Tokyo Olympics: Mary Kom to Andy Cruz, 5 boxers to look out for at the Games

This year's event with two fewer men’s divisions and two additional women’s divisions as compared to Rio 2016 will be the sport’s most gender-equal Olympic competition ever


                            Tokyo Olympics: Mary Kom to Andy Cruz, 5 boxers to look out for at the Games
Shakhobidin Zoirov, Mary Kom and Pat McCormack are among the top boxers to look out for during this year's event (Photos by Alex Livesey, Chris Hyde and Nigel Roddis/Getty Images)

After a ton of delays due to the global pandemic, the Tokyo Olympics are finally here -- a big thumbs up for sports fanatics all over the world who will be glued to their TV screens to find out if their favorite player managed to bag the gold. 

One of the highly anticipated events of the Tokyo Olympics in 2021 is boxing, which will take place from July 24 to August 8, 2021. This year will have two fewer men’s weight divisions and two additional women’s divisions as compared to Rio 2016. As a result, it will be the sport’s most gender-equal Olympic competition ever. It will be hosted at Tokyo’s Kokugikan Arena, which is where Japan’s national sport of sumo wrestling is also hosted. 

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The five categories that the female boxers are all set to compete in are fly (33 lbs), feather (125.6 lbs), light (132 lbs), welter (152 lbs), and middle (165 lbs). The male boxers will compete in eight brackets, which will be, fly (114.6 lbs), feather (125.6 lbs), light (138.8 lbs), welter (152 lbs), middle (165 lbs), light heavyweight (178.5 lbs), heavy (200.6 lbs), and super heavy (200.6+ lbs).

Prior to the 2016 Games, only amateur boxers were allowed to take part. However, the rules were changed after Rio 2016 Olympics, which made way for professional boxers to win medals in Tokyo. 

Here is a look at the top five boxers competing at the Olympics this year, who are likely to win:

Mary Kom

M.C. Mary Kom of India celebrates after winning the Womens Flyweight Final on day twelve of the 2014 Asian Games at Seonhak Gymnasium on October 1, 2014 in Incheon, South Korea. (Photo by Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images)

Six-time world champion Mary Kom, from India, who is also the face of the campaign to get women’s boxing into the Games, will be the most experienced female boxer in Tokyo. Will the number of years in the sport work to her advantage? That is still to be seen as she will have to beat the talented Chinese Taipei pugilist Huang Hsiao-wen to win the flyweight division.

"Fighting 20 years is not an easy job," The Olympic bronze medallist Kom said as the boxer continues her push towards the Tokyo games. The 37-year-old mother shared at the qualifying event in Amman, Jordan, about how she does everything she can to help underprivileged girls and boys to chase their sporting dreams.

The last of her six world championships titles came in 2018. She has also won gold medals at the Asian Games and Commonwealth Games.

Shakhobidin Zoirov

Gold medalist Shakhobidin Zoirov of Uzbekistan poses on the podium during the medal ceremony for the Men's Boxing Fly (52kg) on Day 16 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at Riocentro - Pavilion 6 on August 21, 2016, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

Uzbekistan's Shakhobidin Zoirov is the favorite to retain his flyweight gold he won by topping the boxing medals table in Rio. After winning the 2019 world title and his first three professional fights the fierce athlete will be back in the Olympic ring to defend his title. Experts have often dubbed him Southpaw ‘Shakho’, adding that he tries to emulate his hero Muhammad Ali with his footwork and ringcraft. He also has the habit of firing quick body-head combinations before making a swift exit out of range.

Andy Cruz

Andy Cruz Gomez of Cuba (red) lands a jab on Keyshwan Davis of United States in Men's Boxing Light Welter (64kg) final bout on Day 7 of Lima 2019 Pan American Games at Coliseo Miguel Grau at Villa Deportiva Regional del Callao on August 02, 2019 in Lima, Peru. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

If you are hoping to root for a pound-for-pound boxer in the Tokyo Olympics, look no further than Cuba's Andy Cruz. He is the reigning light-welterweight world champion, and as a result, everyone expects him to shine in the upcoming games in the Olympic lightweight division. Due to his elusive and speedy hand maneuvers and quick reactions, he will be quite hard to beat. 

Pat McCormack

A portrait of Pat McCormack a member of the Great Britain Olympic team during the Team GB Kitting Out ahead of Rio 2016 Olympic Games on July 1, 2016 in Birmingham, England. Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images)

Although England might be sending in an impressive squad of boxers to Tokyo this year, none is making as many headlines as Pat McCormack, who is being hailed as the star player. He is a veteran player of the Rio Olympics, a world silver medalist, and a champion of the European games. 

With McCormack looking to light up the welterweights, it is surely building up to be a fascinating tussle in the category as he faces menacing opponents like Filipino's Eumir Marcial, and Ukrain's Oleksandr Khyzhniak. As if one of him was not enough, he also has a twin brother Luke, who also might make an impact at the games this year. 

Eumir Marcial

Eumir Felix Marcial of the Philippines wins his bout against Tay Jia Wei of Singapore in the men's boxing welterweight bout finals at Expo Hall 1 during the 2015 SEA Games on June 10, 2015, in Singapore. (Photo by Suhaimi Abdullah/Getty Images)

Eumir Marcial, 25, is the Philippines' best bet at the moment to bring home their first-ever Olympic gold medal. He qualified for the middleweight category in the Tokyo games last year. 

Since he goes hard and aggressively at his competitors and can really fight, he has inevitably drawn comparisons with his country’s greatest boxer, Manny Pacquiao. He has already signed with Pacquiao as a promoter and has been preparing under the tutelage of the multiple world champion’s trainer Freddie Roach after turning pro last year.

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