SHEFFIELD, ENGLAND - JUNE 11: Anthony Ogogo, Anthony Joshua, Josh Taylor, Fred Evans, Luke Campbell, Tom Stalker and Andrew Selby of Great Britain pose for a portrait during the announcement of the Team GB Boxing athletes for the London 2012 Olympic Games at the English Institute of Sport on June 11, 2012 in Sheffield, England (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
Matt Mosley is back with a look at Team Great Britain boxing, the home favorites at this year's Olympic games in London. For Matt's profiles on Team USA, click here.
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Between 1968 and 2000 Great Britain had no Olympic gold medal winners to speak of. Then came Audley Harrison.
Say what you will (and most don't have much good to say) about Audley, but he was the start of a successful era of British amateurs, with David Haye (2001 World Championships silver), Carl Froch (2001 World Championships bronze), Amir Khan (2004 Olympic silver), Frankie Gavin (first ever Brit to win World Championships gold - 2007), James DeGale (2008 Olympic gold) and David Price (2008 Olympic bronze) all achieving notable measures of success at the highest level, with most going on to have successful professional careers.
Following on from those names come Anthony Joshua, Luke Campbell and Andrew Selby, who each took home a silver medal from last years World Championships in Azerbaijhan.
Here is a closer look at those three boxers, along with the others who have qualified to represent the G.B. mens squad in London.
Anthony Joshua (England)
22, Super Heavyweight - over 201lbs/91kgs
One of Team GB's major hopes for glory in London, Joshua exploded onto the scene at last October's World Championships when coming within one point (22-21) of beating the gold medal winner Magomed Medzhidov of Azerbaijhan in the final. Ranked a lowly no.46 in the world going into that tournament, he even managed to beat the reigning Olympic Champion and long-time great amateur super heavyweight Roberto Cammarelle of Italy in the quarter final.
Anthony started boxing only four years ago at 18 and, as well as being talented and powerful, he is exciting to watch and not afraid to stand toe to toe. He stopped three of his six World Championship's opponents on the way to the final. So far his chin has held up quite well, but the fact that he can be drawn into a brawl could be to his detriment.
In front of his home crowd (he is a Londoner) he is expected by many to shine bright and go one further than he did in his last major tournament, by winning the gold medal.
However ,he is in a tough division, with Medzhidov and Cammarelle the main threats.
Joshua has recently stated that he is in no rush to turn pro, whatever happens in London, despite already having recieved numerous offers from promoters.
At his young age he could even afford to hang around in the amateurs until the next Olympics in four years if he wanted to, as many modern day pro heavyweights often peak in their 30's, so he really can afford to take his time and weigh up his options. He also mentioned that he wouldn't mind having another crack at World Championship gold. The next World's takes place in April of next year, so my guess is that he will probably turn over after competing there.
AIBA ranking: No. 3 of 41.
Prediction: Gold medal, but I don't see it coming easily. Medzhidov is a real tough guy and Cammarelle has done it all already, plus there are other danger men in this weight class, like Erislandy Savon of Cuba, nephew of one of the greatest amateurs ever, Felix Savon.
Anthony Ogogo (England)
23, Middleweight - 165lbs/75kgs
A former participant of reality tv show Big Brother, Ogogo is the 2010 Commonwealth Games silver medalist but may be a little bit out of his depth here and is relatively untested against the world's very best. The three clear standouts in his division are Evhen Khytrov of Ukraine and Ryoto Murata of Japan, who faced off in the World's final, with Khytrov winning 24-22 and Abbos Atoev of Uzbekistan who is a former World Champion at both middleweight (2009) and light heavyweight (2007). Darren O'Neill of Ireland would also be a tough opponent to overcome.
For inspiration Ogogo only has to look to his countryman James DeGale, who was a 50-1 outsider in this division at the Beijing Games four years ago, yet came away with the gold.
AIBA ranking: Unranked
Prediction: Quarter finals.
Freddie Evans (Wales)
20, Welterweight - 152lbs/69kgs
I mentioned in my previous articles that I like the look of Evans. He's a smooth boxer who fires off quick, accurate combinations, can fight going forward or back, and i think he will make for a good professional fighter should he decide to turn over. The 2011 European Champion, he was eliminated at the quarter final stage at the 2011 World's in Baku, Azerbaijhan, after the referee stopped his contest with Egidijus Kavaliauskas of Lithuania. Him getting to that stage was enough for him to qualify for these Olympics.
Considering his age, Evans is only likely to improve on the success he has already built, and most were surprised to see him eliminated from the World's without getting into the medals.
