Belgium’s Defline Persoon, who returned to amateur boxing so she could compete in Tokyo 2020, has lost her opening bout in the European qualifying tournament in London to Nikoleta Peta.
One of the most successful women’s professional boxers of recent years — Persoon narrowly lost her professional world title to Katie Taylor last June — she will have another opportunity to qualify in Paris in May.
Elsewhere on the first day of the qualifying tournament, British lightweight Caroline Dubois won the first fight of her senior career against Belarus’ Ala Staradub.
The 19-year-old Londoner, an unbeaten junior world and Olympic champion, outpointed Staradub of Belarus in the opening bout at the Copper Box near London’s 2012 Olympic stadium.
The event, involving 342 male and female boxers from 43 countries with 77 Olympic spots available, remains on despite most other sport in Europe being cancelled due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Boxers from countries like Italy, the worst affected by the outbreak in Europe, have been in Britain for several weeks.
Dubois, whose 10 siblings include unbeaten professional heavyweight Daniel Dubois, has a tougher next fight against 2016 Olympic bronze medallist and top seed Mira Potkonen.
“It was an alright fight, I’ll give it a C, I could have done a lot better but obviously there was a lot of pressure that was built up,” Dubois said.
“Even though Mira is number one seed, she has only got two hands, two legs and one brain. If I can’t beat her, I can’t ever say I will be the best.”
The highlight of the evening programme will be the super-heavyweight clash between Italian Clemente Russo and Britain’s Frazer Clarke.
Russo, still battling on at 37, is a double world champion and 2008 and 2012 Olympic silver medallist, beating future American heavyweight world champion Deontay Wilder at the Beijing Games.
Clarke, 28, is a former sparring partner of professional heavyweight world champion Anthony Joshua.
The Briton is making his third attempt to qualify for a Games after losing out to eventual gold medallist Joshua in 2012 and Joe Joyce in 2016.