After a year's delay due to COVID-19, the Olympic Games in Tokyo are finally set to begin, and some of the world’s best amateur boxers will start their pursuit of winning a medal for their country. Who are the favourites to win medals in the Men's and Women’s tournaments and which boxers could cause an upset in Japan? Read on to find out.
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Tokyo 2020 boxing tournament schedule:
Number of events: 13
Competitors: 76 nations
What dates are the finals?
Men’s welterweight final: Tuesday, August 3
Women’s featherweight final: Tuesday, August 3
Men’s light heavyweight final: Wednesday, August 4
Men’s featherweight final: Thursday, August 5
Men’s heavyweight final: Friday, August 6
Men’s flyweight final: Saturday, August 7
Women’s flyweight final: Saturday, August 7
Men’s middleweight final: Saturday, August 7
Women’s welterweight final: Saturday, August 7
Men’s lightweight final: Sunday, August 8
Women’s lightweight final: Sunday, August 8
Women’s middleweight final: Sunday, August 8
Tokyo 2020 boxing: What do you need to know?
There will be no spectators present at any event in both the Men’s and Women’s boxing tournaments at Tokyo 2020. Boxers will compete in 13 different weight categories meaning there will be 13 separate gold medals to win. The weight classes will range from flyweight to super heavyweight for the Men’s tournament and from flyweight to middleweight for the Women’s tournament.
Each weight class will be done in the format of a knockout competition which will start with 32 boxers and run right down to the final with the first round of 32 fights beginning on Saturday, July 24 and the final gold medal bouts being held on Sunday, August 8.
Tokyo 2020 boxing Men’s tournament: Ones to watch
Middleweight (75KG): Oleksandr Khyzhniak (Team Ukraine)
Oleksandr Khyzhniak hasn’t lost a bout since 2016 and possesses all the skills to win a medal in Tokyo, possibly even gold. One of this Olympic Games' most exciting prospects, the Ukrainian has multiple World Youth Championships under his belt and has recently emerged as an amateur star in Ukraine.
A powerful boxer, Khyzhniak was recently awarded Ukraine’s 'Best in Boxing' prize and it is most certainly worth keeping an eye on him to see how the 25-year-old develops, not only throughout this Olympic tournament but as a professional as well.
24-year-old Muslim Gadzhimagomedov will enter the heavyweight tournament as the betting favourite with Pinnacle and for good reason. Having not lost a bout since 2017, Gadzhimagomedov possesses all the skills and ring generalship to win gold in Japan.
Standing tall at six foot, five inches, the Russian is an extremely accurate puncher who tends to throw straight and long punches rather than mix up his game with hooks and inside fighting. He moves well for his frame size and should be expected to be there or thereabouts when the heavyweight final is concluded on Friday, August 6.
Welterweight (69KG): Pat McCormack (Team GB)
McCormack is arguably Team GB’s best hope of a gold medal and this is reflected in Pinnacle’s odds. The superbly talented welterweight will also be taking part in his second Olympic Games after missing out on a medal in Rio in 2016.
The 26-year-old has won gold medals at both the European Games and Commonwealth Games, and he could well add an Olympic prize to his trophy cabinet with a favourable draw in Tokyo. McCormack is a southpaw and an extremely smart, well-rounded fighter who will almost certainly become a top-level professional once the Olympics is over, kick-starting a new era of British boxing.
Men’s Flyweight (52kg): Shakhobidin Zoirov (Team Uzbekistan)
Zoirov is a superb talent. The Uzbekistani boxer won gold at the 2016 Olympics and it is very hard to not see him repeating this success in the Men’s Flyweight category in Japan. Zoirov has all the fundamentals to be a great Olympian; the skillset he possesses is superior to the rest of the boxers at this weight, so it is no surprise that Pinnacle have priced him as such a heavy favourite to win the gold medal.
Men’s lightweight (63kg): Andy Cruz (Team Cuba)
The top prospect in the Cuba team, Andy Cruz is a terrific talent who will be expected to medal at Tokyo 2020. Cruz’s all-around boxing is of a very high level; he possesses great footwork and timing of punch, whilst he is extremely hard to pin down or catch clean, which will serve him well in this tournament.
