Five gold medalists have been crowned already, and another eight Olympic champions will be crowned this weekend in Tokyo. Saturday will feature the most exciting action fighter of the games and the final of an excellent flyweight tournament. On Sunday, we will be treated to a rematch of two of the finest talents in amateur boxing in the lightweight final and Richard Torrez defying the odds against overwhelming favorite Bakhodir Jalolov in the super heavyweight final.
Saturday, 1am EST:
Men’s Flyweight final: Carlo Paalam (Philipines) vs Ghalal Yafai (Great Britain).
Each fighter upset a gold medal favorite in the quarterfinals, Paalam beat Uzbekistan’s reigning world and Olympic champion Shakobidin Zoirov in the while Yafai defeated Cuba’s former world champion Yosvany Veitia. Paalam drew Zoirov and did a brilliant job punishing him with his right straight on the way in. Yafai force Veitia (and every other opponent) into a high paced fight where he could overwhelm him with his quick hands and high volume at mid range. This should make for a very interesting final. The key will be whether Paalam is able to prevent Yafai from getting close enough to fire off his quick combinations and punish him with his right straight when he comes in. He’s shown the ability to do that against an aggressive southpaw in his semi final against Japan’s Ryomei Tanaka, but Yafai has faster hands and better head movement than Tanaka. I am slightly favoring the Filipino in what should be a very entertaining fight and proper final for what has been the most exciting weight class in these games.
Women’s flyweight final: Buse Naz Çakıroğlu (Turkey) vs Stoyka Krasteva (Bulgaria)
Two world silver medalists meet in the final, Çakıroğlu made the finals of the 2019 world championships while Krasteva earned silver medals at bantamweight in 2016 and 2018. Çakıroğlu defeated 2019 bantamweight champion Huang Hsiao-wen in the semi finals. She relies on a movement heavy hit and run strategy where she darts in and out of range with 1-2s. Krasteva’s 1-2 is also her bread and butter, though she uses it as counter in mid range. Neither is particularly adept on the inside so their fight should be fought at long range where I’m leaning towards the movement and youth of the Tukish fighter to nick a decision with more eye catching shots.
Men’s middleweight final: Oleksandr Khyznhiak (Ukraine) vs Hebert Conceição (Brazil)
2017 world champion Khyznhiak has been one of the most exciting fighters to watch in the games. He is a relentless pressure fighter and won an absolute war with the Philippines Eumir Marcial in the semi finals. 2019 world bronze medalist Hebert Conceição defeated world champion Gleb Bakshi and world silver medalist Abilkhan Amankul on his way to the finals. He’s a very well rounded boxer puncher, comfortable fighting in both the southpaw and orthodox stance. He can box and handle himself on the inside but given how often Bakshi was able to back him to the ropes I don’t see him being able to handle Khyznhiak’s pressure. The Ukrainian will get take some punches on the way but should leave the ring with Olympic gold.
Women’s welterweight final: Busenaz Sürmeneli (Turkey) vs Gu Hong (China)
Reigning world champion Sürmeneli meets two time world silver medalist Gu Hong in the welterweight finals. Sürmeneli is an aggressive pressure fighter, she can be a bit inaccurate with her right hand at times and fall into clinches but she has some very good moments of inside work. Hong is an outside boxer relying mostly on her jab but I think she lacks the power to make it a really dissuasive weapon for a pressure fighter as committed as Sürmeneli.
Sunday, 1am EST
Women’s lightweight final: Kellie Harrington (Ireland) vs Beatriz Ferreira (Brazil)
Without much surprise, the 2018 and 2019 lightweight world champions find themselves in the final. Kellie Harrington cruised through the early rounds until a closely contested outside fight with two time world medalist Sudaporn Seesondee. Ferreira didn’t have much trouble making her way to the final, with her stiffest competition being world bronze medalist Mira Potkonen in the semi. Ferreira likes to trade in long exchanges in the middle of the ring while Harrington is an excellent outside fighter. Harrington’s size advantage and experience gives her the edge in the match up for me.
Men’s lightweight final: Keyshawn Davis (USA) vs Andy Cruz (Cuba)
This rematch of the 2019 world final is in my opinion the best final in these Olympic games. Cruz is a two-time world champion and the pound for pound best amateur fighter in the world and Davis is a fantastic prospect and looks like a potential star in the pros. Davis defeated former world champion and Olympic silver medalist Sofiane Oumiha and two time world bronze medalist Hovhannes Bachkov to make the final. Cruz had a relatively easier draw, with Brazil’s Wanderson Oliveira as his stiffest competition and an overmatched opponent that wouldn’t have been there if it wasn’t for a very lucky draw. Both looked in top form over the tournament and the bout should be a great fight between two very slick technicians. In their first fight Davis kept the fight close with his jab but struggled to build up his offense on it. Davis was just 20 then and has improved a lot since. His right hand looked excellent in the tournament, especially the one he landed on Oumiha and that led to the stoppage of the fight. This should be a fascinating technical and tactical battle and if it is as good as I hope, the winner should be the leading contender for the Val Barker trophy which rewards the best boxer of the Olympic games.
Women’s middleweight final: Lauren Price (Great Britain) vs Li Qian (China)
I will be honest: this is not quite as exciting as Cruz vs Davis. The women’s middleweight division wasn’t very good in the first place and the addition of welterweight to these games has depleted it even more. Price is the reigning world champion and Qian the 2018 world champion. Price is very short for the division at 5’6” but capitalizes on her speed advantage to implement a stick and move strategy based on a quick 1-2, which she did pretty well in her semi final against the much taller multi time world medalist Nouchka Fontjin. Qian’s semi was a dreadful clinch fest against Zemfira Magomedalieva. She’s a fairly standard fighter using her height and her jab to control fight. I like Price’s game a little more but it will be hard to overcome the size advantage of the 5’11” Chinese fighter.
Men’s super heavyweight final: Bakhodir Jalolov (Uzbekistan) vs Richard Torrez (USA)
Torrez had a great run in these games, he avenged an earlier loss to Cuba’s Dainier Pero and upset two time world silver medalist and 2016 Olympic bronze medalist in the semi finals. But the Cinderella run likely ends against reigning world champion Bakhodir Jalolov. Jalolov is a 6’7” who is extremely fast and agile for a man his size, his arsenal consists mostly of his jab and left hand but he rarely needs anything else. The two met previously and Jalolov brutally knocked out Torrez. Torrez is a good fighter and at just 22 will improve a lot in the future. But Jalolov is five inches taller, more technically polished and even with his size advantage, probably a bit faster too. Torrez did great to make the finals but Jalolov should prove too tall a mountain to climb.