With the Olympic men’s boxing quarterfinals upon us Sunday afternoon, a medal is just one step away. So, the podium does indeed await very, very soon, as our Patrick Connor wrote in a lovely piece earlier today.
As such, we’ll look at each match-up rather than just hitting the highlights. First up are the bantamweights and heavyweights who are in action in a matter of minutes. Ireland’s John Joe Nevin, by virtue of expressing lacivious decires toward two of America’s biggest sporting stars (see below), gets the mascot treatment.
CNBC is broadcasting the fights with a start time of 3:30 p.m., if you don’t care to watch them online.
Lazaro Alvarez Estrada (Cuba) vs. Robenilson Vieira de Jesus (Brazil): Alvarez started as the favorite here and he’s done nothing to change that, nor has anyone else, although Alvarez did get pushed by Team USA’s Joseph Diaz, Jr. A few expected divisional threats have subsided, too. And Vieira barely won his last fight, but it was against former Russian world Sergey Vodopiyanov, so maybe he can give the Cuban a challenge.
John Joe Nevin (Ireland) vs. Oscar Valdez Fierro (Mexico): Both men had wide points wins in to get to the quarters, but it’s Nevin who’s the betting favorite by virtue of coming into the tournament as one of the talked-about contenders. He’s one of my favorites for joking about wanting to bang Venus and Serena Williams. At least, I assume the married father of one is joking.
Luke Campbell (Great Britain) vs. Detelin Dalakliev (Bulgaria): Campbell, not to be confused with the 2 Live Crew founder, wasn’t all that solid in his first bout, but then, neither was Dalakliev. That means Campbell has a chance to move on, and fulfill the growing hopes that Team GB has sent its best team to the Olympics in a half-century.
Mohamed Amine Ouadahi (Algeria) vs. Satoshi Shimizu (Japan): Call this one the robber vs. the robbed, or the robber vs. the robber-turned-robbed. Ouadahi was thought of as a medal contender going in, but took a disputed win to get here. Shimizu was himself shaky in the first round, and we all know what happened to him in his last fight, what with the bad refereeing/judging/overturned decision. Shimizu looked good in that one, so this could be a tight bout.
Heavyweight – 91kg/200.6lb
Oleksandr Usyk (Ukraine) vs. Artur Beterbiev (Russia): Usyk is the big favorite in the division and he’s facing an opponent who knocked off Team USA’s Michael Hunter, but had to do it on a countback. Usyk should roll. But most of the rest of the early division favorites live on, so he might get a challenge soon enough if not from Beterbiev.
Tervel Pulev (Bulgaria) vs. Yamil Peralta Jara (Argentina): Followers of the pro game will know Pulev as the brother of heavyweight contender Kubrat, so boxing is in the blood. Peralta upset his way into the quarterfinals, but did it with a big performance against #4 seed Chouaib Bouloudinats, so he could be live.
Teymur Mammodov (Azerbaijan) vs. Siarhei Karneyeu (Belarus): Mammodov was viewed as the top threat to Usyk, but got pressed real hard in the Round of 16. Karneyeu also came in to the tourney with medal hopes. Pressure’s his game, so this could be a good one.
Jose Larduet Gomez (Cuba) vs. Clemente Russo (Italy): Larduet got some trouble from Ali Mazaheri before the Iranian was ridiculously disqualified, and Russo got a walkover forfeit in the last round, so two medal contenders are meeting in the quarterfinals of a shallow division without yet having proved much. Could be interesting.