A Look at The 2012 Olympics: Division By Division Review

By Mark Staniforth

After a weekend of high-profile fights at home and abroad, attention will now turn to the ring at the Olympic Games.

With the beginning of the London boxing competition fast approaching, we provide a guide to the likely contenders in each of the 13 weight categories at the Games:


World and Olympic champion Zou Shiming is clearly the man to beat. Ireland's Paddy Barnes, beaten by a rather exaggerated 15-0 by the Chinese star in the Beijing semi-finals, is determined to be the man to do it. Filipino teenager Mark Barriga, who beat Barnes in last year's World Championship, is a good outside bet.


European champion and world silver medallist Andrew Selby is arguably the best gold chance of the British men. But he will be up against it against Russia's Misha Aloian, who denied him in Baku last year. Rising Irish star Michael Conlan is a definite contender, as is experienced American Rau'shee Warren.


World champion Lazaro Alvarez is one of the strongest members of the Cuban team. Luke Campbell, beaten by Alvarez in last year's world final, and Ireland's John Joe Nevin are also major medal hopes. Veteran Bulgarian Detelin Dalakliev and Kazakh Kanat Abutalipov should also figure.


Ukraine's world and Olympic champion Vasyl Lomachenko is one of the best in the business - as is Italy's world number one Domenico Valentino, who will provide his main challenge. Only Cuba's Yasniel Toledo and Turkey's Fatih Keles look capable of preventing a final between the two favourites.


Thomas Stalker is among the favourites at a tough weight including world champion Everton Lopes of Brazil, Asian champion Munkh-Erdene Uranchimeg of Mongolia, Cuba's former world champion Roniel Iglesias, and strong, attacking Ukrainian Denis Berinchyk, who could prove the man to beat.


According to Amir Khan's trainer Freddie Roach, Errol Spence has the best shot for the US in one of the weaker divisions. Ukraine's Taras Shelestyuk, tricky Kazakh Serik Sapiyev and Lithuania's Egidijus Kavaliauskas are among the favourites, along with British hope, European champion Fred Evans.


World champion Evyen Khytrov of the Ukraine, and Uzbek former world champion Abbos Atoev are the division's big hitters. Japan's Ryota Murata is also a contender and Algeria's Abdelmalek Rahou is capable of springing a surprise. Anthony Ogogo and Ireland's Darren O'Neill are capable of sneaking in.


At a weight heavy on veterans, Cuba's Julio Cesar De La Cruz starts as favourite, followed by tough Kazakh Adilbek Niyazymbetov and Algeria's Abdelhafid Benchabla. Russia's Egor Mekhontsev and Uzbek Elshod Rasulov have both been there before and will push for medals.


Azeri southpaw Teymur Mammadov leads the challenge to established names such as Ukrainian world champion Oleksandr Usyk and Italy's Clemente Russo. But two outsiders ready to stake a claim are Bulgaria's Tervel Pulev - brother of pro contender Kubrat - and 17-year-old Australian Jai Opetaia, the 2011 world junior champion.


In arguably the best division of all, Anthony Joshua's hopes of home city glory will be challenged by Azeri Magomedrasul Medzhidov, China's 2008 silver medallist Zhilei Zhang, veteran Italian Roberto Cammarelle and Cuba's Erislandy Savon - nephew of Olympic legend Felix. Each one has gold medal pedigree.


All signs point to a repeat gold bout between Nicola Adams and China's Cancan Ren - who has beaten Adams in the last two World Championship finals. Adams has what it takes to finally get the better of her on home soil. Russia's Elena Savelyeva and Indian superstar Mary Kom are no pushovers, however.


Ireland's four-time world champion Katie Taylor is probably the best gold medal bet in the sport. But the division is not without its challenges with strong Russian Sofya Ochigava and Tajikistan Mavzuna Chorieva leading the charge. Liverpool's Natasha Jonas is a good medal hope.


If she wants to add Olympic gold to her world title, Savannah Marshall is likely to have to see off 17-year-old American Claressa Shields, highly hyped back home and itching for revenge after her World Championship loss to the Hartlepool fighter. Former world number one Mary Spencer is also a big threat.

Mark Staniforth covers boxing for PA Sport

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User Comments and Feedback (Register For Free To Comment) Comment by Dave Rado on 07-22-2012

[QUOTE=BIGPOPPAPUMP;12361789]After a weekend of high-profile fights at home and abroad, attention will now turn to the ring at the Olympic Games. With the beginning of the London boxing competition fast approaching, we provide a guide to the likely contenders in…

Comment by Kunni Phunt on 07-22-2012

I started a thread a week or so ago to see if anyone is taking bets...upto now only one taker but if any of you fancy a bet look up my thread... I'm flying back to the UK tomorrow and…

Comment by TaurusJ27 on 07-22-2012

[QUOTE=Mastrangelo;12362119]It will be pretty cool to watch it, I wasn't that huge boxing fan during last olympics yet, but it was still interesting. Now I'll have to pick some guys to support at every weight class.[/QUOTE] I'm more interested in…

Comment by Hitman Hodgson on 07-22-2012

Nicola Adams grew up not far from me, she's always been a boxing beast.:boxing:

Comment by Cloud on 07-22-2012

I wasn't a boxing fan either when the last Olympics came round. Funny how the years fly by and stuff changes.

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