By Frank Warren
With the Olympics now just hours away, it’s great to see boxing make a return to the home of the Marquess of Queensberry rules. It’s the third time the Olympics have been held in London. Team GB won five boxing golds in 1908 and in 1948 they bagged two silvers, could 2012 be one of this Olympic’s success stories with GB fielding a ten strong team - seven men and three women - going for glory.
The last few Olympics created a British star. In 2000 at Sydney it was Audley Harrison, in 2004 in Athens it was the only British representative Amir Khan, and the last one in 2008 in Beijing it was James DeGale. So who will be the star to break through in London?
Andrew Selby (Barry)
The Welsh flyweight, brother of pro Lee Selby - the current British and Commonwealth Super-Featherweight Champion - beat fellow Brit Khalid Yafai in a box off last November to earn his place in the squad. The 23-year-old came close to gold at the world championships last year in a close fought contest against Russian Misha Aloyan. Slow starter but can deliver a medal.
Luke Campbell (Hull)
Hull bantamweight Luke Campbell, 24, became the first GB boxer in 47 years to become European champion in 2008 and he silver at last year’s World Championships. Overcoming a hand injury in 2009 that took him out of the ring for 10 months, he returned to go unbeaten in 23 fights marking him out as the “benchmark” for the squad. If he can get out of the blocks early he could deliver.
Josh Taylor (Prestonpans)
It’s been over 50 years since Scotland’s Dick McTaggart won gold and lightweight Josh Taylor is hoping to emulate him. Taylor, 21, is the only Scottish boxer in the team and will have a tough call if comes across sensational Ukrainian Vasyl Lomachenko who is hailed as one of the best amateurs ever. If heart and graft gets you on the podium he can get there.
Fred Evans (Cardiff)
The youngest in the team, 18-year-old welterweight Fred Evans won gold at last year’s European Championships, along with Selby they became the first Welshman in 86 years to win gold, but he’s in a tough division and may have to face his former conqueror Lithuanian Egidijus Kavaliauskas. I think he will be a medalist.
Tom Stalker (Liverpool)
The team captain is one of the favourites to win gold in the light-welterweight division where he’s currently number one ranked in the world. The Scouser is the most experienced in the squad and the most consistent performer runner-up in the 2010/11 European Champions and bronze at last year’s world championships. Stalker, 27, didn’t make the 2008 Beijing Olympics squad because Frankie Gavin was selected, but Gavin later failed to make the weight for the games and was sent home. He will get a medal and deserves to the way he has turned his life around. A boxing success whatever happens.
Anthony Ogogo (Lowestoft)
He’s already appeared in Subway commercials, modeled for Adidas and appeared on TV reality show Big Brother, but its crunch time for Ogogo, 24, as he goes for gold. He qualified the hard way through the back door in Turkey and showed his heart by coming back from six points down to beat Jaba Khositashvili and then a win over Vitali Bandarenka secured his spot. He’s also had to overcome a severe shoulder injury to make sure he’s fighting fit. He defiantly has the ability to get a medal.
Anthony Joshua (London)
Londoner Albert Oldman won heavyweight gold in 1908 and joined the Ceylon Police shortly after. There’s no chance of that if Joshua wins gold in the super-heavyweight division, he’ll be the hottest property in world boxing. Four years ago Joshua hadn’t even laced a pair of boxing gloves and now the London star is one of the favourites to capture the top prize. Joshua, 22, had a fantastic world championships beating reigning Olympic and double world champion Roberto Cammarelle and just lost out in the final to the home boxer Magomedrasul Medhidov in Azerbaijan. Standing at 6ft 6in, supremely athletic with fast hands and feet, a big punch and million dollar smile, he is one of the faces of London 2012. He will get a medal, I expect him to be in the final.
With women boxers taking part in the Olympics for the first time - in only three categories: flyweight, lightweight and middleweight - it could increase Team GB’s medal haul.
The most accomplished is flyweight Nicola Adams, 29 (Leeds), who’s won three silver world championship medals and a gold at a European championship. Amazingly she a part-time actress and has appeared in Coronation Street and Emerdale and is a competent tiler.
Liverpool lightweight Natasha Jonas, 28 (Liverpool), only started boxing to stay fit and control her weight and she became the first British female to qualify.
Savannah Marshall, 21 (Hartlepool), known as the ‘Silent Assassin’, become Britain’s first ever world champion on her birthday earlier this year. She had to take the hard route that saw her beat the top contenders.
As the host Nation and with the huge investment made into amateur boxing, the expectation level of medals is as with other sports high. We should expect at least 2 or 3 golds.
The Sky’s not the limit for British and Commonwealth Heavyweight Champion David Price.
His promoter Frank Maloney this week signed an exclusive deal with BoxNation that will ensure that the giant heavy-handed Scouser’s fights will be seen live on the home of TV boxing.
The first fight of the deal will see Price take on 2000 Olympic champion Audley Harrison in Liverpool on 13thOctober in a battle of the Olympians with Price winning bronze in Beijing.
British and Commonwealth Super-Middleweight Champion George Groves is back in action for the first time this year, after injury kept him out of the ring tonight in San Jose, California.
The Hammersmith southpaw takes on the dangerous Mexican Francisco Sierra over ten rounds in his second US appearance. Sierra’s got 22 knockouts from 25 wins with 15 coming inside three rounds so it could be stormy in there for Groves for the first few rounds.
Showtime will broadcast the fight live in the US and you can catch the action live in the UK on BoxNation (Sky Ch. 437/Virgin Ch. 546).
The figures released by the Nevada State Athletic Commission this week revealed that Amir Khan wasn’t a big a hit in Las Vegas as Miguel Garcia’s left hook earlier this month.
Only 3,147 tickets were sold for the fight at the Mandalay Bay with 3,364 given away and 737 going unsold.
I said last week it was too early for Khan to go to the US and he should have established himself in the UK first. When Naseem Hamed made his debut at Madison Square Garden in 1997 against Kevin Kelley 14,000 paid to see him.
Kent bee-keeper Bob Smith and Cockney Police Constable Danny O'Sullivan have the honour of being the boxing ring announcers at London 2012.
The stalwarts of London amateur boxing have the Herculean task of announcing 250 men and 36 female boxers at the ExCeL that even the world’s top MC Michael Buffer would find hard going.
Tags: Frank Warren