Joshua handed tough boxing opener

27 July 2012 / 18:22

Finchley super-heavyweight Anthony Joshua will have to battle past a man with one of the most famous names in world amateur boxing history if he is to realise his dream of claiming a medal at his home city Olympics.

World silver medallist Joshua, one of Great Britain's best hopes for boxing gold, was handed a first-round bout against Cuban Erislandy Savon - nephew of the great three-time Olympic champion Felix Savon - in Friday's draw at the ExCel Centre.

In a generally mixed draw for Great Britain fighters, middleweight Anthony Ogogo was paired with Junior Castillo of the Dominican Republic, against whom he will get the host nation's campaign under way on Saturday.

However, there is no doubt the 6ft 6ins Joshua will be the centre of attention after landing a bout he would have preferred to avoid against the 22-year-old Cuban, a former world junior gold medallist eager to emulate his uncle, who won heavyweight gold medals in 1992, 1996 and 2000.

Great Britain team manager Matt Holt said: "Anthony had a fantastic World Championship and he is ready for this fight. It is always tough against the Cubans, but we know we have got a super-heavyweight who can mix it with the best."

Ogogo, whose preparations have been badly affected by his mother's illness, also faces a tough path to the medal rounds, with reigning world champion and top seed Evgen Khytrov awaiting in the next round if the Briton beats Castillo.

Five British fighters - Andrew Selby, Luke Campbell, Thomas Stalker, Nicola Adams and Savannah Marshall - were given first round byes on account of their seedings, as were Ireland's Paddy Barnes, Michael Conlan and Katie Taylor.

Liverpool's Natasha Jonas was given the toughest draw when she was paired with American Queen Underwood in the women's lightweight division - with the winner due to face four-time world champion Taylor in the quarter-finals.

Lochend lightweight Josh Taylor could meet former world champion Domenico Valentino if he gets past Brazil's Robson Conceicao, while Welsh welterweight Fred Evans starts against Algeria's Ilyas Abbadi.

Stalker's second round match will be against either India's Jai Bhagwan or Serdar Hudayberdiyev of Turkmenistan, while Selby will open against either Salomo Ntuve of Sweden or Ilyas Suleimenov of Kazakhstan.