RIO DE JANEIRO – Thailand’s Amnat Ruenroeng been eliminated after Sofiane Oumiha of France absolutely battered him over the final two rounds before the fight was stopped Monday.
Amnat Ruenroeng the former world professional champion, one of the top Thai bets for a boxing medal in the 2016 Olympics, was battered into submission by a French amateur in their last-16 clash on Wednesday.
The Thai veteran, a former inmate who went on to capture the IBF flyweight crown, was stopped by Sofiane Oumiha halfway through the last round of their lightweight (60kg) division bout.
Amnat could not handle the might of 21-year-old Oumiha despite producing glimpses of his brilliance in the first canto. Anmat, who lost his IBF belt in May this year, received two standing eight counts in the second round before the fight was stopped midway through the third and final round.
“I did not box well,” admitted said the 36-year-old Amnat. “In the first round, I was okay but after being punched with a powerful hook, I felt hurt a lot. I could not move as I wanted to and whenever I tried to exchange punches, I got punched myself.”
Amnat was recruited into the national team only a few months ago after losing his IBF title and was the last Thai to qualify for the Rio Games.
Despite the limited time he had to prepare for the Games, he was being touted as one of the Thai favourites to bring home a boxing medal.
Considering his experience and past exploits, Amnat’s premature exit from Rio ring was unexpected.
“I am sorry to the Thai fans for not being able to take home a medal,” said Amnat, who crashed out in the quarter-finals of the 2008 Beijing Games.
“I had committed myself to winning a medal here but I couldn’t. I am really sorry for that,” he repeated.
The Chon Buri native said he was undecided on his future but he would either box in the world series or work as a coach.
Amnat earned his Rio ticket through the Aiba Pro Boxing (APB) and World Series Boxing (WSB) Olympic qualifiers in Venezuela where professional fighters were allowed to join for the first time.
He was among the three professional boxers who qualified for the Rio Games with the other two being former WBO interim middleweight champion Hassan N’Dam N’jikam of Cameroon and Carmine Tommasone of Italy.
Unfortunately, the three pros all suffered early exits in Rio.
Lightweight Tommasone lost to top seed Lazaro Jorge Alvarez of Cuba in the last-16 stage, and N’jikam had only one bout after being beaten by Michel Borges of Brazil in the 81kg first round.
Meanwhile, welterweight Sailom Ardee enters the ring tomorrow morning at 4.45am, Thai time, to face Simeon Chamov of Bulgaria in the men’s 69kg last-16 round.
Chamov cannot be underestimated after his upset victory over sixth seed Onur Sipal of Turkey in the last-32 round.
“I am feel more relaxed after winning in the first round,” said the 30-year-old Sailom, who recorded a close 2-1 win over Pavel Kastramin of Belarus in the opening bout.
“I will give my all because I am only two wins away from taking a medal. I am ready to fight for the Thai fans. I have never fought the Bulgarian before but I am confident I can beat him. I want to win for the fans after Amnat’s loss.”
Khon Kaen native Sailom is making his third appearance in the Olympics. The Thailand Boxing Association, which was established to replace the Amateur Boxing Association of Thailand in 2011, is seeking its first Olympic gold medal.
Thailand managed only one silver in boxing at London 2012 thanks to Kaew Pongprayoon.
By Kittipong Thongsombat and Thomas Gerbasi