London - Indian boxer Jai Bhagwan will begin his Olympic journey when he faces Andrique Allisop of Seychelles in the first round of the lightweight category (60 kg) at the Excel Arena here Sunday.
Bhagwan was the third Indian boxer to have qualified for the London Olympics at the 2011 World Championships, the first Olympic qualification tournament – a dream which was realised after two unsuccessful attempts and an eight-year-long wait.
After missing out on the 2004 Athens and 2008 Beijing Games, the two-time Asian Championships medallist and a bronze winner at the Delhi Commonwealth Games, is keen on making the most of this opportunity.
The field in the lightweight category is highly competitive and it would take nothing short of an exceptional performance from the 27-year-old Indian to make it into the medal rounds.
Vasyl Lomachenko of Ukraine is the favourite to win the gold medal and is arguably one of the most skilled and accomplished amateur boxers of recent times.
A two-time world champion (2009 and 2011) and a gold medal winner at the 2008 Beijing Olympics (Featherweight), Lomachenko is the favourite for the title this year again.
Cuba’s Yasnier Toledo Lopez – whom Lomachenko defeated at the 2011 Worlds – is seen as one of the biggest challengers to the Ukrainians bid for a second Olympic gold.
Then there are names like Domenico Valentino, Italy’s 2009 World Champion and 2011 World Cup bronze medal winner along with Kazak Gani Zhailauov also a 2011 World Cup bronze medal winner, Brazilian Robson Conceicao and Evaldas Petrauskas from Lithuania who all will add to the mix in the lightweight division.