Olympic Preview – Lightweight

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Olympic expert Matt Donnellan looks at the lightweight class for Rio

Nothing gives me greater pleasure than analyzing a 60kg Olympic field that includes David Oliver Joyce. A true warrior of Irish amateur boxing. Lomachenko, Frampton and Oscar Valdez were part of his early learning curve. Wins over Cordina,Valentino, McComb, Eranosyan, Gokcek, Abdurashidov, Conceição, Abdrakhmanov and Oumiha, but Abdrakhimov, Tojibaev (dubiously), and Cordina have managed to get the better of DOJ in recent times. Mightn’t win gold but the man that beats him will know he was in a fight.

Other Qualifiers:

Lazaro Alvarez (Cuba). The strong favourite having won the World title at 56kg in 2011 (beating Luke Campbell) and at 60kg in 2013 (beating Conceição) and 2015 (beating Selimov). How good was JJ Nevin who boxed his ears off at the London Olympics? Alvarez also beat Melian, Cordina, Berik Abdrakhmanov, Adlan Abdurashidov, Benbaziz. Lazaro, but Conceição did beat him in the American championship final.
Major Honours: At bantamweight – Olympic bronze (2012), World Championships gold (2011), PanAmerican Games gold (2011)
At lightweight – World Championships gold (2013, 2015), PanAmerican Games gold (2015), American Championships silver (2015)

Albert Selimov (Azerbaijan). All-time great. He won the World title in 2007, defeating the great Lomachenko in the final. Albert lost to him at the following year’s Olympics but won Euro gold in 2010, beating Eric Donovan in the semi. In the WSB he has lost only to Valentino and defeated Alvarez 2-1 in 2014 and Balderas in 2015. At the European Games in Baku he won Gold, defeating Sean McComb in the semi and Oumiha in the final. At the Worlds in Doha he again beat Oumiha, McComb (2-1) and Conceição before losing on an injury to Alvarez in the final.
Major Honours: At featherweight – World Championships gold (2007), European Championships gold (2006).
At lightweight – World Championships silver (2015) and bronze (2009), European Championships gold (2010), European Games gold (2015).

Berik Abdrakhmanov (Kazakhstan). Has beaten Arcon, Zorrilla, Harutunjan before losing to Alvarez (2-1) in the Worlds semi in 2013. Beat Oumiha and Cordina in 2014 but lost to Joyce in the Chemistry Cup final. In the APB he won and lost the title to Tojibaev and also beat Suarez, Joyce, and Conceição. Only recently Berik handled Gary Cully with ease at the Stadium. He had a strange loss to Obada al-Kasbeh of Jordan at the 2014 Asian Games.
Major Honours: World Championships bronze (2013), Asian Championships gold (2013).

Adlan Abdurashidov (Russia). A WSB boxer since 2010 with wins over Valentino and Tojibaev but with losses to Alvarez, Joyce and Benbaziz. Lost to Eranosyan in the Europeans and has split a lot of fights with Skurdelis. As Russians go, a bit weak.
Major Honours: World University Games gold (2013).

Carlos Balderas (USA). A lucky qualifier through the WSB, lost to Cabrera in the PanAms and to Selimov in WSB.
Major Honours: None

Robson Conceição (Brazil). You wouldn’t want to draw this guy in Rio. He is up there with Alvarez and Selimov as a current great. Has appeared in three World Championships, Silver in 2013 (lost to Alvarez) and Bronze in 2015 (lost to Selimov), while Lomochenko beat him at the 2011 games (19-18), Alvarez in 2013 and Selimov in 2015. He also boxed in the 2008 and 2012 Olympics. Has won and lost to Joyce, Otgondalai, and Alvarez. Other wins include Suarez, Cabrera, Valentino, Cordina, Adlan and Abdurashidov. A loss to Abdrakhmanov in the APB and to Elnur Abdurakhimov in the Worlds third place playoff might suggest he’s slipping a tad.
Major Honours: World Championships silver (2013) and bronze (2015), PanAmerican Games silver (2011), American Championships gold (2013, 2015).

Hurshid Tojibaev (Uzbekistan). The APB champion. Tojibaev boxed in the 2008 Olympics at 57 Kg. He went 4-3 in WSB contests including becoming the first visitor to win a WSB bout in Cuba. He then joined APB and went 6-1 defeating Joyce, Polyanskiy, Conceição, Suarez, and won and lost to Abdrakhmanov. Beat off good Uzbeks to get the nod.
Major Honours: Asian Championships silver (2009).

