Mexican bantamweight Oscar Valdez took a big step toward an Olympic boxing medal Wednesday, defeating Tajikistan's Anvar Yunusov 13-7 to reach the quarterfinals.
Valdez, 21, showed the form that carried him to a bronze medal at the 2009 World Amateur Boxing Championships in Milan, Italy. He took the initiative from the outset and never let his opponent, a bronze medalist at the 2011 world championships in Azerbaijan, get comfortable in the ring.
"He's a great boxer. I've known him since the last Olympic Games and I was thrilled when the referee raised my hand," Valdez said afterward.
Valdez will next square off Sunday against another dangerous rival, Ireland's John Joe Nevin, with the winner assured of at least a bronze medal.
Nevin, who won bronze at the 2009 and 2011 World Amateur Boxing Championships, advanced to the quarterfinals with a 15-10 victory Wednesday over Kazakhstan's Kanat Abutalipov.
In other action Wednesday involving Latin American bantamweights, reigning world champion Lazaro Alvarez of Cuba outpointed American Joseph Diaz Jr. 21-15 and Brazil's Robenilson Vieira edged Russian Sergey Vodopiyanov 13-11.
Those two fighters will next lock horns in Sunday's quarterfinals.
The Brazilian won each of the first two rounds by one point and then fought Vodopiyanov to a draw in the final round to earn the victory.
Alvarez, meanwhile, cruised to an easy win over his overmatched opponent, dominating the contest with a wide variety of combinations.
Action in the heavyweight and super heavyweight divisions, meanwhile, got underway on Wednesday.
Argentine heavyweight Yamil Peralta got off to a good start with a 13-5 win over Algeria's Chouaib Bouloudinats, while Ecuadorian super heavyweight Ytalo Perea, the 2011 Pan American champion, was worn down by reigning Olympic champion Roberto Cammarelle of Italy in an 18-10 decision.