Oscar Valdez, Mexico's top boxing hope at the London Olympics, said Wednesday he has what it takes to defeat the 2011 world amateur champion in his division, Cuban Lazaro Alvarez.
"I know I can beat Alvarez; in the last Pan American Games he was better than me and beat me in the final, but I've studied him. I know his style and I can defeat him," the 21-year-old batamweight told Efe.
Valdez won bronze at the 2009 World Amateur Boxing Championships in Milan and has since been regarded as one of Mexico's biggest hopes for a boxing medal at the London Games.
"I've matured since I won the bronze medal in Italy. I was 18 years old then and now I'm 21 and I feel stronger, although back then I competed at 57 kilos (as a featherweight) and now my weight is 56 (kilos) and I battle more to make my weight," he said.
The other favorites in the bantamweight division include Britain's Luke Campbell, runner-up to Alvarez at last year's World Championships in Baku, Azerbaijan; Bulgaria's Detelin Dalakliev, gold medalist in Milan; and Tajikstan's Anvar Yunusov and Ireland's John Joe Nevin, bronze medalists in Azerbaijan.
"I've trained to do battle with whomever I'm up against, although an easy draw is always best," the boxer from the northern state of Sonora said.
Mexico has won two golds, three silvers and seven bronzes in boxing, the country's most successful Olympic sport, although it has not captured a single Olympic boxing medal since Cristian Bejarano's bronze at lightweight in the 2000 Sydney Games, a drought Valdez is intent on ending.
"I want to end that. I have the quality and I'll give everything I have," Valdez said.
First-round fights in the bantamweight division will take place on Saturday, while the gold medal bout is scheduled for Aug. 11. EFE