The men's last qualification event for the London 2012 Olympic Games in the American region begins tomorrow in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where the participants will be fighting for the 38 remaining quota places in the venue of the 2016 Summer Olympic Games.
177 of the best boxers from 33 nations will be competing at the Maracanazinho with Canada, Ecuador, Mexico and Venezuela all entered with the maximum number of ten boxers. Argentina, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico and Trinidad & Tobago have all sent nine athletes to Rio de Janeiro.
The best boxing nation on the continent, the Cuban squad will be travelling to the picturesque Brazilian city with three boxers, whose last chance it will to qualify for the London 2012 Olympic Games. Unexpectedly former AIBA World Champion Roniel Iglesias was not able to get the quota in Baku but he has more than a good chance of acquiring a top result in Rio. Cuba's new Welterweight is Grand Prix Usti nad Labem Tournament winner Arisnoide Despaigne, who replaced Carlos Banteur, while the third team member is Beijing Olympic Games silver medallist Emilio Correa.
The host nation's squad achieved three Olympic quota places at the AIBA World Boxing Championships Baku 2011 so they travel to Brazil with seven boxers. Two-time Olympian, Welterweight Myke Carvalho, Panamerican Champion veteran Juliao Neto, Beijing Olympian miniman Paulo Carvalho, World Military Games winner Robinelson De Jesus Vieira and WSB star Yamaguchi Florentino Falcao all have got great expectations in the front of the home crowd.
The United States also secured three Olympic quotas in Baku last year while their powerful team has got great chances to increase this number in Rio. The most experienced US boxer is AIBA World Boxing Championships quarter-finalist Michael Hunter, who will be the top favourite in the Heavyweight division. Multiple National Champion Jose Ramirez, World Military Championships silver medallist Jamel Herring and Marcus Browne are also involved with the team.
One of the continent's developing nations, Ecuador, has not yet secured any quotas but should at least equal the three they got for the last Olympic Games. Their best boxer is Beijing Olympiam Carlos Gongora, who is a gold medal contender in the Light Heavyweight division. Panamerican Games winner, 18-year-old Italo Perea, former Panamerican Champion Julio Castillo and Continental Champion Carlos Quipo and Beijing Olympian Jose Luis Porozo are the best hopes for the country.
One of the youngest teams is Puerto Rico, their talented fighters could not attend the AIBA World Boxing Championships Baku 2011 so their only chance to get Olympic quotas is in Rio. 18-year-old Panamerican Games bronze medallist Jantony Ortiz, Youth Olympic Games winner Emmanuel Rodriguez, Panamerican Youth Champion Felix Verdejo and veteran Gerardo Bisbal are the best in this strong squad.
The Dominican Republic has also sent a strong nine-member squad where their best hope will be 19-year-old rising star Dagoberto Aguero, who has got lots of experience at international level in spite of his tender years. AIBA Youth World Championships quarter-finalist Wellington Arias, Juan Gabriel Medina and teenager Raul Sanchez are all great talents and could be soon showcasing their skills in London as well.
Mexico has got great traditions in boxing and they are expecting several quotas from their young squad. Panamerican Games winner Joselito Velasquez, AIBA World Championships bronze medallist Oscar Valdez, AIBA Youth World Champion Oscar Molina and WSB star Braulio Avila, who is member of the national squad since 2006, each have got realistic chances of reaching the all important Olympic quota places.
Argentina will send nine boxers, their Flyweight No.1 Fernando Martinez and AIBA Youth World Championships silver medallist Fabian Andres Maidana will both be missing from the event due to injuries. Argentina's top Welterweight Brian Castano has returned to the national squad, Junior Leandro Zarate, Alberto Melian or WSB athlete Juan Jose Carrasco will also be seeking to make a real breakthrough at this event.
The Bahamas entered only two boxers for this qualification event but the quality in their team is very high. Panamerican Games silver medallist Valentino Knowles and Carl Heild were bronze medallist at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi and both boxers were involved to the AIBA Road to London Program.
The best Canadian hopes will be fighting from Lightweight up to the Light Heavyweight with Alejandro Rynn, Yves Ulysse, Custio Clayton, Brody Blair and Jonathan Savard all involved. The Venezuelan and the Colombian squad also have got excellent fighters and both nations have travelled to Rio with quota expectations.
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