Olympic Preview – Flyweight

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Olympic boxing expert Matt Donnellan continues his look at the opposition for Irish fighters in Rio.

Today it’s the turn of the flyweights where Ireland will be represented by Belfast’s Brendan Irvine. The St Paul’s ABC 20 year old holds an underage win over the current World light fly champ Argilagos, as well victories against Asenov, Konki and Touba with a loss to Abagyran in his short 52 kg career. The Wee Rooster, a 2015 European Games silver medalist at 49kg, has been at the higher weight for less than a year but has Rio medal aspirations.

Other Qualifiers

Julião Neto (Brazil). Host place. His best days are behind him but he did beat Kharroubi in an Olympic Test Event in Rio. A taste of things to come?
Major Honours: 2012 Olympian, American Championships gold (2010) and bronze (2013), PanAmerican Games bronze (2011).

Yosbany Veitía (Cuba). Lost to Ryan Burnett at the 2010 World youths but is a WSB stalwart despite recent losses to Fatych and Sattibayev. Has lost to Vargas, Finol and Mamishzada (in the 2015 World Championships final) since going up to 114lbs, but has beaten Jianguan, Kharroubi and de los Santos.
Major Honours: At light flyweight – 2012 Olympian, World Championships bronze (2013), PanAmerican Games silver (2011).
At flyweight – World Championships silver (2015), American Championships silver (2015).

Jeyvier Jesus Cintron (Puerto Rico). Beat Mamishzada and Sattibayev in the WSB. He lost narrowly to Vargas in the PanAm Games and to Touba in the WSB.
Major Honours: 2012 Olympian

Misha Aloyan (Russia). Some great wins years ago and beat Latipov in 2013. Currently APB champion and defeated Emigdion.
Major Honours: Olympic bronze (2012), World Championships gold (2011, 2013) and bronze (2009), European Championships gold (2010), World University Championships silver (2013).

Elias Emigdion (Mexico). Tough, typical Mexican, has only lost to Aloyan in the APB, and holds wins over Martinez and Avila.
Major Honours: None.

Achraf Kharroubi (Morocco). WSB boxer, pushed Veitía to a 2-1 decision and beat useful Ukranian Fatych.
Major Honours: African Championships silver (2015).

Elvin Mamishzada (Azerbaijan). World and European Games champion. Has Ali, Flissi, Veitía, Touba, Picardi and Asenov. Lost to Paddy Barnes in 2010.
Major Honours: At light flyweight – European Championships silver (2010)
At flyweight – World Championships gold (2015), European Games gold (2015), European Championships bronze (2013).

Fernando Martinez (Argentina). Moves between Light-Fly and Fly with more success at the lower weight, has also lost to Finol and Jianguan. Big wins over Picardi and Latipov in the APB but lost to Emigdion. Won America qualifier with good victories over de los Santos and Avila.
Major Honours: None.

Leonel de los Santos (Dominican Republic). Moved up from light fly and has beat Cintron but has lost to Vargas and Veitta. Qualified in the Americas with great wins over Vargas and Finol.
Major Honours: American Championships silver (2013).

Mohamed Flissi (Algeria). The main man in Africa and was a former top light-fly. Now in the APB after a spell in the WSB where he beat Paddy Barnes in 2014. Other wins include Cappai, Velasquez, Lourenço, and Lu Bin. Aloyan beat him, as did Veitia and Zhakipov. Overcame Jiminez at the Worlds before falling to Mamishzada. Recently lost to Usenaliyev from Kazakhstan who failed to reach the Games.
Major Honours: At light flyweight – World Championships silver (2013), African Games bronze (2011).
At flyweight: World Championships bronze (2015), African Championships gold (2014), African Games gold (2015).

Moroke Mokhotho (Lesotho). It’s crazy that he is at the Games as he has no chance. He replaces SikhocNqothole (South Africa) who qualified but his federation wouldn’t enter him.
Major Honours: African Games bronze (2015).

Ronald Serugo (Uganda). See above. For what it’s worth, he beat Moroke.
Major Honours: At light flyweight – 2008 Olympian, African Games bronze (2011).

Shakhobiddin Zoirov (Uzbekistan) Beat Zatipov and has split decision wins over Jianguan and Abgaryan. Won the 2016 Asian qualifier.
Major Honours: Asian Championships silver (2015, 2013), Asian Games silver (2014)

Hu Jianguan (China). Beat Sattibayev and Zoirov recently but also lost to Veitía and previously to Zoirov.
Major Honours: World Championships bronze (2015), Asian Championships bronze (2015).

Olzhas Sattibayev (Kazakhstan). Asian champion. Has beaten Asenov, Zoirov, and Veitía (in the WSB). Lost to Jianguan in the Asian qualifiers. Also, he lost out to Mick Conlan, 18-17, back in 2011. The Kazakh looked very good sparring Barnes in Dublin recently.
Major Honours: Asian Championships gold (2015) and bronze (2011).

Muhammad Ali (Britain). Talented winner of Euro qualifier. Lost to Asenov in the European championship final but beat him in the Olympic qualifiers in Samsun.
Major Honours: European Championships silver (2015), European Youth gold (2014), World Youth silver (2014), Olympic Youth bronze (2014).

