By John Mehaffey
LONDON (Reuters) - Ukrainian lightweight Vasyl Lomachenko, who has been dubbed the best pound-for-pound fighter in the amateur ranks, did no more than he needed to advance to the semi-finals of the Olympic boxing competition on Monday.
The 2008 Beijing Olympic featherweight champion defeated Puerto Rican Felix Verdejo 14-9 in the first quarter-final of the evening, advancing throughout the three rounds and scoring to both the head and body.
Lomachenko, a world and European champion who presents a tiny Ukrainian flag to each of his opponents before his bouts, lives in the ancient fortress town of Bilhorod-Dnistrovsky near Odessa.
He is an ice hockey fanatic who is coached by his father Anatoly, a physical education school teacher, and won his first Ukrainian championship at the age of 17 after resolving when he was six years old that he wanted to be an Olympic champion.
Cuban Yasnier Toledo, a world silver medallist, beat Kazakhstan's Gani Zhailauov 19-11 and Evaldas Petrauskas of Lithuania overcame Italian Domenico Valentino despite losing points after receiving two warnings.
Valentino, a former world champion, has joined the International Boxing Association's (AIBA) professional ranks.
Currently professionals who are not affiliated with the AIBA are not allowed to take part in the Olympics.
The diminutive Petrauskas flexed his biceps for reporters later and revealed his burning ambition.
"My hero is Mike Tyson. I'm really hoping to be as powerful as him one day and achieve what he achieved," he said.
"The guy (Valentino) was pretty quick so I was trying to go forward, kill his strategy and not allow him to do anything, not allow him to fight."
In the last quarter-final, South Korean Han Soon-chul defeated Uzbekistan's Fazlidden Gaibnazarov 16-13.
(Editing by Jason Neely)