WELSH lightweight Joe Cordina won his opening contest at the Olympic Games on Saturday. Philippines’ Charly Suarez had some support in the arena at RioCentro but Cordina skipped in, relaxed on his feet. Both landed jabs to start the first round. Joe looked to hit a one-two. He lined up that combination and moved out. Suarez struck with a good right hand, although he didn’t shift Joe from the centre of the ring.

But in the second round Joe let him back into the contest. Cordina let his hands drop low. Suarez jolted him with a hard, clear cross. Charly struck him again with the right and even performed a foot shuffle to emphasise his confidence.

Joe needed to win the last round. He chopped in shots, switched his footing. Suarez leaped in with a left hook but Cordina scored with lovely clear jabs, he found his rhythm and took the decision.

The judges were split, one saw it 29-28 for Suarez but the other two went 30-27 and 29-28 to Cordina. He will box Uzbekistan’s Hurshid Tojibaev in the next stage on Tuesday (August 9).

Heavyweight Lawrence Okolie, like countryman Galal Yafai, is one of the international novices on the British team who were so impressive in managing to qualify for the Olympic Games at an early stage of his amateur career. He took on Poland’s Igor Jakubowski.

Okolie jabbed in to start the bout, though the Pole snagged him with a left hook. Lawrence’s power made a clear difference and he drove Jakubowski back with right, working busily. After the opening session Igor returned to his corner with a cut by his eye.

Lawrence connected with a right and a left hook and Jakubowsku dropped to a knee, ruled however a slip by the referee. In the last round Okolie became more ragged, breathing heavily, getting snared in a scrap in the third but Igor could not derail him. Okolie won unanimously, 29-28 for all three judges.

Lawrence has a very difficult assignment next, Cuba’s excellent 91kgs, Erislandy Savon on Monday (August 8).

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