As is usually the case with Cuban boxers, boxing fans might not ever see Cruz in the pro ranks so he is certainly a fighter to watch out for and enjoy in Japan.
Men’s middleweight (75kg): Eumir Marcial (Team Philippines)
The 25-year-old Philippine middleweight boxer will be looking to win gold at Tokyo 2020 but will face some stiff competition in his weight class. Marcial represented the Philippines at the 2015, 2017, and 2019 Southeast Asian Games and is a three-time gold medallist, and he also won silver at the 2019 World Championships.
An impressive power puncher who might yet be more suited to the professional ranks, Marcial will certainly be one to keep an eye on in Tokyo. With the inevitable comparisons being made to his country’s greatest ever boxer, Manny Pacquiao, Marcial has already signed a professional contract with Pacquiao’s promotional company to go into the professional ranks for good once the Olympics is over.
Tokyo 2020 boxing Women’s tournament: Ones to watch
Middleweight (75kg): Lauren Price (Team GB)
Lauren Price will come into Tokyo 2020 as the favourite for the gold medal in the middleweight (75kg) weight class. Price hasn’t lost in years and there should be an interesting battle between the Brit and the American boxer, Naomi Graham, who is one of the dominant women’s fighters from the USA team.
A former international footballer for Wales, Price - with her all-around athleticism and solid boxing skills coupled with vast amounts of experience - is certainly a worthy favourite for the gold medal in this weight category.
Featherweight (57kg): Lin Yu-ting (Team China)
Four female Taiwanese boxers have qualified for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics boxing tournament, and Lin Yu-ting could well prove the pick of the pack.
Yu-ting claimed a gold medal at the 2018 AIBA Women’s World Boxing Championships and at the 2019 Asian Amateur Boxing Championships and is regularly the favourite to win most amateur tournaments that she enters.
At 25, she has all the experience and boxing ability to certainly be amongst the medals.
Lightweight (60kg): Beatriz Ferreira (Team Brazil)
Beatriz Ferreira is certainly one to watch in the Women’s lightweight draw. A talented and strong fighter, she has all the tools to win gold providing she performs at the level that she has been in recent tournaments.
Ferreira has extremely strong punching power in her right hand and is also brilliant at fighting inside and out-toughing opponents. The 28-year-old is a strong contender for gold in the Women’s lightweight category but it is a division that will be competitive, with the likes of Ireland’s Kellie Harrington and the highly-rated Caroline Dubois also in this category.
Tokyo 2020 boxing: Which boxers could cause an upset?
Featherweight (57KG): Peter McGrail (Team GB)
‘The Scouse Lomachenko’, Peter McGrail is a superb talent for Team GB and a boxer that stands an outside chance of success at Tokyo 2020. The 25-year-old already has World, Commonwealth, and European medals to his name, and he will be looking to finish off his amateur career with a bang by medalling in Japan.
A representative of the Everton Red Triangle Boxing Club in Liverpool, McGrail has all the attributes to go all the way, having medalled at all the major tournaments in the last five years. He has won two World Championship bronze medals as well as gold at the European Championships and the Commonwealth Games, which means he is certainly up there with the best in the amateur game despite his featherweight weight class possessing formidable opposition.
He did lose out in two close fights at the World Championships but McGrail’s form should be slightly improved from then, and he will have plenty more experience under his belt in Tokyo. So, providing he can handle the pressure, gets some luck with the draw, and sticks to his slick boxing style, he has all the tools to cause an upset in the betting odds.
Heavyweight (91kg): Julio Cesar La Cruz (Team Cuba)
If you enjoy watching the typically astute Cuban amateur style of boxing, then you will love watching Julio Cesar La Cruz.
La Cruz isn’t the favourite for gold in the heavyweight category and this will come as a surprise to some, as he is full of experience and possesses an extremely high skillset, including lightning-fast hands when he throws his combination punches.
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