Narek Abgaryan (Armenia). Beat Picardi and Irvine in the Euro qualifiers but has lost to too many, including Michael Conlan to be considered a candidate.for gold.
Major Honours: European Under-23 bronze (2012).

Daniel Asenov (Bulgaria). The European champion has wins over Ali, Jianguan, Butdee, Willie Donohue, and Frankie Cleary, but lost to Irvine in a play-off for a Rio place. He won the final qualifier with wins over de la Neive, Konki, Eker, Vargas. Has also lost to Ali and Mamishzada (split decision) and Sattibayev.
Major Honours: European Championships gold (2015), European Youth silver (2014).

Selcuk Eker (Turkey). The 24 year old has dropped down from bantam where he defeated Njangiru (WSB) and De Jesus, but lost to top men like Nevin and Butsenko. He also lost a split to Ashfaq. He beat Avila and lost to Asenov at the final World Olympic qualifier but clinched his place by reaching the semi.
Major Honours: 2012 Olympian.

Elie Konki (France). A surprise qualifier getting there because he lost to the eventual winner Asenov in the last World qualifier. Irvine beat him 2-1 in the Euro qualifier.
Major Honours: EU Championships silver (2014).

Kharkhüügiin Enkh-Amar (Mongolia). Had a great 2013 beating Aloyan, Mamishzada and Latipov. He seemed to lose his way for a while but in the last World qualifier booked his place by defeating Jiminez before losing to Vargas via injury. If he regains his best form, he could spring some surprises.
Major Honours: None.

Yoel Finol (Venezuela). A South American prodigy. Not yet twenty. He is the Americas champion by virtue of beating Veitía, Jiminez and Fernando Martinez. As a light-fly beat Yubergen Martinez, Hernandez but lost to Paddy Barnes and Argilagos. Surprisingly Finol lost to Avila in Doha at the Worlds and to Vargas in the World Olympic qualifier but redeemed himself at the WSB/APB qualifier in his home country by beating Touba and Fatich to win gold there. Could be anything.
Major Honours: At light flyweight – PanAmerican Games bronze (2014)
At flyweight – American Championships gold (2015)

David Avila (Colombia). Solid semi-veteran. Won’t win but will give most a scare. Lost in the Americas and Pan-Am’s to Veitía but qualified in the WSB/APB last chance, beating Fatich in a play-off after losing to Touba. He surprised Finol at the Worlds before losing to…Veitia again! Vargas has topped him too as has Emigdion, Velasquez, Eker and Ramirez. Neto and Avila have shared a couple of dukes and de los Santos and Jimenez are in his win ledger.
Major Honours: At light flyweight – PanAmerican Games bronze (2009)
At flyweight – American Championships bronze (2015), PanAmerican Games bronze (2015).

Hamza Touba (Germany). Made it through in the last WSB/APB event defeating Fatich before losing to Finol. Has a win over Barnes from 2012 (in Germany), as well as triumphs over Eker, Neto, Cintron, and a good Russian Vetkin. However he blows hot and cold. Mick Conlan has beaten him as has Mamishzada, Sattibayev and an unknown Korean Kim In-Kyu at the Doha Worlds.
Major Honours: European Games bronze (2015), European Under-23 bronze (2012).

Antonio Vargas (USA). Great prospect. Beat Kharroubi in the WSB and at the World qualifiers he defeated Finol, the good veteran Italian Picardi and Enkh-Amar before Asenov beat him in the final. He had won the Pan-Ams beating de los Santos, Jiminez, Cintron and Veitia in 2015 when only 18 after defeating fellow Rio Olympians Neto and Avila in the qualifiers. Lost on a split 2-1 to that other great American prospect, Shaktur Stevenson in 2014. Can win gold.
Major Honours: PanAmerican Games gold (2015).

Matt’s Picks
This is the one division where Europe isn’t the strongest region, both America and Asia having the edge. Mamishzada, Ali, and Asenov have all showed flashes as has Brendan Irvine. The longer it goes on, Irvine will grow into the weight and certainly can medal. A lot of the top men will be coming down from APB and WSB distances and could struggle with the pace. This division sees no outstanding gold prospect but rather as many as twelve potential winners. I would include Irvine in that lot.

Any of Vietía, Aloyan, Mamishzada, Vargas, Jianguan, Zoirov, De los Santos, Sattibayev, Ali, Flissi, Emigdion and Irvine could top the podium. Indeed Abgaryan, Martinez, Cintron, or the home boy Neto could defeat any of the above too. Add in Asenov, Finol , Avila, Touba, and Enkh-Amar and there will be very few easy fights here.

I fancy Vargas, and Brendan can medal.

You could turn this top ten on it’s head, or even the top twenty. Personally I really like Irvine’s style but here goes with my rankings.

1- Aloyan
2 – Mamishzada
3 – Sattibayev
4 – Vargas
5 – Veitia
6 – Emigdion
7 – Ali
8 – Irvine
9 – Asenov
10 – De los Santos

Photo Credit: Ricardo Guglielminotti – The Fighting Irish (@ThefIrish).

Joe O'Neill

Reporting on Irish boxing the past five years. Work has appeared on irish-boxing.com, Boxing News, the42.ie, and local and national media. Provide live ringside updates, occasional interviews, and special features on the future of Irish boxing. email: joneill6@tcd.ie