeasure of the crowd. The second stanza was the American’s strongest round as he started mixing in effective straight shots that snapped back the Russian’s head. Hernandez mixed in well-executed feints to confuse his opponent and won the second round on all three judges’ scorecards. Sensing he was down, the Russian came out aggressively in the round, looking to smother Hernandez and mixing in clinches and elbows with his punches. Hernandez withstood the Russian’s late attempted rally and won his second straight unanimous decision of the Olympic Games.
“I knew he was one of the top seeds. I knew I wasn’t expected to win. Coach came up with a game plan. We knew he was going to come forward the whole fight and try to brawl so I just used my feints again and picked my shots,” Hernandez said. “I knew he was going to throw a lot of punches so my defense had to be great today. I just kept trying to keep my head moving. After I was making him miss more and more, he just started getting more desperate and throwing more shots that he wasn’t landing.”
Despite Egorov’s wild style and rough tactics, Hernandez refused to allow his opponent or the hostile crowd to pull him out of his game plan. “Coming in to this fight, I knew he was a rough fighter and he was going to try and make it rough for me so I just had to keep my composure and stay smart with it. I got head butted a couple times. He’s a wild fighter so I had to expect that,” he said. “I’m used to getting booed now. I got booed on Saturday. I’m not sure what it is against us Americans but I just stay focused on my fight.”
With two big wins under his belt, Hernandez is happy about his success at the Olympic Games but he is staying focused on securing a berth on the medal stand. “It feels great. This is definitely a booster for me, for my confidence. I knew I could do it. I just had to be on my top game tonight,” Hernandez said. “I just have to stay focused, stay on track and keep going. I knew he was on top so that made me want to beat him even more.”
Hernandez won’t have much time to enjoy his big victory, he will back for a quarterfinal match with Ecuador’s Carlos Eduardo Quipo Palaxti on Wednesday at 5:15 p.m. local time (4:15 ET) at the Riocentro Pavilion 6. A victory in Wednesday’s bout would clinch at least a bronze medal for Hernandez.
Two American boxers will compete in day four of competition in Rio de Janeiro on Tuesday. Lightweight Carlos Balderas (Santa Maria, Calif.) will return for his second bout of the tournament in a lightweight match-up with Japan’sDaisuke Narimatsu at 11:15 a.m. local time (10:15 a.m. ET) and middleweightCharles Conwell (Cleveland Heights, Ohio) will make his Olympic debut against India’s Krishan Vikas at 6:15 p.m. local time (5:15 p.m. ET).