Luis Cabrera (Venezuela). Beat Lopez 2-1 in Americas Qualifier. Beat Baldaras 3-0 at the PanAms but lost to Oumiha in the Worlds in Doha.
Major Honours: American Championships bronze (2015),

Teofimo Lopez (Honduras). The winner of US Olympic trial but place had already gone to Balderas. Then he switched allegiance and boxed for Honduras, defeating Perrin to secure a Rio place. He is talented but inexperienced.
Major Honours: None

Ignacio Perrin (Argentina). WSB boxer with only one win out of seven, Conlan and Selimov among the better fighters that beat him. Perrin is a lucky qualifier. Beat Lopez 2-1 in final.
Major Honours: None

Abdel al-Mahmoud (Egypt). Won Asian qualifier but has lost to Benbaziz and Narimatsu. Not Olympic class.
Major Honours: African Championships silver (2013).

Reda Benbaziz (Algeria). Unbeatable in Africa and very capable. Benbaziz lost to Robenilson DeJesus at the 2013 Worlds. Joined the WSB and beat Dalakliev of Bulgaria, Abdurashidov of Russia but lost to Alvarez and Valentino. The Algerian lost to Abdurakhimov of Uzbekistan in the Worlds. Has defeated Allisop also and is easily Africa’s top hope.
Major Honours: At bantamweight – African Games silver (2011)
At lightweight – African Championships gold (2015), African Games gold (2015)

Andrique Allisop (Seychelles). The islander is, I’m afraid, a no hoper. Lost recently to Benbaziz.
Major Honours: None.

Dorjnyambuu Otgondalai (Mongolia). The In-form winner of the Asian championship, Asian Games and Asian Olympic qualifier. Suarez, Narimatsu, and two good boxers unlucky not to make the games, Abdurakhimov (Uzb) and Safiullin (Kaz) were among his victims. Valentino was defeated in the Worlds but Abdurakhimov got revenge by defeating him. In the past he has lost to Narimatsu, Suarez, Al-Kasheb of Jordan, Conceição, Jiawei and to JJ Nevin – on a countback – at the 2011 World championships. The inconsistent Mongolian has also defeated Conceição.
Major Honours: At bantameight – Asian Championships silver (2014).
At lightweight – Asian Championships gold (2015), Asian Games gold (2014), World University Games bronze (2013).

Charly Suarez (Philippines). Experienced but probably just not good enough. An APB fighter he has defeated Valentino but lost to Tojibaev and Conceição. Has defeated Abdurakhimov, Narimatsu, Al-Kasheb, Shan Jun and Otgondalai but lost to Safiullin, Otgondalai and Berik Abdrakhmanov.
Major Honours: Asian Games silver (2014).
Daisuke Narimatsu (Japan). Beat Shan Jun in the Asian play-off. He won Asian bronze in 2015 losing to Otgondalai. He also lost in 2013 to Suarez but holds victories over Yunusov, and Otgondalai. Narimatsu lost to Belyak of the Ukraine at the Worlds in Doha after beating Abdel al-Mahmoud.
Major Honours: Asian Championships bronze (2015).

Sofiane Oumiha (France). Won and lost to George Bates and lost to DOJ. The Frenchman lost to Cordina but in 2015 reached the European Games final, losing to Selimov. Beat Cabrera at the 2015 Worlds before losing to Selimov again. He finally won the Euro qualifier beating Cordina and Gozcek.
Major Honours: European Games silver (2015).

Joe Cordina (Great Britain): The Welshman has been around. 2-1 down in his series with Joyce but won the last one. Defeats suffered too to Conceição, Alvarez, Berik Abdrakhmanov, and Oumiha in the final of the Euro qualifier. Beat Eronosyan to win European gold in 2015, also beat Valentino.
Major Honours: European Championships gold (2015), Commonwealth Games bronze (2014).

Shan Jun (China). A lucky qualifier from Doha. Got a good draw and when he met his first name opponent, Yunusov, he lost 3-0. A WSB boxer, he lost to Alvarez in that format.
Major Honours: None

Anvar Yunosov (Tajikistan). An experienced and accomplished veteran of the 2008 and 2012 Olympics. Beat Joyce 2-1 in 2014. Alvarez, Oscar Valdez, Zhang Jaiwei, Butdee, Eranossyan and Abdrakhmanov are on the list of good fighters that defeated him down the years but in turn he has bested Teixeira, Vodopyanov and others. Beat Valentino, Jun, and Gokcek before losing to Lacruz in the final qualifier. Probably slipping.
Major Honours: At flyweight – Asian Championships bronze (2007)
At bantamweight – World Championships bronze (2013), Asian Championships gold (2011) and bronze (2013).

