London 2012 Olympics: Boxing Preview, Top Medalist Hopes From Around the World

Ukraine's Vasyl Lomachenko will look to win a second Olympic gold medal this year. (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)

Matt Mosley is back today with a look at some of the best fighters around the world. Related: Team USA Preview & Profiles / Team Great Britain Preview & Profiles.

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To conclude our Olympic boxing preview, here is a look at some of the boxers from around the world who I think have the best chances of success in London.

Ukraine

Vasyl Lomachenko
24, Lightweight

Olympic gold medal winner 2008. World Champion 2011 and 2009. Sliver medal 2007. European Champion 2008. Val Barker trophy (best boxer) 2008 Olympics,

I have covered Lomachenko quite extensively already, but for those new to the sport who haven't seen or heard of him, it's fair to say that he is the best amateur in the world at any weight class. Has not lost a single fight since 2007 (although some would say he was a bit lucky to get past Brazilian Robson Conceicao in the World's quarter final), so why the AIBA don't have him ranked No. 1 at lightweight only they can answer. I really hope that he turns pro after London, whatever happens. He's already won everything there is to win and more than proven his dominance in the unpaid ranks.

Cuba's Yasniel Toledo Lopez, who lost to Lomachenko 17-12 in the World's final, and the Italian, Domenico Valentino, are the men who have the best chance of unseating the Ukrainian.

AIBA world ranking - No. 2 of 40

Prediction: Gold medal.

Denis Berinchyk
24, Light Welterweight

Despite losing a close fight (26-23) in the final of the World Championships to Brazil's Everton Lopes, Berinchyk is one of my favourite amateur fighters. He has a crowd pleasing style, probably more suited to the pros, and keeps coming forward aggressively, picking his shots and attacking the body. I really like his chances of overturning the loss to Lopes, which, when considering that Lopes' was flopping around on the floor, trying to buy time, I thought he just about deserved to win anyway.

AIBA ranking - No. 7 of 32.

Prediction: Gold medal.

Oleksandr Usyk
25, Heavyweight

The current (2011) World Champion, who also won the bronze in 2009 and the 2008 European Championships, Usyk is the favourite to win his division with the bookies but will face some strong competition from the likes of Azerbaijan's Teymur Mammadov, who lost to Usyk in the World's final (25-15), current World Series of Boxing Heavyweight champion, Clemente Russo of Italy, and Artur Beterbiev of Russia.

AIBA ranking - No. 3 of 27.

Prediction - Gold medal.

Other Ukrainians to look out for: Ievgen Khytrov (2011 middleweight World Champion), Taras Shelestyuk (2011 welterweight World Champion), Oleksandr Gvosdyk (light heavyweight).

Brazil

Everton Lopes
22, Light Welterweight

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(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

The current World Champion and favourite to win gold in London, he's clearly skilled and can hit with respectable power, as he showed in stopping two of his opponents in the World's. What I didn't like about him in the final, where he beat Denis Berinchyk, was him regulalry dropping to the floor whenever Berinchyk came in close (a bit like David Haye did against Wladimir Klitschko). To me, Berinchyk is the better fighter, and deserved the win in Azerbaijan, and hopefully we will get to see a rematch in London between these two who head the field in the betting.

Rosniel Iglesias of Cuba and GB's Tom Stalker are expected to the strongest competition for medals to those two.

AIBA ranking - No. 3 of 32

Cuba

Lazaro Alvarez
21, Bantamweight

The current World and Pan American Games Champion, Alvarez is a very good fighter and only seems to be improving. The likes of Great Britain's Luke Campbell and AIBA World No. 1 Anvar Yunusov of Tajikistan will present him with a worthy challenge, but beating him will take something special.

AIBA ranking - No. 2 of 27

Prediction: Gold medal.

Julio Cesar De La Cruz
22, Light Heavyweight

I didn't see Cruz fight in the World's but I do know that he didn't have it all his own way on the way to winning the gold. Australia's Damien Hooper, Egor Mekhontsev of Russia, and Adilbek Niyazymbetov of Kazahkstan (in the final) all pushed him to within a few points. The Cuban is the favourite to win gold again, but I wouldn't be surprised at all if one of the aforementioned fighters mananged to turn the tables on him.

