| LONDON, July 28
LONDON, July 28 When American Joseph Diaz was
told who his first Olympic opponent would be after Friday's
draw, he swapped the gym for his laptop and went straight to
YouTube to take a first look at what he would be up against.
The homework paid off when Diaz, the youngest member of the
U.S. boxing squad at 19, won the opening fight of the London
games, beating Ukrainian bantamweight Pavlo Ishchenko 19-9 with
more than half the points coming in a blizzard of third round
"After I got the draw I looked him up on YouTube, a lot of
fighters just look up all the fighters that they're going to be
going against, that's part of our training," Diaz, who strutted
to the ring wearing a stars and stripes bandana, told reporters.
"It felt great just being in the environment," he said of
being the first fighter to climb into the ring. "I just realised
this guy is human just like me, he sweats, he bleeds and he's
nervous just like me so I've got to do what I do, and I ended up
pulling the 'W' (win)."
The Californian teenager also had an added incentive to
progress to Wednesday's second round - the thought that a gold
medal could potentially help his family out financially after
his parents both lost their jobs.
With his father and coach Joseph Snr by his side in London,
the American southpaw felt the extra boost needed to dispatch
the Ukrainian who almost got the better of a tight first round.
"It really means a lot, they (my family) are out there in
the crowd cheering me on, I can feel the momentum. My family's
my everything and I'm trying to bring back a medal for them and
hopefully help them out financially," Diaz said.
The exciting American next faces top seed and world champion
Lazaro Alvarez Estrada of Cuba whom he lost to last year.
Elsewhere in the ultra-competitive 56 kilogramme category,
twice world bronze medallist John Joe Nevin of Ireland eased
through his opening bout with a 21-6 victory over Denmark's
Dennis Ceylan at the Excel arena.
Syria's only representative in the ring, 26-year-old Wessam
Slamana, was beaten 15-7 by Kazakhstan's Kanat Abutalipov
Asked what he wanted to say to the people of Syria, Slamana
said through a translator that he apologised because he had lost
the first bout and that he had tried to win a medal.
(Reporting by Padraic Halpin, Editing by Nigel Hunt)