Amateur Boxing: Taking a Look at the World's Best, Part 3

Brazil's Everton Lopes is rated the No. 2 light welterweight in the world. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

Want to get to know amateur boxing a little better? Matt Mosley is here to give you a look and some profile information about some of the world's best unpaid fighters. This is the final part of his three-part series.

This is the final installment of the series, where we take a look at the "Promising Prospects," boxers who are generally younger and less experienced than the ones detailed in Parts One and Two. However, they are similar to the "Intermediate" fighters, in that they have fought at the highest level already and could be at or close to their peaks as amateurs by the time the Olympics come around. Here are my picks on who to look out for.

[ Related: Part One and Part Two ]

PROMISING PROSPECTS

Anthony Joshua (England)
22, Super Heavyweight, AIBA World Ranking - No. 4

Joshua pretty much exploded onto the world scene this year when getting within one point of winning the World Championships against Magomedrasul Medzhidov of Azerbaijhan, who we covered in Part 1. Coming into the World's, Joshua was ranked a lowly no.46 by the AIBA, so some could see his performance at the Championships as somewhat fluky. While it's true that he sort of came out of nowhere as an international, what has to be taken into account is that he was the 2010 ABAE (English) Champion after only eighteen fights, he is still very young and relatively inexperienced, and he stopped three out of five of his opponents on the way to the silver medal. That many stoppages is pretty impressive in a World's tournament, i think, even for a super heavy. He also beat the reigning World and Olympic Champion, Roberto Cammarelle, in the quarter finals (15-13).

He is tall (6'6") , muscular, hard punching, and not afraid to stand and trade. His fight with Medzhidov in the final was quite a war. He is also skilled and uses his height to his advantage, sticking the jab out frequently. Personally (and i'm sure my national bias isn't creeping in here) i think he has as good a chance of anyone as winning the gold in London, and i'm certain he will be one of the favourites. My prediction is that he meets Cammarelle in the Olympic final. Joshua really impressed me at the World's.

Major Accomplishments
World Championships - Silver 2011
ABAE Champion - 2010

Chances of turning pro after London
I'm certain he will, unless he has a really disastrous tournament, then he may want to hang around, as he would still not be too old to turn pro at 27 after the 2016 Olympics.

That's highly unlikely though, and I'm sure Frank Warren and other British promoters will already be talking to him.

I'm certain he would have a good style for the pros (this guy is no Audley Harrison 2.0). He's athletic (he ran the 100m in 11 seconds at age 15), strong, powerful, seems to hold a shot pretty well, and has pretty solid technique and fundamentals.

One of the main reasons I like watching the amateurs is to follow fighters like Joshua coming through the ranks. He's one of my favourite amateur fighters, along with Vasyl Lomachenko, Roberto Cammarelle, Denis Berinchyk and Zou Shiming. Of course, it also helps that we're both British.

Joshua vs. Roberto Cammarelle - 2011 World's quarter final


Denis Berinchyk (Ukraine)
23, Light welterweight, AIBA World Ranking - No. 7

The commentators on BoxNation labelled Berinchyk as the best boxer of the recent World's and thought he overshadowed his countryman, Lomachenko. Even though he lost out on the gold medal, in a great fight, to the Brazilian, Everton Lopes, the final was controversial and some thought Berinchyk deserved the decision. Both fighter's were penalised numerous times for fouls but Lopes eventually came away with the decision by 26-23. Denis is an aggressive, pressure fighting, crowd pleasing type who likes to stand and trade and certainly looks like a star of the future, whether in the amateur or pro ranks. As mentioned in Part 2, he also beat the World-ranked No. 1 fighter at the weight, Tom Stalker of England, by a fairly wide margin (31-18) in the semi finals.

He was unranked by the AIBA before the World's, so that tells me he has either come from nowhere (relatively speaking), or that he has been sidelined for some reason. If it is the former, and he went on to almost win the gold as an unranked fighter on the world scene, he should be considered a favourite for the gold medal in London. The fact that he's representing the World's best amateur nation won't do him any harm either. He'll be getting excellent sparring and success tends to breed success.

Major Accomplishments
World Championships - Silver 2011

Chances of turning pro after London
His style should be more suited to the pros than the amateurs. He brings the heat, likes to get inside to work away to body and head and get involved in a tear up. It will be really interesting for me to see how all of these Ukrainians do in the pros, especially Berinchyk, Lomachenko, and to a slightly lesser degree, Oleksandr Usyk.
Once again, the Klitschko's should be considered the front runners to sign him up.

Berinchyk vs Tom Stalker - 2011 World's semi final


Everton Lopes (Brazil)
21, Light Welterweight, AIBA World Ranking - No. 2

Lopes made history when he became the first Brazilian ever to win a World Championships gold medal earlier this year. A skillful fighter who often looks to counter from mid range with his long arms, he can also fight hard on the inside when necessary and has quite a good dig to his punches. However, whether intentionally or not, he did commit a few low blows and other fouls in his finals win over Berinchyk. To be fair, they were both guilty of infractions, but Lopes was the worse offender, in my opinion.

Lopes is another fighter who could have ranked higher, in the "Intermediate" category, due to his accomplishments, but the fact that he is from a country not really known for amateur boxing success (he was ranked down at no.39 by the AIBA before his gold medal triumph) and that he is still young, means that he lands here. Also, i personally thought Berinchyk did enough to beat him in the World's final.

Major Accomplishments
World Championships - Gold 2011
Pan American Games - Silver 2007
South American Games - Silver 2010, Silver 2006

Chances of turning pro after London
Coming from Brazil, i have no idea what his promotional opportunities would be. He certainly won't have the kind of promoter down there that can give him the type of guidance that a Bob Arum or a Frank Warren would in the US or the UK. Good fighters have been produced by South American countries in the past, though, and have thrived in the pro game. He could always head up to the US as his pro career progressed. Whether his style would be suited to the pros, you can decide for yourself by watching the clip below.