He's in a fairly strong division with the likes of Serik Sapiev of Kazahkstan, Taras Shelestyuk of Ukraine, the aforementioned Kavaliauskas, Krishan Vikas of India, Andrey Zamkovoy of Russia and Errol Spence of the USA, and will need be in peak form to make it onto the podium, but i think he is certainly capable of doing so.
AIBA ranking: No. 2 of 40.
Prediction: Bronze medal.
Tom Stalker (England)
28, Light Welterweight - 141lbs/64kgs
Stalker is the No. 1 ranked fighter in the world in his weight class, but I just don't see anything all that special in him to deserve such status, from what I saw in Baku or on YouTube clips. Don't get me wrong, he wouldn't be ranked that highly if he wasn't a world class amateur, but when I compare him to the likes of Denis Berinchyk (who beat Stalker 31-18 in the World's semi final) or Everton Lopes, the World Amateur Champion, I really don't see him beating either of them in London.
Stalker is a stand up fighter in the old fashioned European style. He has a good jab but just seems to do everything OK, yet nothing really exceptional.
Saying all that, he is a two time European silver medalist, and a Commonwealth Games gold medal winner to go along with his World's bronze, so he has proved that he belongs in the upper echelons. I am not keen on his style, but it certainly seems to be effective.
I hope he proves me wrong and does better than I expect but i think he will do well to reach the last four.
Aside from Berinchyk and Lopes, the men who pose the most danger in this division are 2009 World Champion and 2008 Olympic bronze medalist, Rosniel Iglesias Sotolongo of Cuba (who went out in the first round of the World's on a countback after drawing 19-19 with Berinchyk) and the Italian, Vicenzo Mangiacapre, who lost to Lopes in the World's semi final and is ranked No. 4 by the AIBA.
AIBA ranking: No. 1 of 32
Prediction: Bronze medal at best.
Josh Taylor (Scotland)
21, Lightweight - 132lbs/60kgs
The first Scottish lightweight to represent Great Britain at the Games since Dick McTaggart won the bronze in Rome in 1960 (McTaggart also won the gold medal in Melbourne in 1956), southpaw Taylor is one of the least experienced of the GB squad at international level, although he did win a Commonwealth Games silver medal in 2010, losing to Thomas Stalker in the final (11-3).
Along with Anthony Ogogo, he secured his Olympic berth by way of the final qualifying event in Trabzon, Turkey, in April.
I can't say I know all that much about Taylor, but McTaggart is quite vocal in his praise for him and gives him a shot at bringing home a medal, however he will likely be a big underdog in what is a very tough weight class.
AIBA ranking: Unranked
Prediction: Early rounds exit.
Luke Campbell (England)
24, Bantamweight - 123lbs/56kgs
Another G.B. fighter with a serious shot at getting in the medals, Campbell is a stylish boxer who moves well, keeps a high guard and is not short on skills. He is also able to fight going forward or back, but seems most adept when countering. He is clearly one of the very best in his division, the 2008 European champion and 2011 World Championship silver medalist, and will certainly be looking to go one better than he did at the World's.
The men he will be most wary are Cuba's Lazaro Alvarez, who beat Campbell 14-10 in the World's final, current AIBA world no.1 Anvar Yunusov of Tajikistan, John Joe Nevin of Ireland, who lost to Campbell on a countback in the World's semis (12-12), and Joseph Diaz of the USA.
AIBA ranking: No. 3 of 27
Prediction: Silver medal. I think he can match his World's accomplishment but if he runs into Alvarez again, it will be very tough for him to progress. Unlike Joshua and Selby in their finals, Alvarez always looked to me to be one step ahead of Campbell in his. Campbell is very good but Alvarez is better I think.
Andrew Selby (Wales)
23, Flyweight - 114lbs/52kgs
It's hard to say who I think has the better chance at gold in London, Selby or Anthony Joshua. Both are young and talented, and both came within one point of winning the World's gold medal. In Selby's case he lost in the final to Russia's Misha Aloyan in a very close fight (13-12). Since then he has moved into the AIBA world no.1 spot at flyweight, ahead of Aloyan. I suppose when comparing their abilities the one major advantage Joshua has is that he is more likely to KO guys.
Selby and Aloyan are similar in styles and i see it being almost too close to call once again between the two, should they meet, however, Selby has stated that the main thing he needs to do next time is to start faster against the Russian and not let him get too comfortable.
Between these two and Rau'shee Warren of the USA, it really is hard to say who will come away from London as the Olympic champion. Aloyan's fight with Warren in the World's semi final was also a close affair (17-13) and Selby will know he has taken out one of his main rivals should he beat one or both of them.
