Women boxers knock men out of Olympics limelight
Women will box in the Olympics for the first time in London, bringing an end to the last all-male sport at the summer Games and potentially usher in a series of changes that may permit professionals to fight in Rio in four years time.
Women, rejected in the past because of a limited global appeal that saw them only sanctioned to box in Britain 15 years ago, will compete for three gold medals, squeezing the men into 10 weight categories from the 11 fought in Beijing.
Likely to be one of the big novelties at London 2012, some still wonder whether they should be competing at all.
Image: MC Mary Kom
Photographs: Hitesh Harisinghani/Rediff.com
'Women made for beauty and not to take blows around the head'
Former world light welterweight champion Amir Khan, a silver medallist at the 2004 Olympics, bristled at the thought of women getting knocked out while amateur boxing powerhouse Cuba refuses to allow its females fight.
Its head coach was quoted as saying in 2009 that they were "made for beauty and not to take blows around the head".
Potential stars of the games like India's Mary Kom and Ireland's Katie Taylor, sporting heroes in their countries who hold nine world titles between them and were at the forefront of the campaign to get women's boxing into the games, will be keen to prove them wrong.
Image: Katie Taylor of Ireland
Photographs: Scanpix Denmark/REUTERS
London likely to be the last to feature a full card of amateur fights
The London Games will also likely be the last to feature a full card of amateur fights with boxing's governing body keen on seeing it follow basketball and tennis in allowing professional athletes to compete for medals.
International Boxing Association (AIBA) president Wu Ching-Kuo has said more than 50 professional boxers will compete at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games, chosen from the new World Series of Boxing (WSB) and soon to be launched AIBA Professional Boxing (APB), Wu's own brainchild.
Wu, who was recently nominated to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) executive board, also wants computerised scoring scrapped to encourage fighters to win with style and head guards ditched, potentially putting him on a collision course with the medical profession.
Image: Jose Navarro listens to his coach
Photographs: David Leeds /Allsport/Getty Images
Cuba will be desperate to better their 2008 medal haul
The phasing out of the amateur ethos in Olympic boxing means London could also be the last time professional promoters will be presented with such rich pickings, hoping to unearth the next Oscar De La Hoya or Wladimir Klitschko, gold medal winners in the 1990s before going on to conquer the pro game.
Inside the ring, Cuba will be desperate to better their 2008 medal haul when they came away with just one gold compared to the 21 they netted over the course of the four previous Games.
Bantamweight Lazaro Alvarez and light-heavyweight Julio Cesar la Cruz triumphed at the World championships last year that were dominated by Ukraine who should be able to at least double the two boxing gold it has won since first taking part in the Games 16 years ago.
Image: Yankiel Leon Alarcon of Cuba gets attention from his corner
Photographs: Al Bello/Getty Images