LONDON—When the bell rang to end the first round of his Olympic debut fight, Osmar Bravo’s hopes of progressing further in the Olympic Games looked bleak. His opponent, Bosko Draskovic, of Montenegro, had come out swinging and the panel of five judges scored the first round in his favor, 5 points to 2. Bravo’s body language was that of someone in pain, and only a few of his punches had connected with the younger Draskovic.
Nicaragua’s top Olympic athlete in the 2012 Summer Games appeared nervous and winded as he returned to his corner. He was huffing and puffing after spending the first three minutes on the receiving end of several hard jabs to the stomach and ribs. Though Bravo countered with several head blows, the 27-year-old Nicaraguan fighter had spent most of the first round on his heels.
But the quick breather in between rounds served him well. When the bell sounded for the start of second round, Bravo came out of his corner to show London, Montenegro and the rest of the world why he is an Olympic athlete.
By the second minute of round two, Bravo had changed the pace of the fight after landing several successful combination punches to Draskovic’s head. Just towards the end of the round Bravo delivered a powerful right and sent the 25-year-old opponent stumbling backwards. The judges scored the second round 5 points to 2 in Bravo’s favor.
The judges’ score was even going into the final round, but the Nicaraguan Light Heavyweight had the momentum and a newfound confidence as he looked to add to his career record of 66 wins. The second round had taken a visible toll on Draskovic, who cautiously came out of his corner to meet Bravo in the center of the ring.
The third round would be Bravo’s finest. His simple two-punch combination of a left jab followed by a right hook, and then by a quick retreat, seemed to be working. Both fighters exchanged body shots but Bravo was the more accurate of the pair as he hammered away constantly at his opponent’s head.
In a bustling ExCeL arena in London’s East End, a crowd of almost 10,000 became more animated and chants of “Bravo! Bravo!” could be heard from the stands. The British commentators were applauding the Nicaraguan’s comeback, his character and courage. It was clear Bravo was leading the final round and would come out on top.
To leave no doubt in the judges’ minds, Bravo landed a huge right-hand blow to Draskovic in the closing minute of the fight, forcing the referee to give the dazed opponent a standing 8-count.
When the final bell rang to signal the end of the match, Bravo returned to his corner jubilant and optimistic. The referee brought both boxers to the middle of the ring and waited for an announcer to call out the judges’ final scores: Bravo 16 – Draskovic 11. The Nicaraguan had won and his coaches were ecstatic.
Both fighters received a standing ovation from the crowd for their efforts. Bravo will now progress into the round of 16 where he will go up against the Ukrainian boxer Oleksandr Gvozdyk on Saturday at 11 p.m (GMT).
The four days in between fights will give the Nicaraguan an opportunity to reflect on his victory and prepare for his next bout. He will also have the opportunity to enjoy the moment of being part of the greatest sporting competition in the world—a long way from home and his job as a cabinetmaker in the Caribbean town of Muelle de los Bueyes.
David Hutt is a freelance writer from London, UK, who will be on the trail of Latin America during the next year and will be working as a tour guide in Leon, Nicaragua. Follow his travels and misadventures on his blog.