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Diaz kicks off Olympics with win for Team USA

The first punch of the 2012 Olympics was thrown by American bantamweight Joseph Diaz Jr., who would also score the Games’ first win with a convincing decision over Ukraine’s Pavlo Ischenko.

In front of a supportive crowd that included his father and trainer, Joseph Diaz Sr., along with four other family members, the native of South El Monte, Calif., scored with straight left hands to take a 4-3 lead in the first round, and stayed sharp in the second with hard and accurate shots to increase his lead to 9-6.

The 19-year-old Diaz outdid himself in the third round, though, nailing Ischenko with uppercuts and more straight lefts to post a final score of 19-9, thus giving Team USA a strong start to the London Games.

“It feels really great (to be the first winner of the 2012 Games). I’m giving the whole Team USA a boost right now,” said Diaz. “Everyone was already motivated because they want to get that medal but I feel like I motivated them even more. I feel that now thery’ve seen the environment so they’re not going to be that anxious and nervous. They’re gonna be ready.”

Diaz Jr. now advances to the round of 16 where he will face No. 1-seeded Cuban Lazaro Alvarez, to whom he lost by a score of 19-10 in the quarterfinals at the 2011 World Championships in Azerbaijan.

Middleweight Anthony Agogo also scored a first-round win on his home turf with a 13-6 decision over Junior Martinez Castillo, of the Dominican Republic. Ogogo will now face Ukrainian world champion Ievgen Khytrov in round two.

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