Men’s Flyweight (-52kg)
For me this is the best division at this Olympics. Hardly any of this division can be completely counted out, even some of the lesser fighters have the ability to beat some of the favoured fighters. Adding to that is the feeling that none of the top echelon guys are unbeatable.
Amit Panghal is the number one seed but has arguably got one of the tougher draws. Everyone would have been hoping to avoid Hu Jinguan whilst Finol and Martinez are hardly Jianguan. Despite being unseeded, Shakhobidin Zoirov arguably got the best of it despite not being seeded. He was drawn in the same quarter as Mohamed Flissi, probably the weakest of the four seeds. Irvine is also in that quarter but Zoirov should definitely be the one that emerges. The third quarter is headlined by Yosbany Veitia, who will face a tough run. In his opening bout he will likely take on Rodrigo Marte who has a win over him before likely taking on Galal Yafai, who beat him at the World Championships. He has a dangerous path though having to face Alex Winwood or Patrick Chinyemba, in what could be one of the bouts of the first round. The toughest section is the bottom quarter. Billal Bennama is the seeded boxer but will likely have to get through Saken Bibossinov in his first fight and one of his European rivals in either Daniel Asenov or Gabriel Escobar just to medal. Intriguingly, Asenov actually has a good record against both Escobar and Bennama who he has beaten on multiple occasions. Unfortunately, Thitisan Panmot has been forced to withdraw due to injury.
I actually think Jianguan can repeat his success over Panghal from the qualification tournament. In the semi final he would come up against Zoirov who will overcome his toughest foe Flissi in the quarter final. In the semi final I think it will be a cagey affair but Jinguan can get revenge and beat Zoirov to make the final. You could argue it is a good draw for Marte as he has not had to face some of the bigger punchers but given his knockout loss earlier this year, I cannot see him getting through. Instead I could see Yafai edging Veitia with his work rate. In the final quarter I can see a fight fit Bibossinov giving Bennama fits. It may help Bennama that he already has a win over Bibossinov from the Cologne World Cup earlier in the year. It will be a baptism of fire and maybe Asenov is well placed to take advantage. I do think Bennama is good enough at this point to get the win over Asenov but maybe by then the run will catch up to him. Yafai, with his work rate will be a tough opponent and I could see the Brit surprising him. I think class would finally tell in the final as Jianguan would dominate him en route to Chinese gold
🥇Hu Jianguan 🇨🇳
🥈Galal Yafai 🇬🇧
🥉Shakhobidin Zoirov 🇺🇿
🥉Bilal Bennama 🇫🇷
Men’s Featherweight (-57 kg)
Another of the stronger divisions, although there is perhaps less strength in depth at the bottom end of this class.
The top half of this draw is utterly fascinating as the top quarter is incredible tough whilst the second quarter features no big names. Mirzakhalilov is number one seed and will receive a bye before taking on Kurt Walker. To fight him in the quarter final will be between four very good boxers. Galos will take on Temirzhanov and Ragan will fight Kistohurry. This is an incredible tough section and will see people arguing that boxing needs eight seeds. In the second quarter both Takyi and Mulenga receive byes to the second round. Butsenko is a big name but past his best whilst Avila will be hoping to go one further than the last Olympics. Caicedo and Al Wadi round up the section. Lazaro Alvarez is the third seed and will likely make his way through to the quarter final where he will meet up with Peter McGrail, who has a tough route, having to fight Butdee and either Cuello or Shadalov. The bottom section is headlined by Batyrgaziev. In the quarter final he will likely box Tsendbataar as long as he comes through a tough mini section including Aliev and big punching Nguyen.
The opening quarter is a tough one. Mirzakhalilov should make his way through but it is not a nice run. I would not be surprised with any of the four boxers emerging to take him on in the quarter final but he should have too much for them. The second quarter is another landmine but I think Avila can beat Butsenko to get a medal around his neck. The Alvarez v McGrail quarter final in the third quarter is something we should savour if we do get. A repeat of the World Championship semi final, I thought McGrail and his greater work rate won that day, so I have to give him the nod here. Tsendbataar is the man to watch here, with his second round fight almost a guaranteed fun bout before her likely takes on Batyrgaziev. Whilst I would love Tsendbataar to get through, I think the quality of Batyrgaziev would take over and win a decision. It would be a tough bout for him against McGrail as well but I think he can edge the battle of the southpaws, likely going on to meet Mirzakhalilov in the final. There I would once again edge to the improving Russian.
🥇Albert Batyrgaziev 🇷🇺
🥈Mirazizbek Mirzakhalilov 🇺🇿
🥉Ceibar Avila 🇨🇴
🥉Peter McGrail 🇬🇧
Arguably the division with the strongest set of upper echelon talent. Many would point to the