Baku, June 16, AZERTAC
Chants of "Ali, Ali, Ali" reverberated around the Crystal Hall when the British boxer of the same name as the US legend took to the ring on Tuesday, but it was the Turkish lightweight (60kg) Yasin Yilmaz who was the most popular winner in the Baku 2015 opening session.
Yilmaz was also the first fighter to bring about a swift end to a contest, when he stopped Germany's Atdhe Gashi after catching him with a right hand flush on the chin in the opening round.
Muhammad Ali, the 2014 World Youth Championships bronze medalist, was a convincing winner, but if the great man had been in his corner he might have advised the flyweight to use his long reach more against Moldova's Alexandr Riscan. Instead he became embroiled in some slightly reckless close-quarter work.
Ali admitted he had been lifted by the crowd's reaction: "I could hear that (the crowd chanting 'Ali, Ali, Ali'). It felt quite good."
More impressive winners in the flyweight (52kg) class were the skilful Hungarian Nandor Csoka, who beat Poland's Maciej Jozwik unanimously on points, and the Irishman Myles Casey, who comfortably outboxed Ivan Fihurenka of Belarus.
Casey now has the challenge of overcoming no.1 seed and home favourite Elvin Mamishzada in the round of 16, while Ali faces the no.2 seed Vincenzo Picardi of Italy.
The Hungarians and the Irish each had two winners in the session. Heavyweights Adam Hamori and 29-year-old veteran Darren O'Neill both won unanimously on points.