Andy Cruz was one of four Cuban gold medalists in boxing at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. | Photo by Buda Mendes/Getty Images
A recap of everything that happened in men’s and women’s boxing at the Tokyo Olympics. The Tokyo Olympics are in the books and produced some very good boxing, with good fights and plenty of names that should make waves in the pro ranks in the next few years. Team USA had its best games in years, even if a men’s gold medal remains elusive since 2004. Cuba topped the medal table with four Olympic champions and 2016 powerhouse Uzbekistan had a very disappointing games with only one medal. Without further ado, let’s look at what happened in each division.
Gold medalist: Galal Yafai (Great Britain)Silver medalist: Carlo Paalam (PhilippinesBronze medalist: Saken Bibossinov (Kazakhstan)Bronze medalist: Ryomei Tanaka (Japan)
Flyweight was the best weight class in terms of action and talent all around the field and I’d expect a bunch of these fighters to make an impact in the pros.
Champion Galal Yafai had a great run, with his high volume approach drowning his opponents and scoring him a win over former world champion Yosvany Veitia on his way to the finals.
Carlo Paalam also got a big upset over reigning Olympic and world champion Shakhobidin Zoirov in the quarter finals. He fell to Yafai’s pace and volume in the final but it was a great run for the Filipino outside fighter.
Outside of the medalists Colombia’s Yuberjen Martinez and Spain’s Gabriel Escobar look very promising for the pro game, Martinez as an agressive pressure fighter and Escobar as a quick handed slick southpaw.
The round of 32 featured some really good fights and some of the losers, notably Koryun Soghomoyan, Cosmin Girleanu, and Ramon Quiroga look like they weren’t a good fit for the amateurs but will be worth keeping an eye on if they turn pro.
Gold medalist: Albert Batyrgaziev (Russian Olympic Committee)Silver medalist: Duke Ragan (USA)Bronze medalist: Lazaro Alvarez (Cuba)Bronze medalist: Samuel Takyi (Ghana)
Batyrgaziev deprived 3-time world champion Lazaro Alvarez of the gold medal that has eluded him for three Olympic games now. The Russian used a very high pace, smart strike selection and body head combos to overwhelm the Cuban’s technical brilliance in one of the best performances of the tournament.
Duke Ragan had a rough time in his first fight, a very debatable decision win over Kistohurry but had a relatively easy path to the final afterwards. Kurt Walker’s questionable win over reigning world champion Mirzakhalilov cleared the biggest threat on his side of the bracket. He fell short in the final but exceeded expectations with a silver medal.
Samuel Takyi’s turned one of the luckiest possible draws into a bronze medal but at least 4 or 5 fighters were better and didn’t medal in that division.
Chatchai Butdee (36, 2013 world bronze medalist) was in great form for his last games. He looked excellent in his first two fights and gave Alvarez a very tough fight in the quarter finals. Had the draw been kinder to him he could have gone home with a medal but it was a great last hurrah nevertheless for the Thai veteran.
Iran’s Danial Shahbakhsh (21) looked very good in his opening round fight and was giving a very good account of himself against Alvarez before he got stopped due to a cut reopening. Despite his round of 16 exit, he is my break out fighter in this division and the rest of his career should be interesting to follow.
Gold medalist: Andy Cruz (Cuba)Silver medalist: Keyshawn Davis (USA)Bronze medalist: Harry Garside (Australia)Bronze medalist: Hovhannes Bachkov (Armenia)
Cruz is, quite simply, the best amateur fighter in the world. He dominated on his way to the final but Davis proved to be a very worthy opponent and the final was a technical gem and cemented the Cuban as the Val Barker Trophy leading contender for me.
Davis is a brilliant fighter that probably would have gotten a gold medal in most divisions. He delivered one of the best American Olympic performances of this century and looks set to have a brilliant pro career.
Bronze medalist Hovhannes Bachkov provided some great entertainment in his run and his war with Chalabiyev looks like a lock for the best amateur fight of the year.
Gold medalist: Roniel Iglesias (Cuba)Silver medalist: Pat McCormack (Great Britain)Bronze medalist: Andrey Zamkovoy (Russian Olympic Committee)Bronze medalist: Aidan Walsh (Ireland)
2012 gold medalist Roniel Iglesias got his second gold despitehaving the toughest draw of any of the medalists. A great performance in what might be the last hurrah of the 32 year old Cuban on the international scene.
Pat McCormack as expected before the game was also the one of the best fighters in the tournament and will be one to look out for soon in the pro ranks.
Ireland’s Aidan Walsh capitalized on an cupcake draw to make the semi-finals but injured himself celebrating his quarter finals win and was unable to fight in the semis. He wasn’t likely to advance further but that is still something that might keep him up at night for a while.
Gold medalist: Hebert Conceiçao (Brazil)Silver medalist: Oleksandr Khyzhniak (Ukraine)Bronze medalist: Gleb Bakshi (Russian Olympic Committee)Bronze medalist: Eumir Marcial (Philippines)
Brazil’s Conceiçao scored the best KO of the games in the final against 2017 world champion Khyzhniak, and he needed it because he was down on all of the scorecards entering the final round. He also beat 2019 world champion Gleb Bakshi and world silver medalist Amankul on his way to the final. A great run and a very deserving champion.
Khyznhiak was one of the most exciting fighters to watch in these games, he is a relentless pressure fighter and his semi-final with Marcial was an absolute wars. I’m not sure how his all-offense style will fare in longer pro fights but I’m very excited to find out!
