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Tokyo 2020 Olympics - Boxing Preview (Middleweight)

By Cain Bradley

Yuito Moriwaki (Japan) is another boxer who will be looking for a boost by the home town crowd. He did win the test event in Tokyo and has an impressive win over Trey Isley (United States). He works really well on the inside, with some describing it as a pro style as he looks to punish opponents. Isley is another American boxer who did actually did not qualify through the American qualification event. Previous results put him in a strong position when the rankings were used to determine qualifiers. He was a bronze medalist at the 2017 World Championship and also won bronze at the 2019 Pan-American Games. Nicknamed the ‘transformer,’ he was 2-0 as a professional fighting under the Top Rank banner. The man who beat him and went on to win the 2017 World Championship was Oleksandr Khyzhniak (Ukraine). He is the reigning European champion and has not lost since 2016. An absolute relentless fighter, he mixes power with brilliant footwork. He missed the last World Championships due to the political tensions between Ukraine and Russia. Taking advantage of his absence was Gleb Backshi (Russia). The powerful Russian cruised through the field to take gold. He is a switch hitter who works well to the body. The most recent clash between the pair came at the European qualification event where Khyzhniak dominated en route to a decision victory.

The man Backshi defeated in the final arguably got more press than him. Eumir Marcial (Philippines) became a bit of a sensation, the southpaw was a good mover with a great deal of speed and power. He throws a strong 1-2 but can often not return his hands to guard, which saw Backshi score a crucial knock down in the final. He has already had his professional debut under the watchful eye of Freddie Roach. Remind you of anyone? The best professional record in this field is Wilfried Ntsengue (Cameroon). The 23-year-old is 9-0 as a professional, having not fought anyone with a losing record. He won silver at the 2018 Commonwealth Games and fought in the 2016 Olympics where he was a flag bearer. He fights with a low lead but has a strong jab which his athletic frame can pump out. He may well struggle with the lack of rest between fights and short bouts. Darrelle Valsaint Jr (Haiti) is another professional, based in Florida, with a 2-0 record. Nicknamed the blast, he is a powerful southpaw but will be only 19 when the Olympics happen and has barely any senior international experience. Another professional is Arman Darchinyan (Armenia) who is 1-0. He has a relentless gas tank, looking to work on the inside, hardly ever taking a backwards step. He mixes his punches up to the head and body but his defence mainly relies on having a high guard. Francisco Veron (Argentina) is a 22-year-old who has gone 3-0. He has shown a lot of power as a professional but not in the amateur ranks. He too often throws just a single shot though and the low lead often leads him able to be countered.

One of the expected threats was going to be from Uzbekistan. Many believed it would be Israil Madrimov or Saidjamshid Jafarov with either being a serious challenger for gold. Instead it will be Fanat Kakhramonov (Uzbekistan). The southpaw is not considered the same level of threat. Most of his attacks come from his lead hand, mixing up jabs with loopier shots. However, defensively he can be lax and is probably too hittable. At the World Championships, he lost in the third round to Hebert Conceicao (Brazil). He is a switch hitter but tends to mainly operate in orthodox. He keeps the lead hand low, looking to draw opponents in and countering effectively with his speedy hands. Only 23, he went on to win World Championship bronze. That same year he won Pan American Games silver. At the other end of the age spectrum, Aaron Prince (Trinidad and Tobago) finally made his first Olympics at 35, becoming only the fourth boxer from the Caribbean island to ever qualify. He is a powerful puncher but his lack of speed in his lateral movement may see him struggle to evade opponents. There is another boxer based in Trinidad and Tobago. Eldric Sella Rodriguez (Refugee Team) has left Venezuela amid ongoing poverty and shortages. He keeps his lead hand low and looks to attack with speed. Another 35-year-old that will compete is Vitali Bandarenka (Belarus). He has mainly lost whenever he has stepped up but is at his best when he can get his punch off first. He mainly operates with a tight guard but when he is throwing combinations, he can move his head.

The one notable opponent he has a win over is Ashish Kumar (India). He was the silver medalist at the 2019 Asian Championships. Tall and rangy, he prefers to be the aggressor in fights but is adaptable, often keeping his hands low. He was upset at the 2019 World Championship by Tuohetaerbieke Tanglatihan (China). Another tall fighter he likes to lead, looking to land his big right hand but often remains hittable as he does not get his head off the centre line. Tanglatihan lost in the next round to Shahin Mousavi (Iran). He has won bronze at the last two Asian Championships and his style will make him a tough fight for anyone. He looks to hit and hug his opponent, shutting off any opportunities for them to work. Given the quick nature of the tournaments, it also brings into play the possibility of a head clash. One of the more dangerous boxers in the weight class is Abilkhan Amankul (Kazakhstan). He was the World Championship silver medalist in 2017 and has a litany of medals in Asian tournaments, however no gold. He missed the 2019 World Championships through injury and was ably backed up by Tursynbay Kulakhmet who won bronze. Amankul is a southpaw that has always been highly touted giving he was a brilliant youth boxer. He is a stalking boxer looking to stay on the edge of range where he can pick shots. He is willing to get in a war and has the strength to make opponents pay for that.

Andrej Csemez (Slovakia) was another good youth boxer, losing in the semi final of the 2016 European Youth Championship. He also lost in the semi final of the 2019 European Games to take bronze. He moves impressively with fast feet and picks his punches well. He has recovered from a serious car accident which saw him break two vertebrae. Younes Nemouchi (Algeria) was not supposed to be the competitor, but a last minute illness allowed him to take his place in qualifying where he went through. He is a boxer who lives on the back foot. In the qualification tournament he lost to David Tshama (Congo). He likes to come forward, looking to get to mid range and fire off combinations. He works at a serious pace that could trouble some boxers. The final African qualifier is David Ssemujju (Uganda). He won silver at the African Games in 2019 but has lost most of his bigger fights. Euri Cedeno (Dominican Republic) is another contender but has often run into Arlen Lopez during competitions, losing to him three times. The long limbed southpaw has brilliant head movement. Giorgi Kharabadze (Georgia) was the runner up of the 2018 under-22 European Championships. Only 5’9, he lost to Darchinyan in the European qualifier but was probably unfortunate to not get the decision. He is very hittable but works a high tempo, switching from head to body. He beat Adam Charloi (Sweden). The southpaw is pretty out of depth here although he did beat Trey Isley a few years ago.

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