The Olympic games are just 10 days away. Spanning 2 weeks and featuring 286 boxers, the Olympic boxing tournament is one of the biggest combat sports competitions in the world. Amateur boxing is undergoing changes as the women will make their Olympic debut and the new AIBA scoring system will be used for the first and last time at the Olympics
The new scoring system was used at the last World Championships and uses 5 judges scoring the bout using scoring machines (clean hit with the knuckle part of the gloves = 1point), the two extreme scorecards are cut out and an average of the three middle scorecards is used to determine each boxer's score, in case of a tie the boxer winning on the most scorecards is declared the winner. This scoring system and headgear will be abandoned after these Olympics in favor of the 10 point must system.
AIBA has experimented with this using the newly created "semi pro" league: World Series of Boxing. The WSB features franchises regrouping amateur boxers in team based competition, the fights are 5 rounds, scored under the 10 point must system and boxers don't wear headgear. 5 qualifications to these Olympics were earned through the WSB, and a fair number of boxers competing in the Olympics have fought in the WSB during the past 2 years. Following this success the AIBA has announced that it will create a pro league allowing top level amateurs the opportunity to earn a living with boxing while still being able to compete in the Olympics.
Going back to the Olympic tournament, first up on July 28 will be the bantamweight division (56 kg). Join me after the jump for a look at the weight class.
Alberto Ezequiel Melian (Argentina)
Ibrahim Mitat Balla (Australia)
Magomed Abdulhamidov (Azerbaidjan)
Robenilson Vieira De Jesus (Brazil)
Detelin Dalakliev (Bulgaria)
Lazaro Alvarez Estrada (Cuba)
Denis Ceylan (Denmark)
Wiliam Encarnacion Alcantara (Dominican Republic)
Braexir Romeo Lemboumba (Gabon)
Merab Turkadze (Georgia)
Isaac Dogboe (Ghana)
Kanat Abutalipov (Kazahkstan)
Oscar Rafael Valdez Fierro (Mexico)
Aboubakr Seddik Lbida (Morocco)
Jonas Nghilandemwenyo Matheus (Namibia)
Ayabonga Sonjica (South Africa)
Wessam Slamana (Syria)
Pavlo Ischenko (Ukraine)
AIBA's Top 10 rankings:
1: Anvar Yunusov (Tajikistan)
2: Lazaro Alvarez Estrada (Cuba)
3: Luke Campbell (Great Britain)
4: John Joseph Nevin (Ireland)
5: Mohamed Amine Ouadahi (Algeria)
6: Veaceslav Gojan (Moldova, won't take part in the Olympics)
7: Detelin Dalakliev (Bulgaria)
8: Otgondalai Dornjyambuu (Mongolia, won't take part in the Olympics)
9: Bruno Julie (Mauritius, won't take part in the Olympics)
10: Dmitry Polyanskiy (Russia, won't take part in the Olympics)
2008 Olympics Results (57kg):
Gold: Vasyl Lomachenko (Ukraine)
Silver: Khedafi Djelkhir (France)
Bronze: Yakup Kilic (Turkey) / Shakim Imranov (Azerbaidjan)
2009 World Championships results (54kg):
Gold: Detelin Dalakliev (Bulgaria)
Silver: Eduard Abzalimov (Russia)
Bronze: John Joseph Nevin (Ireland) / Yankiel Leon Alarcon (Cuba)
2009 World Championships results (57kg):
Gold: Vasyl Lomachenko (Ukraine)
Silver: Sergey Vodopiyanov (Russia)
Bronze: Bahodirjon Sultonov (Uzbekistan) / Oscar Rafael Valdez Fierro (Mexico)
2011 World Championships results:
Gold: Lazaro Alvarez Estrada (Cuba)
Silver: Luke Campbell (England)
Bronze: Anvar Yunusov (Tajikistan) / John Joseph Nevin (Ireland)
N°2 ranked Lazaro Alvarez Estrada has to be considered the favorite to win gold in this category. The 21 year old Cuban southpaw made a statement last october by winning the World Championships, beating 4 of this year's Olympians, all ranked in the top 20, including the current n°1 and n°3. His length, footwork and his quick and accurate left straight should carry him to a gold medal in his first Olympics.
Lazaro Alvarez vs Luke Campbell 2011 World Championships Final:
N°3 ranked Luke Campbell took silver at the last world championships, upsetting then n°1 Detelin Dalakliev in the quarterfinals and beating current n°4 and n°5 ranked John Joseph Nevin and Mohamed Ouadahi. His size, sound fundamentals and very good control of distance will make him a tall order for anyone in these games and give him a very good shot at winning gold in front of his homecountry.
Luke Campbell vs Detelin Dalakliev 2011 World Championships Quarterfinal:
The n°1 ranked Anvar Yunusov took 5th place in the Beijing Olympics, since then he's won the 2011 Asian Confederation Championship, beating n°8 ranked Otgondalai Dornjyambuu in the finals and took bronze in the 2011 World Championships, defeating then n°3 Sergey Vodopiyanov in the quarterfinals before losing to eventual winner Lazaro Alvarez Estrada in the semis. He's compiled a 4-1 (loss avenged) record in the second season of the World Series of Boxing and won the Governor's Cup in St Petersburg in May, besting Italian Olympian Jahyn Vittorio Parrinello in the finals. His shoulder roll and counter striking skills should ensure him at least a place on the podium if not Gold although I think that Alvarez is a bad matchup for him and I suspect that Campbell might be too.
Anvar Yunusov vs Sergey Vodipiyanov 2011 World Championships Quarterfinal:
Keep an eye out for:
N°7 ranked Detelin Dalakliev, the 2009 World Champion has never been to the Olympics and at 29 years old this year might be his only shot at Olympic glory.
At just 23 years old, Ireland's John Joe Nevin is already a 2 time Bronze medalist at the World Championships. He lost a very close decision to Luke Campbell in the 2011 World Championships and will be looking to make an impact for his second time in the Olympic games.
The former 2007 World Champion and 2009 silver medalist, Sergey Vodopiyanov appears to have slowed down a bit in recent years but is still fairly young considering his experience at 24 years old.
18 year old Shiva Thapa (India) won Silver at the 2010 Youth World Championships and fairly easily won the Asian Qualifying event, along with 19 year old American Joseph Diaz (Worlds quarterfinalist, lost to eventual champion Lazaro Alvarez) he's the prospect to watch.
Overall, this is a very interesting division, the bantamweights should bring fast paced action and although there's a clear favorite, a lot of boxers have a legitimate shot at a medal.