The controversial move to allow professional boxers compete at this year's Rio Olympics has now become a reality as two fighters have successfully taken advantage today of the qualifying tournament in Venezuela. Recently we spoke on how an amateur boxer beat a pro fighter at the qualifying event in Venezuela but today, two professionals turned the tables to go through…
Boxing in Olympics 2016: 10 Fighters To Watch Out For
With boxing in Olympics 2016 now only less than a week away, we look at some of the most exciting boxers hoping to ignite the world stage.
Boxing in Olympics 2016
Olympic gold is often an athlete’s main career objective and can kick start a pursuit in the professional game, making boxing in Olympics 2016 all the more of a motivation for many fighters looking to turn pro after this year’s games.
Recent Gold medallists have gone on to achieve superstar status in the paid ranks with Anthony Joshua and Vasyl Lomachenko paving the way in recent times.
This year’s event will be of particular interest to boxing fans as a number of measures and rule changes have been undertaken to provide a similar feel to professional boxing, with the World Series Of Boxing coverage and the decision to allow professional fighters into the games in Rio 2016, making it one of the most anticipated amateur events of recent times.
Here is a list of ‘ones to watch’ in a jam packed schedule of boxing starting in the next week.
Patrick Barnes – Light Flyweight – Northern Ireland
‘Paddy’ Barnes is an Irish amateur boxer from Belfast competing in the 49KG light-flyweight division. Paddy looks to finally secure the gold medal and is expected to be the bookies choice for his division.
The 29 year old has won bronze in the last two attempts in Beijing and London and the double commonwealth champion will leave everything in the ring in what is expected to be his last appearance at an Olympic games.
A gold medal will raise his stock and could contribute to the decision to turn professional.
Julio Cesar La Cruz – Light Heavyweight – Cuba
The Cuban light-heavyweight boxer in the 81KG division will look to improve on his performance in the 2012 London Olympics where he suffered an upset that saw him lose against Brazilian Falcao Florentino in the quarter finals.
A gunshot wound in 2014 received in his hometown saw the talented 26 year old then retreat from action temporarily, only to return and win gold at the 2015 AIBA World Boxing Championships in Doha.
The exciting fighter carries the traditional Cuban style into these games and will impress in the new amateur format due to slick distance control and deliberate scoring punches led by a strong jab.
Lazaro Alvarez – Lightweight – Cuba
The second Cuban to feature is a southpaw lightweight 60kg boxer, awkward and technical with a huge reach for his division, Lazaro will look to add to his impressive gold haul which includes three world amateur golds.
Alvarez, with a victory over England’s Luke Campbell on his record in the 2011 World Championships, will hope to improve on his 2012 bronze medal where he lost to the excellent Irish boxer John Joe Nevin 14-19.
Coming off the back of an excellent 2015 Lazaro will be disappointed with anything but the top spot.
Claressa Shields – Middleweight – USA
In an American team disappointed with the amount of boxers who are to compete at these years’ games, 21 year old Claressa is the stand out American fighter.
Having won gold at the London 2012 Olympics at the tender age of 17 she became the first American to win a women’s boxing gold medal making her way into the history books.
Having not lost a match since and taking with her a 48 fight win streak, Claressa is a hot favourite for gold in this year’s tournament.
An exciting boxer with knockout power in both hands, Claressa is expected to excel in the middleweight division.
Mohammed Rabii – Welterweight – Morocco
The 69kg fighter hailing from Morocco is one of his country’s finest amateur stars being the first Moroccan to win the World Amateur Championships in 2015.
An excellent year in the popular World Series of Boxing has seen him awarded ‘Boxer Of The Season’ for 2015 voted by the formats large online audience, after seven consecutive convincing victories.
The 22 year old has built a large following due to his exciting style that looks built for the professional game potentially after this Olympics.
Filip Hrgovic – Super Heavyweight – Croatia
The young Croatian big man has sparred with some of the top names in professional boxing, reportedly holding his own and being responsible for cancelling the 2013 David Haye vs Tyson Fury fight by causing a deep cut to Haye after a particularly intense sparring session.
The most successful super-heavyweight in the World Series Of Boxing with 20 wins in the competition, he will be a dominant force in a highly competitive division.
Potential mouth-watering match ups against GB’s Joe Joyce and France’s Tony Yoka will be ones to look out for.
Clemente Russo – Heavyweight – Italy
The 34 year old and two time World Amateur Gold medallist will aim to better his previous Olympic records of two silver medals achieved in Beijing and London and is an exciting prospect with a unorthodox style.
The Italian has achieved superstar status in his home country after becoming two-time amateur world champion and carries knockout power into the games.
At possibly his last shot of Olympic gold, Clemente will entertain with a low guard and a raging bull style attitude.
Galal Yafai – Light Flyweight – GB
The younger brother of hot professional prospects Khalid and Gamal Yafai who are proving to be a force in theprofessional game, Galal for many was a surprise addition to the Team GB talent and had to go the long way to achieve qualification with a series of drawn out qualification campaigns.
Team GB have a raft of talent and are expected to bring home multiple medals this year, however Galal Yafai will be an interesting addition to watch.
After drifting in and out of the sport at a young age and not achieving the same level (yet) as his brothers before him, the 23 year old now looks fully dedicated and set to reach his potential in this year’s games.
Lu Bin – China
With Chinese hero and two-time Gold medallist Zou Shiming not competing in this year’s games, a new light has appeared in the Chinese amateur ranks in 21 year old Lu Bin.
He will aim to build on an exceptional 18 months after securing and defending the APB Light Flyweight Championship.
With lightning fast hands and a dynamic style, expect Lu to dominate opponents in the early rounds of the tournament at 21 and from a country developing a taste for amateur boxing, the talented fighter could return to his homeland as a superstar and then go on to join Shiming’s footsteps in the professional ranks.
Katie Taylor – Lightweight – Ireland
A true national icon and Irish, European, World and Olympic champion Katie is a leading light in boxing.
At 30 years old this could potentially be her last showing in the Olympic games, despite a difficult run into the Olympics with a shock semi-final defeat in this year’s World Amateur Championship, Katie is hotly tipped to take the honours in Rio.
With excellent fundamentals and a true boxing brain, Katie is an inspiration to all up and coming fighters and an exciting watch for any fans of the sport full stop.