It was a genuinely difficult task to choose the winner of the Val Barker Trophy as the best male competitor at the 2012 Olympics.
One obvious candidate was Vasyl Lomachenko of the Ukraine, who outscored opponents 62-32 on the scorecards on his way to gold in the very competitive lightweight division. Lomachenko was also the boxer who probably carried the heaviest reputation into the London Games.
Then there was Robeisy Ramirez Carrazana, who emerged as a new Cuban superstar by rolling through the flyweight class. The 18-year-old is going to be a threat for years to come. And you certainly couldn’t discount his teammate, Roniel Iglesias Sotolongo, who added a gold medal in the light welterweight division to his bronze in Beijing four years ago.
Oleksandr Usyk of the Ukraine also needed to be considered, as he reversed an unfortunate defeat in the 2008 Games and got a measure of revenge against defending champion Clemente Russo in the heavyweight division.
Shiming Zou of China had to get some attention in this category, considering that he has now won consecutive gold medals in the light flyweight class.
Then of course, there was going to be an awful lot of sentiment for the two British stars who won gold medals in front of their countrymen – super heavyweight Anthony Joshua and bantamweight Luke Campbell.
But the young man recognized as best boxer in these Olympics was Serik Sapiyev of Kazakhstan, and one cannot say that the honor is not well-deserved.
He certainly came into the Games with much in the way of past achievements; in fact, Sapiyev had been a two-time world champion already. But that was in the light welterweight division, and at the welterweight limit he had not won a major world tournament.
That all changed in London.
Sapiyev literally cut a swath through the field, winning his first two bouts (after a bye) by a combined score of 45-20, then defeating Andrey Zamkovoy of Russia rather handily (18-12) to get to the final, where he had to battle Great Britain’s Freddie Evans and a raucous crowd at the ExCel Centre. Undaunted, he dominated throughout the match, winning by a comfortable 17-9 margin to take the gold.
“I have been waiting for this moment for so long,” said Sapiyev. “In Beijing I lost in the quarter-finals but was resolute as my attention immediately turned to these next Olympics.”
Wil there be yet another one for him?
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