Alan Dawson – London
If amateur boxing were a baton, the Cubans have been running with it since the 1972 Olympic Games when bantamweight Orlando Martinez, welterweight Emilio Correa and heavyweight Teofilo Stevenson all scooped gold in Munich. However, the Ukraine boxing programme is currently so extraordinary that – in ten weight classes – they officially produced four gold medalists in the World Amateur Boxing Championships in Baku, Azerbaijan.
||Zou Shiming (Chn)
||Shin Jong-Hun (Kor)||P. Serdamba (Mon)David Ayrapetyan (Rus)|
||Misha Aloyan (Rus)
||Andrew Selby (UK)||Rau’shee Warren (USA)Jasurbek Latipov (Uz)|
||Lazaro Alvarez (Cub)
||Luke Campbell (UK)||John Joe Nevin (Ire)Anvar Yunusov (TJK)|
||Vasyl Lomachenko (Ukr)
||Yasniel Toledo (Cub)||Domenico Valentino (Ita)Gani Zhailauov (Kaz)|
||Everton Lopes (Bra)
||Denys Berinchyk (Ukr)||Tom Stalker (UK)Vincenzo Mangiacapre (Ita)|
||Taras Shelestyuk (Ukr)
||Serik Sapiyev (Kaz)||Egidijus Kavaliauskas (Lit)Vikas Krishan (Ind)|
||Yevhen Khytrov (Ukr)
||Ryota Murata (Jap)||Esquiva Florentino (Bra)Bogdan Juratoni (Rom)|
||Julio Cesar la Cruz (Cub)
||Adil Niyazymbetov (Kaz)||Egor Mekhontsev (Rus)Elshod Rasulov (Uz)|
||Oleksandr Usyk (Ukr)
||Teymur Mammadov (Azr)||Siarhei Karneyeu (Bel)
Wang Xuanxuan (Chn)
||Magomedrasul Majidov (Azr)
||Anthony Joshua (UK)||Erik Pfeifer (Ger)Ivan Dychko (Kaz)|
On The Beak‘s tournament picks
Anthony Joshua – Silver medalist at super heavyweight (UK)
Beaten by a single point in the final against Azeri Magomedrasul Medzhidov – number two in the world – in what his only his second senior competition, Anthony Joshua, a 6’6 big man, exceeded expectations in a thrilling run that culminated with a war in the tournament’s concluding bout.
Joshua exercised an authoritative jab throughout the finals and, en route to the battle for gold against Medzhidov, he disposed of renowned Italian; Roberto Cammarelle, a former gold medalist at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, as well as the 2007 and also 2009 world championships. At the semifinal stage he secured a stoppage victory over German contestant Erik Pfiefer as the referee was unhappy with Pfiefer’s bloodied nose and grossly cut eye. This, after forcing the ringside physicians to withdraw Trinidad and Tobago’s Commonwealth Games silver medalist Tariq Abdul-Haqq from the action of his curtain-raising fight.
Considering that just six months ago Joshua was not even considered a member of Team GB’s podium squad, he has taken his shot and emerged as a medal favourite at the 2012 Games in London. Joshua has great physical attributes, a commanding lead punch, solid left hooks, right cross shots and possesses sterling combination skills.
Oleksandr Usyk – Gold medalist at heavyweight (UKR)
Oleksandr Usyk won a lop-sided points triumph over Siarhei Karneyeu, of Belarus, when the competition had been whittled down to four but the silver medalist of the European championships was no match for an in-form Usyk.
During the quarterfinal stage, Usyk engaged in what is a consensus nominee for fight of the tournament as a back-and-forth erupted with Artur Beterbiev – the defending world champion, from Russia.
Like his medal-winning Ukrainian peers, Usyk is highly-speculated to make the step to the paid ranks following the Olympic Games in London and the 6’3 heavyweight will certainly be one to watch whether in the amateurs or as a professional. His footwork is well-practiced, his reflexes are intuitive and his hand-speed is straight out of the textbook.
Yevhen Khytrov – Gold medalist at middleweight (UKR)
In the final, Khytrov – a European Cup winner with Ukraine – edged Ryota Murata, the man who scored one of the upsets of the competition by dismantling a former world champion, Abbos Atoev in the opening bouts.
Romania’s Bogdan Juratoni emerged as a swift boxing scribe’s favourite but Khytrov was as unforgiving as he was unrelenting and showed just why his power is a notorious asset around the world as he bulldozed through Juratoni. Khytrov was 14:9 up when the referee stopped the contest in the second round. Aleksandar Drenovak, a 28-year-old from Serbia, was also out-muscled by the brutally strong Khytrov, who remains unbeaten throughout the whole year.
Khytrov’s ability to counter sets him apart from other competitors… Juratoni felt the full brunt of it as he was clobbered out of the ring with a jaw-denting left hook. Khytrov’s initial reaction was telling; he did not instantly celebrate, he just walked to his corner as if it was something he had seen many times before.
Serik Sapiyev – Silver medalist at welterweight (KAZ)
Denied the chance of becoming a three-time amateur world champion by Taras Shelestyuk in the welterweight final, Serik Sapiyev still boxed a good tournament, particularly against US competitor Errol Spence where he displayed accurate punching and good timing whilst fighting to his physical advantages.
In his opening bout he stopped Carlos Sanchez of Ecuador, an Independence Cup winner, in scintillating fashion as Sanchez failed to hear the final bell. At the semifinal stage he overcame Egidijus Kavaliauska with ease as the Lithuanian’s corner were forced to throw in the towel in a much-needed act of surrender.
Zou Shiming – Gold medalist at light flyweight (CHN)
Shiming’s honours roll is beginning to require paragraphs… his gold medal in Baku adds to his previous two golds at Chicago in 2007 and Mianyang in 2005 (he also won silver in Bangkok in 2003). The 30-year-old Chinese fighter, registering a 5’5 height, is also a gold medal Olympian having won the ultimate prize in front of his home fans in Beijing, 2008.
By obtaining a further gold this year, Shiming extended an unbeaten run that stretches back as far as June, 2007. David Ayrapetyan, a European champion with Russia, was out-hustled by Shiming in the semifinal stage while the experienced amateur trumped Korean hotshot Shin Jong-Hun in the final.
Shiming will be highly fancied for another gold at the 2012 Games.