The class of 2016 – Olympic prospects
By Gav Duthie: Today all our heavyweight world titles belong to two men Anthony Joshua (WBA, IBF, WBO) and Deontay Wilder (WBC). Both men had brief but successful amateur careers which saw Joshua pick up the Olympic Gold medal in 2012 whilst Wilder bagged bronze in 2008. Joshua’s amateur record concluded at 40-3 with Wilder’s at 30-5 and both are undefeated at heavyweight. But what about the most recent crop of heavyweight medalists from 2016. Here we assess how they are developing so far and whom if any are a threat to the crown of Wilder and Joshua.
2012 Gold Medalist
Tony Yoka 5-0 (4)
A talented boxer from France is a rarity and the country has never produced a heavyweight world champion. The closest was Ex-cruiserweight champ Jean Marc Mormeck so Yoka is a big draw in France. The 6″7 athlete is in a spot of trouble just now though despite recently getting through his toughest test to date against David ‘The White Rino’ Allen. Seeing as Yoka missed not one but three drug tests he has been suspended by the French boxing federation for one year. This ruling however did not preclude him from fighting in other countries but Yoka has stuck to his principles and said he doesn’t want to box if outside of France. He is only 26 years old so could probably manage with a year off but I would doubt this would please the French network who is backing him or his big name promoter Richard Schaefer. Furthermore Yoka hasn’t really impressed as a professional. His style is more suited to amateur boxing. He has a good jab and is fast but his work rate can let him down. His finish over Allen in the end was clinical but if he is to take a year out he will need to brush up on his skills or others will overtake him.
2012 Silver Medalist
Joe Joyce 8-0 (8)
Really a polar opposite of Yoka. As he started boxing late in life his technique isn’t perfect by any stretch. He is quite crude and wild but has an endearing infectious energy and he can be brutal to watch in more ways than one. He is already the Commonwealth champion destroying Lenroy Thomas in just 2 rounds with a relentless display. I thought Lenroy with his southpaw stance and nice jab would cause Joyce problems. Lenroy was used by Deontay Wilder for sparring preparation for Luis Ortiz and I thought that experience would be useful. It really wasn’t. Joyce gave him no space to breathe and destroyed him. I will repeat I don’t like Joyce technically but some of what he does hunting his opponents down reminds me on George Foreman. All the current pro’s say he is no good but at the same time nobody wants to fight him. A top boxer should be able to curtail him but it will be interesting to see how he progresses. Despite an impressive win on paper the other week against ex WBC champion Bermane Stiverne many are still unconvinced by his crude style. At 33 years old he is by far the oldest of the Olympic crop so time is against him. He needs big fights.
2016 Bronze Medalist
Ivan Dychko 7-0 (7)
Boxers from Kazakhstan are generally some of the finest amateurs in the world. Dychko was actually the Bronze medalist in 2012 as well as 2016 losing to Anthony Joshua in the semi final in the former. He Lost again to another Brit in Joe Joyce in 2016 2-1 rounds. Dychko is 6″9 and boasts a fine amateur record of 181-18 and has been busy since he turned pro with 7 straight wins via knockout including 5 inside the first round. When i watched him in the Olympics I was a bit conflicted regarding his abilities. He moves extremely well and has great boxing ability for his size and height. However, his stamina seemed really poor despite only being in 3 round fights. So far he is knocking everyone out early so that hasn’t really been tested yet. It will be interesting to see at what level the pressure will get to him. His last fight was a one punch knockout over top journeyman Maurice Harris but that was July 2018 and no word of what his next fight is.
2016 Bronze medalist
Filip Hrgovic 7-0 (5)
To be honest I thought he was robbed in the semi final against Tony Yoka. All the volume was with Hrgovic. I’ve been looking out for this guy since he stopped the Tyson Fury v David Haye fight when he was credited with cutting David pre fight all those years ago. Hrgovic has an amateur record of 74-15 but his style is more suited to the professional game. He is promoted by team Sauerland and they have been keeping him busy. He arguably has the most impressive pro win to date after stopping the normally resilient Amir Mansour in 3 rounds. At only 26 years of age I am quite confident he has a big future in the sport.
I think the next best prospect coming through is Daniel Dubois 9-0 (8) who is fighting Romanian ex title challenger Razvan Cojanu next up. He seems to have the size, speed, strength and power to cause big problems in the division. Another worth talking about us Russian Evgeny Romanov 12-0 (9). There has not been much said about the 33 year olds foray into the paid ranks despite an impressive revord. He is only 6’0 so might struggle at the top end but there is always intrigue with him given the fact he stopped Deontay Wilder as an amateur after landing a succession of powerful right hands.
In my opinion, Hrgovic probably has the best chance to do something as a pro. Joyce is in the lead at the moment but age is not on his side. Yoka has a great chance if he mixes it up and Dychko has great ability for his size but in truth I’m not sure any can dethrone Joshua, Fury or Tyson.
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