Along with Aloyan and Warren, Jasurbek Latipov of Uzbekistan, Vicenzo Picardi of Italy, Elvin Mamishzade of Azerbaijan and Ireland's Michael Conlon, who came within one point of besting Selby in the World's quarter final (25-24), are the men to look out for.
AIBA ranking: No. 1 of 35
Prediction: As a fellow Brit how can I say anything other than the gold medal? That's not blind patriotism though. Selby is the real deal, and has already proven that he is one of the world's elite fighters, regardless of weight. On home soil I'm sure he will be spurred on all the more.
Olympics or World's - Which is harder to win?
No achievement in amateur boxing carries more prestige than winning an Olympic gold medal, especially for those who are looking to embark on a successful and lucrative pro career. That medal can earn them massive amounts of money very early on in their careers, and with it comes a lot of pressure and expectation.
The World Championships gold medal is equally as important and hard to acquire, if not more so, though is not seen as being quite as prestigious a trophy to take into the pros.
It has been said that the World's is a tougher tournament though. Both competitions last just over two weeks, but in the Olympics there are five rounds for a fighter to get through. In the World's there are six.
Ranking the Great Britain Team
Here's how I rank the chances of the fighters on this team to medal:
1/ Anthony Joshua
2/ Andrew Selby
3/ Luke Campbell
4/ Freddie Evans
5/ Tom Stalker
6/ Anthony Agogo
7/ Josh Taylor
Ranking the Divisions (including average UK odds to win gold)
1/ Lightweight: Vasyl Lomachenko (Ukraine) 1/2, Domenico Valentino (Italy) 8/1, Yasniel Toledo Lopez (Cuba) 7/2, Robson Conceicao (Brazil) 40/1, Jose Ramirez (USA) 66/1, Josh Taylor (Scotland) 33/1.
2/ Flyweight: Misha Aloyan (Russia) 2/1, Andrew Selby (Great Britain) 5/2, Rau'shee Warren (USA) 8/1, Jasurbek Latipov (Uzbekistan) 10/1, Elvin Mamishzade (Azerbaijhan), 7/1.
3/ Bantamweight: Lazaro Alvarez (Cuba) 2/1, Luke Campbell (Great Britain) 4/1, Anvar Yunusov (Tajikistan) 3/1, John Joe Nevin (Ireland) 8/1, Joseph Diaz (USA) 14/1.
4/ Super Heavyweight: Magomedrasul Medzhidov (Azerbaijhan) 5/2, Anthony Joshua (Great Britain), 2/1 Roberto Cammarelle (Italy) 9/2, Erislandy Savon (Cuba) 5/1, Ivan Dychko (Kazahkstan) 11/1.
5/ Light Welterweight: Everton Lopes (Brazil) 5/2, Denis Berinchyk (Ukraine) 7/2, Rosniel Iglesias Sotolongo (Cuba) 8/1, Thomas Stalker (Great Britain) 5/1,
Vicenzo Mangiacapre (Italy), 10/1.
6/ Welterweight: Serik Sapiev (Kazahkstan) 3/1, Taras Shelestyuk (Ukraine) 7/4, Freddie Evans (Great Britain) 14/1, Errol Spence (USA) 33/1, Egidijus Kavaliauskas (Lithuania) 10/1, Andrey Zamkovoy (Russia) 6/1 Krishnan Vikas (India) 6/1.
7/ Light Flyweight: Shiming Zou (China) 11/8, Jonghun Shin (South Korea) 9/4, David Ayrapetyan (Russia) 6/1, Serdamba Purevdorj (Mongolia) 12/1, Paddy Barnes (Ireland) 20/1.
8/ Heavyweight: Oleksandr Usyk (Ukraine) 5/2, Artur Beterbiev (Russia) 15/2, Teymur Mammadov (Azerbaijan) 5/2, Clemente Russo (Italy) 5/1, Xuanxuan Wang (China) 7/1, Jose Larduet (Cuba) 12/1, Michael Hunter (USA) 50/1.
9/ Middleweight: Evhen Khytrov (Ukraine) 6/4, Ryota Murata (Japan) 3/1, Abbos Atoev (Uzbekistan) 8/1, Darren O'Neill (Ireland) 12/1, Terrell Gausha (USA) 40/1
10/ Light Heavyweight: Julio Cesar de la Cruz Peraza (Cuba) 6/4, Adibek Niyazymbetov (Kazakhstan) 9/1, Damien Hooper (Australia) 6/1, Egor Mekhontsev (Russia) 2/1, Adilbek Niyazymbetov (Kazahkstan) 9/1, Fanlong Meng (China) 10/1, Marcus Browne (USA) 33/1.