Lopes vs Denis Berinchyk - 2011 World's final (I strongly recommend that you watch this fight. Round 3 especially is just great)


Joe Ward (Ireland)
18, Light Heavyweight, AIBA World Ranking - No. 3

Ward first came to my attention when I heard about him beating his countryman, 2008 Olympic Silver medallist and ten time Irish national champ, Kenny Egan, in the Irish ABA's, at only 17 years of age. Egan is a full grown man at 29 and has plenty of world class experience, so it was even more so impressive coming from one so young as Ward. Ward even managed to drop Egan in the final round, and went on to win 11-6.

Kenny Egan is a fine boxer in his own right, but it could be telling that he moved up to heavyweight not long after this fight. Maybe he was struggling with the weight, or maybe he saw something in Joe and preferred his chances of securing an Olympic berth better at the higher weight.

Saying this, if you watch the YouTube clip below, I think it shows Ward to still be a very raw fighter, and somewhat crude. He misses with a lot of his punches, and I actually thought Egan looked to be doing the better work most of the time in their fight.

Joe is the current European Champion, which he attained this summer just past. This is also very impressive for one so young. He went out in the second round of the World's as the result of a "countback" (when a bout is drawn and other criteria are used to determine a winner) but he'll be a bit more seasoned in 9 months time, and he could well get on to the medal podium in London.

Major Accomplishments
European Championships - Gold 2011
World Youth Championships - Gold 2010 (Middleweight), Gold 2009 (Light middleweight)

Chances of turning pro after London
He'll still be only 18 by the time of the Games so, unless he manages to win the gold, I really think he should stick around until the 2016 Olympics and develop his technique, learn his trade some more. As I said, he looks really raw at the moment and I hadn't seen any footage of him until watching the Egan clip, i'd only heard people saying good things. Maybe he would do OK in the pros, as he seems to look for the one big shot mostly, and does seem to have good power, but he doesn't really look to be very accurate with his shots or have a lot of method or slickness to what he's doing in there. Like I said though, he's still very young, and that could change . He will likely improve, and since he's winning major titles already, the future is quite likely bright for him.

Whether that future is destined for the pros or not remains to be seen.

Ward vs Kenny Egan (Ward is wearing the blue vest) - Irish ABA Finals


Freddie Evans (Wales)
20, Welterweight, AIBA World Ranking - No. 3

The current European Champion who qualified for the Olympics by reaching the quarter finals of the World's, which is the minimum requirement at that tournament. Doing what he's done so far at this age is quite impressive and his high world ranking is also somewhat unusual for a relative novice who has only been on the senior circuit for two or three years.

I like his style of boxing. He uses quite a lot of movement, bouncing up on his toes, and likes to let combinations go to body and head, utilizing a variety of punches. He is effective both on the counter an on the front foot. He has good defence, mostly keeping his hands high and bobbing and weaving a lot of the incoming shots. I didn't see his losing fight at the World's and there is no YouTube clip of it that I can find, but it is listed as "RSCH" which means the referee stopped the contest due to head injury, so I imagine he was either dazed from punches, or that he got cut.

Major Accomplishments
European Championships - Gold 2011

Chances of turning pro after London
I look forward to him eventually turning pro. Even though he's not all that big a puncher, he lets off a high volume of shots and avoids a lot of what comes his way. He has educated skills, for example, whipping uppercuts in when he sees the opportunity, and just has a pleasing style to watch in general.

Whether he will turn pro after London is obviously dependent on how well he does, but at his age, he could really hang around, at least until the next World's in two years, or even until the next Olympics, and he would still not really be too late, at 25, if he turned pro after the 2016 Games. He's got time on his hands, which is rarely a bad thing, and in his case, the longer he stays amateur, fighting at the highest international level, the better he sets himself up for a successful pro career, in my opinion.

Evans vs Zaal Kvachatadze - European Championships semi final


These are a selection of some of the best i have seen an/or researched, but there will possibly be one or two break out star performances from a relatively unknown fighter at the London Games. I remember having a few small wagers at the start of the 2008 Olympics and i clearly recall that James DeGale was an unbelievable (in hindsight) 50-1 to win the gold. I knew about him at the time through him boxing in the English ABA's and his fights with the likes of George Groves and Darren Sutherland, but i also remember him being a bit inconsistent and never would have thought to have backed him at those odds.

Other notable, proven fighters who could figure prominently in the medals tables:

Roniel Iglesias (Cuba)
23, Light Welterweight, World Ranking - No. 10
World Championships - Gold 2009
Olympics - Bronze 2008
Pan American Games - Gold 2011

Serik Sapiev (Kazakhstan)
28, Welterweight, World Ranking - No. 7
World Championships - Gold 2007, Gold 2005, Silver 2011, Bronze 2009

Evhen Krytov (Ukraine)
23, Middleweight, World Ranking - No. 1
World Championships - Gold 2011

Serdamba Purevdorj (Mongolia)
26, Light Flyweight, World Ranking - No. 10
World Championships - Gold 2009, Bronze 2011
Olympics - Silver 2008
Asian Championships - Gold 2007

This concludes our introduction series to the world's best amateurs. All the articles I post will be kept in the Amateur Boxing archive at the top left of the home page on this site, for future reference.

Next year I will do Top Ten pound for pound lists on the best from Europe, Continental America and maybe Asia and Australasia, depending on interest from everyone.

When we get much closer to the Games, I will put up team profiles of the USA and Great Britain squads to give you a guide for watching the Games live.

Thanks for reading.

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