We’re in the home stretch of Olympic men’s boxing, with just three days worth left beginning Friday. The medal count is complete, but it’s now down to who gets which medals. There are some very, very high quality bouts in the Semis at bantamweight and lightweight, some atrocious ones at super heavyweight and some good ones scattered throughout the rest. Our man Alex McClintock will have you covered in the early session of the Semifinal blitzkrieg Friday, while I’ll come back at you for the later session.
(Freddie Evans, right, aims at Custio Clayton, left; photo via London 2012 Olympics website)
The fights below are listed in the order they’ll transpire, with all set to be streamed by NBC online. CNBC will get to it later.
Light Flyweight 49kg/108lb
Zou Shiming (China) vs. Paddy Barnes (Ireland): In 2008, Zou blanked Barnes in Beijing, 15-0. Barnes’ team has been joking that their goal isn’t gold, but just scoring a point on Zou. Things have changed since 2008: Zou has slowed down and has been shaky these Olympics, while Barnes has performed well and he’s closer to home than Zou is. Unless Zou finds some reserves of his old gold form, or the judges bail him out again, Barnes should be heading past bronze and toward silver or gold.
David Ayrapetyan (Russia) vs. Kaeo Pongprayoon (Thailand): The Russian has had a tougher road here, and as such hasn’t always excelled against good competition. That makes this match-up hard to call. Going on form, It’s Pongprayoon. Going by who’s more battle-tested, it’s Ayrapetyan.
Bantamweight – 56kg/123.4lb
Lazaro Alvarez Estrada (Cuba) vs. John Joe Nevin (Ireland): This is the fight I’m looking forward to second-most in the Semifinals — see the lightweight division for #1 — because Alvarez has been excellent and so has Nevin. This is high-class amateur stuff.
Luke Campbell (Great Britain) vs. Satoshi Shimizu (Japan): Shimizu is a walking drama machine — nothing he does can happen without controversy. Campbell was nearly on the opposite side of home court advantage with a decision that was heading against him in the Quarterfinals, but he took matters into his own hands in the 3rd to pull it out. I’ll go with Campbell based on that, and I think he’s better overall, too, but wouldn’t be surprised if Shimizu somehow won a fight he didn’t deserve to win.
Light Welterweight 64kg/141lb
Roniel Iglesias Sotolongo (Cuba) vs. Vicenzo Mangiacapre (Italy): For a while there, it looked as though Iglesias was going to coast, but then he got thrown a scare in the Quarterfinals. And Mangiacapre, he hasn’t been half-bad. Iglesias should be the favorite, but it’s not as presumed a victory as it once appeared.
Munkh-Erdene Uranchimeg (Mongolia) vs. Denys Berinchyk (Ukraine): Berinchyk found some of his form in the Quarters, dominating Jeff Horn instead of squeaking by. Uranchimeg held off a volume-punching Tom Stalker in a far closer bout by being just that much sharper than the Brit. Can the Mongolian muzzle the raw physicality of Berinchyk? I’m guessing not, but bet it’ll be a close one.
Middleweight – 75kg/165.3lb
Anthony Ogogo (Great Britain) vs. Esquiva Falcao Florentino (Brazil): Ogogo’s worked hard to get this far no matter what you think of him benefiting from questionable scoring, but I don’t think hard work will be good enough for a fighter of Falcao’s quality.
Abbos Atoev (Uzbekistan) vs. Ryota Murata (Japan): Atoev has been propelled to the Semis by multiple bad decisions, whereas Murata is just good. Let’s see if good trumps whatever kind of voodoo has been aiding Atoev, as I think it will.
Heavyweights – 91kg/200.6lb
Oleksandr Usyk (Ukraine) vs. Tervel Pulev (Bulgaria): This weight class has, by far, the worst final four. Usyk got through the Quarterfinals because I guess the judges were impressed by his ability to take a beating from Artur Beterbiev, and Pulev’s win was controversial but a great deal less so. Usyk is my pick, since if he gets whooped the judges will reward him and if he is better than Pulev he’ll win, too.
Teymur Mammadov (Azerbaijan) vs. Clemente Russo (Italy): Oh man, is this a shitty, shitty fight. Mammadov’s win over Siarhei Karneyeu is as offensive to the collective moral compass as anything in the Olympics so far and should’ve been overturned. Russo, meanwhile, is just plainly in the wrong sport, so egregiously does he wrestle. A pox on both houses. I’ll go with Azerbaijan, for some reason.
Flyweight – 52kg/114.6lb
Misha Aloian (Russia) vs. Tugstsogt Nyambayar (Mongolia): I’ve thought Aloian a bit vulnerable-looking, but I’m in a small camp there. Nyambayar has gotten here with aggression and willpower and I’m not going to go so far as calling the upset, but I’m putting you on alert. Just a hunch.
Michael Conlan (Ireland) vs. Robeisy Ramirez Carrazana (Cuba): In this flyweight bout, though, I’m very much in Ramirez’ camp. He’s been scary good — calm, intelligent, fast, powerful, evasive and aggressive in perfect balance. Sorry, Conlan, but I don’t see you sniffing even a close loss.
Lightweight – 60kg/132.2lb
Vasyl Lomachenko (Ukraine) vs. Yasnier Toledo Lopez (Cuba): Fight of the day. Lomachenko is a joy to watch, as we all knew coming into the Games — friend of the site FunkyBadger appropriately describes him as fighting like “a damn scorpion.” Toledo has been a revelation. You gotta like Lomachenko, but Toeldo’s a threat, even if Lomachencko’s gotten the better of him in the past.
Evaldas Petrauskas (Lithuania) vs. Soonchul Han (South Korea): Petrauskas has fought his way into the hearts of many these Olympics with his exhausting style, but Han is better than the other guys he has faced so far. I wouldn’t count Petrauskas out, but I think his run ends with this bout.
Welterweight – 69kg/152.1lb
Taras Shelestyuk (Ukraine) vs. Freddie Evans (Great Britain): No welterweight has wowed his way into a medal, and Shelestyuk shouldn’t be here at all. Evans’ biggest problem in the Quartefinals was one of concentration, I suspect, so I think he’ll be the one who knocks off the Ukranian for real.
Andrey Zamkovoy (Russia) vs. Serik Sapiyev (Kazakhstan): Zamkovoy is solid, but Sapiyev at his best is awfully good. Sapiyev hasn’t been off his best for very much of the Olympics, and that spells victory against the Russian.
Light Heavyweight 81kg/178.5lb
Yamagushi Falcao Florentino (Brazil) vs. Egor Mekhontcev (Russia): The man who kills the king becomes the king in the case of Falcao, having toppled division leader Julio la Cruz Peraza. Mekhontcev has been unspectacularly effective, but Falcao looks to me like the goods.
Adilbek Niyazymbetov (Kazakhstan) vs. Oleksandr Gvozdyk (Ukraine): Both are just barely in the Semis, but Gvozdyk has impressed me in bursts of dominance and I see those trumping Niyazymbetov’s consistency.
Super Heavyweight – 91kg+/200.6lb+
Magomedrasul Medzhidov (Azerbaijan) vs. Roberto Cammarelle (Italy): With Cammarelle slowing down as he ages, Medzhidov ought to put Azerbaijan in line — hopefully without any lingering, “Editorial Guidance”-related questions — to compete for gold.
Ivan Dychko (Kazakhstan) vs. Anthony Joshua (Great Britain): Joshua moved into the pole position with his last win, with the hulking, 6’9″ Dychko the biggest remaining threat to his ascendancy, literally and figuratively. I like Joshua to advance.