Big changes will debut in this year’s Olympic boxing. For the first time in 112 years, the Games will allow professionals to enter the competition. However, those hoping to see major names jump into the ring will have to wait. Only Cameroon’s Hassan N’Dam, Thailand’s Amnat Ruenroeng and Italy’s Carmine Tommasone will put their talents to the test. The Amatuer International Boxing Association (AIBA) will also unveil two significant rules changes. In addition to removing headguards for male Olympic fighters for the first time since 1980, scoring will no longer be based on punch-counting. Fighters will be judged on the 10-point system traditionally used in pro boxing. Final scores of each judge will be reduced to a single number. Scoring will be announced as 3-0 or 2-1. Men’s Flyweight competition kicks off Saturday, August 13.
Meet three Flyweights to watch in Rio
Mikhail “Misha” Aloyan, Armenia
Birthdate: 8/23/1988 (27)
HT/WT: 5’5/ 115 (52kg)
Highlights: As of August 3, the 11 Russian boxers qualified for the Rio Olympics have been cleared to compete in the Games by an International Olympic Committee review panel. Which is fortunate for Misha Aloyan, the favorite in this division. The southpaw is European Champion and two-time World Champion. Aloyan is known for impeccable defense and a solid stance in center ring. The Russian can put combinations together with world class speed. The 2012 bronze medalist is the odds on favorite to win gold in Rio.
Paddy Barnes, Ireland
Birthdate: 4/9/1987 29
HT/WT: 5’4 / 108 Light Flyweight (49kg division)
Highlights: Nicknamed “Paddy Bronze” for his back-to-back Olympic bronze medal wins, the third time could be the charm for Barnes. He comes to Rio as the favorite to win the gold in the light flyweight division. Barnes is poised to lead Ireland’s boxing contingent recently hit by the banned substance suspension of teammate Michael O’Reilly. Barnes drew a bye until the quarterfinals. Northern Ireland’s most decorated amateur boxer, isn’t afraid to let his hands on the inside while relying on punching power. It’s expected that he’ll be matched with either a Spanish or Armenian opponent. Barnes will also have the honor of being Ireland’s flag bearer during the Opening Ceremony.
Antonio Vargas, U.S.A.
Hometown: Kissimmee, FLA
Age: 8/15/1996 20
HT/WT: 5′ 5 1/2/ 114 pounds (52kg)
Highlights: Antonio Vargas started boxing when he was nine-years-old. His father hoped to provide focus and to balance hyperactivity brought on by ADHD. Vargas was the U.S. Olympic trials champion and qualified for Rio at a tournament in Azerbaijan in June. His resume includes being chosen as the 2015 USA Boxing Elite Male Athlete of the Year after winning gold medal at Pan American Games in Toronto. The youngster makes up for his lack of experience with a high boxing IQ which allows him to make adjustments fairly easily. Very accurate right hooks thrown in bunches was on full display during last years Pan Am championships. Vargas will be tested in his first Olympic bought against 35-year-old Juliao Neto from Brazil.