AIBA ranking - No. 1 of 39

Prediction: Gold medal.

Yasniel Toledo Lopez
26, Lightweight

Probably the fighter with the best chance of beating Vasyl Lomachenko in London, Toledo Lopez is an excellent boxer who should have learned from his finals loss to the Ukrainian last year. However, beating Lomachenko is much easier said that done, and it would take a monumental efffort. Italy's Domenico Valentino should also be right there at the end, probably challenging the Cuban for the silver medal.

AIBA ranking - No. 6 of 40

Prediction: Silver medal.

Other Cubans to look out for: Rosniel Iglesias (2009 World Champion), Erislandy Savon (Super heavyweight) Jose Larduet (Heavyweight).

Italy

Roberto Cammarelle
32, Super Heavyweight

88920796_medium
(Photo by Getty Images)

This exceptional super heavyweight may be starting to slip a little but should not be counted out just yet. Among his many tournament achievements he is the reigning Olympic Champion (stopping current British pro prospect David Price in the semi finals in 2008) and two time (2009, 2007) World Champ. Solid technique and above average power are his main assets, but he is also a skilled boxer and counter puncher. I wouldn't be surprised if he managed to go all the way, however I tend to think that the gold medal in London might be a bridge too far for him at this stage of his long career, although I do think he will make it to the podium.

AIBA ranking - No. 2 of 41

Prediction: Bronze medal.

Domenico Valentino
28, Lightweight

106951829_medium
(Photo by Jacopo Raule/Getty Images)

The 2009 World Champion, who has made it onto the podium at the last four World Championships (1 gold, 1 silver, 2 bronze), Valentino would have likely been even more successful had Vasyl Lomachenko not moved into his weight class in the last year or two. The fight for medals in his division is likely to be between him, Lomachenko and Toledo Lopez of Cuba.

AIBA ranking - No. 1 of 40

Prediction: Bronze medal.

Russia

Misha Aloyan
23, Flyweight

The current World Champion and joint favourite in his division (along with Andrew Selby) to win the Olympic gold. Aloyan also won the bronze in 2009 and the 2010 European Championships. I have covered Aloyan pretty extensively in other articles and all that really needs to be said now is that he is one of the best P4P in the world, and will take some beating.

AIBA ranking - No. 2 of 35

Prediction: Silver medal.

Artur Berterbiev
27, Heavyweight

The 2009 World Champion, 2007 silver medalist, and two time (2006, 2010) European champion, Berterbiev was the no.1 seed going into last year's World Championships but unfortunately ran in the man who would go on to win the gold, Aleksandr Usyk, in the quarter finals (lost 17-13). He rocked Usyk at times in that fight though and pushed him close.

A proven, quality operator at the highest level, and one of the hardest punchers in amateur boxing, Berterbiev could be worth a gamble at odds of up to 11-1 to win the gold.

AIBA ranking - No. 12 of 27

Prediction: Bronze medal at the very least.

Egor Mekhontsev
27, Light Heavyweight

Mekhontsev is another top class Russian who won the 2009 World's gold at heavyweight, the bronze last year at light heavyweight (lost to Cuba's gold medal winner Julio de la Cruz 21-15 in the semi finals), and is a two time European champion (at heavyweight - 2010, 2008).

The UK bookies have him a very close second favourite (behind Cruz) to improve on his World's showing by winning gold at the Games.

AIBA ranking - No. 9 of 39

Prediction: Bronze medal.

Other Russians to look out for: David Ayrapetyan (light flyweight).

Kazakhstan

Serik Sapiev
28, Welterweight

One of my favourite amateur fighters. Southpaw Sapiev is not only entertaining and very skillful, he is also successful at the highest level. The World Champion at light welterweight in both 2005 and 2007, he has since gone on to win a bronze (2009) and a silver (2011) at the higher weight.

He has yet to medal in the Olympics but I really think this could be his year. I thought he did enough to beat Taras Shelestyuk in last year's WC final, and he was certainly the more impressive of the two, skills and technique wise, in my opinion, even though he lost on the judges cards (16-10).