Enrico Lacruz (Netherlands). A much improved performer. Lost to Butsenko in 2012 and beat Avagyan and Gamal Yafai the following year. Our own Kurt Walker fell to him 2-1 in the Chemistry Cup in 2014 and last year started with a WSB loss to Nikitin of Russia, a 56kg Olympic qualifier. Enrico annexed the 2015 Chemistry Cup, overcoming Otgondalai in the process. Won bronze at the Euros, Cordina outpointing him as did Valentino at the Worlds in Doha. Erseker, Chu-En and Yunusov were all defeated as the Dutchman won a surprise Gold at the Baku qualifier.
Major Honours: None.

Hakan Erşeker (Qatar). A German somehow boxing for Qatar. Hakan is an APB fighter where he defeated Gicharu and lost to Myeong at 56kg. Lost to Thapa at the World championship in Doha after edging out WaraWara in the 56kg division. After a switch up to 60kg, he upset Eranosyan at the World qualifier and his loss to the eventual winner Lacruz at the quarter final stage led to his qualification for Brazil.
Major Honours: None.

Lai Chu-en (Taiwan). Won three fights at the World qualifiers before Lacruz outpointed him in the semi. Previous form included a loss to Suarez and an early exit at the Asian Championships so probably in a bit over his head here.
Major Honours: None.

Amnat Ruenroeng (Thailand). Boxed as a light-fly in the 2008 Games and suffered defeats back then to the great Shiming and Ayolan. Turned pro and amassed a 17-1 record winning the IBF World Flyweight title, including defeating Shiming, only losing it in May of this year. Now 36 he was unimpressive in qualification in the APB/WSB route, getting a very dubious decision over Bril of Germany (an old victim of DOJ) and then edged past Tommasonne before losing on a stoppage to Delgado, claiming a sore shoulder. Ruenroeng was boxing at 112 pounds in May and the limit of 132 seems just too much for him.
Major Honours: As a light flyweight – World Championships bronze (2007), Asian Games bronze (2010).
IBF flyweight champion (2013-2015 including 5 successful defences).

Carmine Tommasonne (Italy). A 32 year-old fully fledged professional for six years. He sports an 18-0 record mainly against poor opposition but he stepped it up in 2014, winning the Italian and European Union titles a featherweight. Carmine was a former decent amateur at national level with losses to Valentino and Parrinello, both familiar to Irish fans. He qualified by winning a play-off at the APB/WSB losing firstly to fellow pro Ruenroeng and then defeating Yilmaz of Turkey 2-1. (Sean McComb defeated Yilmaz 3-0 in Doha). He shouldn’t feature at the business end of the Games.
Major Honours: Italian and EBU-EU professional featherweight titles.

Lindolfo Delgado (Mexico). Another fighter beaten 3-0 by McComb in Doha. Delgado did defeat Balderas but every time he met a top class operator he lost; Alvarez, Conceição and Valentino. Respectable WSB record but lost there to Benbaziz. Beat Yilmaz and then stopped Ruenroeng in the final of the APB/WSB. Only 21 so still improving but a loss to Berhane of Sweden at the World qualifiers would suggest he won’t trouble the top men.
Major Honours: PanAmerican silver (2015).

Thadius Katua (Papua New Guinea). A tripartite entry and a decent young boxer. He beat Ireland’s Tiernan Bradley 2-1 to win the Commonwealth Youth Gold and also claimed the South Pacific Games 60kg crown. However you would imagine that he is too inexperienced for this level. Hassan from Iraq defeated him in the Asian qualifier and Hassan subsequently lost to Otgondalai.
Major Honours: South Pacific Games gold (2015), Youth Commonwealth gold (2015).

Matt’s picks
There are some great veterans in there, Alvarez, Conceição, Selimov and Joyce but overall a weak weight division. Suarez, Narimatsu and Benbaziz probably not good enough to medal and Balderas, Allisop, Cabrera, Perrin, Lopez and al Mahmoud certainly would need a lot of luck. Unlikely as it seems, the Russian too is average so that leaves the four veterans, plus Cordina and Oumiha who could medal but hardly Gold. Abdrakhmanov, Otgondalai, and Tojibaev are live prospects. Of the later qualifiers, Delgado could pull off a few upsets. DOJ can pick up a medal with a bit of luck.

Anyway here are my ratings;
1 – Alvarez.
2 – Tojibaev
3 – Selimov
4 – Conceição
5 – Joyce
6 – Abdrakhmanov
7 – Otgondalai
8 – Oumiha
9 – Cordina
10 – Suarez

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