Asia/Oceania boxers set for Olympic qualifier

Everything you need to know about the Tokyo 2020 boxing qualifying event in Amman, Jordan.

By Ben Dirs ·

The Asia/Oceania Olympic boxing qualifying tournament finally gets underway at the Prince Hamzah Hall in Amman, Jordan on Tuesday 3 March.

The event was meant to have taken place in Wuhan, China in February but was postponed and relocated because of the coronavirus outbreak.

Boxers will be fighting for 63 spots – 41 for men and 22 for women – at this summer’s Olympic Games in Tokyo.

The men will compete across eight weight classes, from flyweight (52kg) to super-heavyweight (+91kg), while the women will compete across five, from flyweight (51kg) to middleweight (75kg).

33 boxers have already booked Olympic places through African qualifying, which took place in Dakar last month.

The European qualifying event takes place in London in March, followed by the Americas qualifying event in Buenos Aires. For those who fail to qualify through their continental event, there will be a second chance at a world tournament in Paris in May.

You can watch all the action from Amman, as well as the other four Olympic qualification tournaments, exclusively digitally on Olympic Channel.

Here's a guide to the qualification system.

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An Asian gold rush?

Asia’s male boxers are expected to win a raft of medals in Tokyo, just as they did at the Rio Games in 2016, where they won 17, and the 2019 World Championships in Yekaterinburg, where they won 15.

Uzbekistan finished top of the medal table in both Brazil and Russia.

Asia’s women are also expected to shine, having won 17 of 40 medals on offer at the 2019 World Championships and eight of 10 gold medals on offer at the previous edition in 2018.

Aside from Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, China and India are expected to perform well in Amman.

Kazakhstan boxers have won gold medals at every Olympics since the country first competed in 1996.

Their most famous son, professional middleweight great Gennady Golovkin, won a silver medal at Athens 2004.

China’s men topped the medal table at the 2019 Asian Championships and their women topped the table at the 2019 Worlds, so are expected to fare well in Jordan.

Japan will be hoping to qualify at least a couple of boxers for their home Olympics, although they were unable to win a medal at the most recent men’s and women’s Worlds and won only two at last year’s Asian Championships.

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Boxers to watch

Among Uzbekistan’s biggest male hopes are reigning world and Olympic flyweight champion Shakhobidin Zoirov, who is also unbeaten in three pro fights; reigning world featherweight champion Mirazizbek Mirzakhalilov; and reigning world super-heavyweight champion Bakhodir Jalolov, who is unbeaten in six pro fights.

Kazakhstan light-heavyweight Bekzad Nurdauletov, who won his country’s only gold at last year’s Worlds, will also defend his title in Amman, while countryman Vassiliy Levit, who won heavyweight silver in Rio and bronze in Yekaterinburg, is bidding to qualify for his second Olympics.

Philippines' middleweight Eumir Marcial is hoping to go one better than his silver medal at the 2019 Worlds and has been taking advice from countryman Manny Pacquiao, one of the greatest fighters of all time.

Li Qian in action at Rio 2016

In the women’s event, China’s best hope is middleweight Li Qian, a bronze medallist at Rio 2016, a former world champion and the reigning Asian champion.

The great Mary Kom, winner of eight World Championships medals and an Olympic bronze in 2012, is bidding to qualify for her second Games. Indian welterweight Lovlina Borgohain, a two-time World Championships bronze-medallist, is also a contender.

Also watch out for Philippines' Nesthy Petecio and Chinese Taipei’s Huang Hsiao-wen, the reigning bantamweight world champion.

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Thunders from Down Under

Also competing in Amman are boxers from Australia and New Zealand, Oceania qualifying having merged with Asia in 2016.

Twenty-year-old Australian super-heavyweight Justis Huni, who won a bronze at the 2019 men’s World Championships, is being tipped to win his country’s first Olympic boxing gold medal, while New Zealand heavyweight David Nyika, a two-time Commonwealth Games champion, is his country’s best hope of an Olympic boxing medal since David Tua won bronze in 1992.

New Zealand heavyweight David Nayika

Also competing are boxers from the Pacific islands, including Tuvalu, Micronesia and Kiribati, whose population is not much more than 100,000.