AIBA ranking - No. 4 of 40

Prediction: Gold medal.

China

Shiming Zou
31, Light Flyweight

82531441_medium
(Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

Zou must be the most successful Chinese amateur of all time. With his three World Championships (2005, 2007, 2011), Olympic Games gold (2008) and numerous other trophies and titles, he is possibly one of the most famous amateurs of all time in the world, not just China.

There is talk of the Duvas bringing Zou and some of his comrades out of the long time communist system in China (which seems to be changing a little) and signing them up to professional contracts after these Games.

Even with his exceptional talent, I would be quite surprised to see Zou turn over, given his age. Most who fight at such a low weight in the pros are ready for retiring by this stage, but who knows? Maybe he has aged well and you only have to look at Cuba's Guillermo Rigondeaux to see how quickly a great amateur can become a top pro.

South Korea's Jonghun Shin, David Ayrapetyan of Russia and 2009 World Champion, Serdamba Purevdorj of Mongolia will provide the sternest challenges to Zou.

AIBA ranking - No. 2 of 33

Prediction: Gold medal.

Ireland

John Joe Nevin
23, Bantamweight

A two time World's bronze medalist (2009, 2011), Nevin drew with Great Britain's Luke Campbell at last years final (12-12), at the semi final stage. Campbell went through on the countback rule. Like many of his Irish teammates, Nevin is up there with the best in the world at his weight and is capable of getting into the medals in London.

AIBA ranking - No. 4 of 27

Prediction: Bronze medal. I think he can get to the semi finals in what is a tough division.

Michael Conlan
20, Flyweight

Conlan took Andrew Selby right to the brink (lost 25-24) at the quarter final stage of last years World's. The fact that Selby is so highly regarded and the joint favourite to win the flyweight gold medal surely means that Conlan must be in with a chance of getting into the medals.

The problem is that he is in one of the toughest divisions and there are seven or eight fighters in serious contention of reaching the podium.

AIBA ranking - No. 9 of 35.

Prediction: Quarter finals at least. Could well get into the medal stages.

Azerbaijan

Magomed Medzhidov
25, Super heavyweight

The current World Champ and Anthony Joshua's biggest obstacle to winning the gold in London, Medzhidov is as tough as he looks, and much more of a brawler than boxer. Should he and Joshua meet again in London I think Medzhidov will look to make the fight a brawl again, and in my opinion that is not the type of fight that Joshua is best at. He should keep him on the end of his jab and outbox him. The more Medzhidov can turn it into a war, the more chance he has to win.

AIBA ranking - No. 1 of 41

Prediction: Silver medal.

Australia

Damien Hooper
20, Light Heavyweight

103624787_medium
(Photo by Mark Dadswell/Getty Images)

Australia's best hope for gold comes in the form of Hooper, who pushed the World Champ Julio de la Cruz of Cuba all the way in last years WC quarter final, losing by just one point (14-13). He has problems with discipline and respecting authority at times and there was a doubt whether the Australians would bring him to London at all only a few weeks ago, however he is a real talent, and still very young and improving.

He will no doubt be looking to improve on his World's showing in London. If he can get a bit of luck in the draw he could go all the way.

AIBA ranking - No. 2 of 39.

Prediction: Silver medal.

Japan

Ryota Murata
26, Middleweight

Not currently a strong amateur boxing nation, Japan's best hope for a medal, and possibly a gold one, comes in the form of Murata, who gave the Ukrainian Evhen Khytrov a tough fight in the World's final, eventually losing by a close score of 24-22. In the first round of that torunament, he took out Abbos Atoev by stoppage. Atoev is a former two time World Champion (2007 and 2009), so beating him, let alone forcing the stoppage, was a mightily impressive achievement in itself.

Undefeated in his home country since 2005, he has been to two World Championship tournaments and numerous Asian Games, however this will be his first Olympic Games.
He is the second favourite with the bookies to go one better than he did at the WC's and bring back what would no doubt be the lone gold medal to his country.

AIBA ranking - No. 2 of 37

Prediction: Silver medal, but I see him as the biggest danger to World Champion Khytrov.

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