Men’s light heavyweight:
Gold medalist: Arlen Lopez (Cuba)Silver medalist: Benjamin Whittaker (Great Britain)Bronze medalist: Loren Alfonso (Azerbaijan)Bronze medalist: Imam Khataev (Russian Olympic Committee)
A division predictably dominated by Lopez who was only really challenged in the semis by Loren Alfonso but erased any doubts by buzzing him and forcing the referee to give Alfonso a 10 count in the final rounds.
Whittaker did well to make the finals, even though his movement heavy style could be frustrating and low on clean punching at times.
Russia’s Imam Khataev was the break out fighter of the division. He upset reigning world champion Nurdauletov and scored a brutal KO over Jalidov. A very powerful and aggressive pressure fighter that should be a treat to watch in the pro ranks.
Gold medalist: Julio Cesar La Cruz (Cuba)Silver medalist: Muslim Gadzhimagomedov (Russian Olympic Committee) Bronze medalist: Abner Teixeira (Brazil)Bronze medalist: David Nyika (New Zealand)
The legendary Julio Cesar La Cruz cemented himself as one the amateur all-time greats by moving up and winning a second gold medal. The Cuban once again dominated in style with his flashy head movement and low hands and outside of a tight quarter finals cruised on his way to the title.
Gadzhimagomedov lived up to expectations but as his path wasn’t too tough and he got dominated in the final, he got a bit overshadowed by La Cruz’ performance.
Emmanuel Reyes came home empty handed but he knocked out and likely retired 2016 silver medalist Levit and gave Cruz his toughest fight.
David Nyika also impressed in a good bronze medal run and should be one to keep an eye on.
Men’s super heavyweight:
Gold medalist: Bakhodir Jalolov (Uzbekistan)Silver medalist: Richard Torrez (USA)Bronze medalist: Frazer Clarke (Great Britain)Bronze medalist: Kamshybek Kunkabayev (Kazakhstan)
Jalolov was the overwhelming favorite for good reason as there didn’t seem to be anyone equipped to handle a 6’7 man with his agility and skill.
It is a bit unfortunate that Mourad Aliev was the victim of a unjust disqualification in the quarterfinals as I feel he would have been the most interesting challenge for Jalolov.
Torrez had a fantastic run to the finals where he scored upsets over Cuba’s Pero and 2 time world silver medalist Kunkabayev. His fight against Jalolov was a lost cause but at 22, Torrez is a heavyweight baby and the future could be bright for him.
Gold medalist: Stoyka Krasteva (Bulgaria)Silver medalist: Buse Naz Cakiroglu (Turkey)Bronze medalist: Tsukimi Namiki (Japan)Bronze medalist: Huang Hsiao-wen (Chinese Taipei)
Two-time world silver medalist took the gold with a solid veteran performance over the tournament, using her experience and size very well to earn the gold medal. Cakiroglu also had a very good run, with a very nice win over world champion Huang Hsiao-wen in the semis.
However the fighter that caught my eye the most was bronze medalist Tsukimi Namiki. She was fighting at least a division above her weight and though she couldn’t overcome Krasteva’s size and experience, her movement and boxing skill bode well for the future.
Gold medalist: Sena Irie (Japan)Silver medalist: Nesthy Petecio (Philippines)Bronze medalist: Karriss Artingstall (Great Britain)Bronze medalist: Irma Testa (Italy)
Irie is a very good young fighter with quick feet, a nice one-two and a good eye for counters. Her final was unfortunately a clinch fest mostly due to Petecio constantly running in. Irie’s semi final with Artingstall was a much more pleasant fight to watch and a better reflection of the 20 years old skills.
Gold medalist: Kellie Harrington (Ireland)Silver medalist: Beatriz Ferreira (Brazil)Bronze medalist: Sudaporn Seesondee (Thailand)Bronze medalist: Mira Potkonen (Finland)
Harrington was in my opinion by some margin the most skilled women’s boxer at these games and would be my pick for the Val Barker. She is very good defensively, great at distance, comfortable in both stances and should make a very good pro.
Though Ferreira came in a clear second best to Harrington, she is a talented fighter worth following too even if I’m not quite sure there weren’t better fighters than her on Harrington’s side of the bracket.
Sudaporn Seesondee and 20-year-old Caroline Dubois were also impressive and their fight was the best boxing match of the women’s tournament. Overall, this was the best female weight division at these games.
Gold medalist: Busenaz Surmeneli (Turkey)Silver medalist: Gu Hong (China)Bronze medalist: Lovlina Borgohain (India)Bronze medalist: Oshae Jones (USA)
Welterweight is a new addition to these games and I do not think the women’s talent is there yet to support it and middleweight at the same time. Regardless, Surmeneli is a very good fighter with great inside instincts but I would have much rather seen her against Lauren Price than Gu Hong. Well, maybe in the pros!
Gold medalist: Lauren Price (Great Britain)Silver medalist: Li Qian (China)Bronze medalist: Nouchka Fontijn (Netherlands)Bronze medalist: Zemfira Magomedalieva (Russian Olympic Committee)
Honestly this wasn’t a very good division but it’s nice that the shortest and best fighter in in Lauren Price. She triumphed over two competent fighters much taller than her in the medal rounds and richly deserved her title. Hopefully she turns pro soon because Claressa Shields needs opponents.
Zemfira Magomedalieva on the other hand is the worst bronze medalist I have ever seen and a perfect example of how the addition of 70kg to the games has depleted this division of talent.