I like to keep an eye on the elite level amateur scene, mainly just the Olympics and World Championships if i have time and i especially like to keep tabs on the Ukrainians, Russians, Kazakh's and Cuban's, as well as my native Brits, who may be looking to turn pro at some stage.
We have seen it in the last few years with the likes of Gennady Golovkin, Guillermo Rigondeaux and Vasyl Lomachenko all achieving the highest levels of success as amateurs and then moving on to the pro game.
For the most part they have been successful in the pros too and although it's true that a good amateur does not always make a good pro, i think if the fighter has a good chin and is tough both physically and mentally, those attributes coupled with the fact that they possess great technical abilities, accuracy and fundamentals often mean that the end product is that of a high level professional.
They are also used to fighting, and mostly winning, against some very talented fighters at the elite amateur level, often facing boxers with more talent than many professionals.
One such fighter who belongs in the same category as those listed above (as an amateur at least) is Russia's Egor Mekhontsev, who makes his pro debut at light heavyweight this Saturday on the undercard of the Rigondeaux - Joseph Agbeko fight.
Mekhontsev won the gold medal at light heavyweight at the London Olympics last year and also holds the World Championships gold from 2009 (at heavyweight), the bronze from 2011 and two European Amateur Championship titles in 2008 and 2010 (both at heavyweight).
At 29 one might think he is getting on in age a bit, but as is the case with Rigo, when you have been so good as an amateur for so long, you are often fast tracked as a pro and age is not a big issue. Also, fighters in general are fighting longer nowadays.
From what i saw of him in London he is your typically hard-nosed, come forward Russian, but can also fight on the counter when required, has sound technique (as you would expect), above average power and a solid looking physique. Another factor to his advantage is that he is a southpaw.
He came up against no real adversity in London and beat most of his opponents clearly. The only fight which seemed to be close was the final against Kazakhstan's Adibek Niyayimbetov, which Egor won on countback after the scores were even at 15-15 after 3 rounds.
It should be noted, however, that the Kazakh was the recipient of quite a few dubious decisions in London and, if i remember correctly, he didn't push Mekhontsev quite as closely as the scorecards suggested.
Anyway, here are a couple of clips of Mekhontsev in action, and hopefully Sky or HBO might show some highlights of his debut tonight. In both clips Mekhonsev is the fighter in the blue vest:
Usyk Oleksandr vs Mekhontsev Egor - World Boxing Championships Milan 2009, Semifinal 91 kg (Part 2) (via StevenZ2000)
Egor MEKHONTSEV vs Osmai ACOSTA DUARTE 91 kg FINAL AIBA World Men's Championships Milan 2009 (via Staffan Kamm)