Friday, October 12, 2012
Olympians plan to turn pro together
By Dan Rafael
Five members of the 2012 U.S. Olympic boxing team will make their professional debuts on the same Nov. 9 card at the Fantasy Springs Resort Casino in Indio, Calif., Golden Boy Promotions announced on Friday.
All five of the Olympians -- super heavyweight Dominic Breazeale, light heavyweight Marcus Browne, middleweight Terrell Gausha, welterweight Errol Spencer Jr. and flyweight Rau'shee Warren -- will have their debuts televised on a "Night of the Olympians" card on Showtime's "ShoBox: The New Generation." Each is scheduled for a four-round bout against an opponent to be determined.
Manager Al Haymon signed each of the Olympians last month, and although they are not signed to Golden Boy, most of Haymon's clients work with the promotional company.
In July -- just before the London Olympics began -- Golden Boy, Showtime and sister network CBS announced a deal under which boxers from the Olympic tournament would make their professional debuts on CBS, even though which Olympians would be with Golden Boy was not known.
The dates for the Olympic cards on CBS were announced for Oct. 14 and Dec. 15. However, a Showtime spokesperson told ESPN.com that scheduling and venue conflicts forced the Olympic debuts to move to Showtime with the hope that a future CBS card featuring the prospects would eventually be scheduled.
The 2012 men's boxing team had the poorest performance of any Olympic boxing team in American history, coming home from London without a single medal -- the first time that had happened.
In the main event of the card, another Haymon client, 24-year-old featherweight Gary Russell Jr. (20-0, 12 KOs), a 2008 U.S. Olympian and the 2011 ESPN.com prospect of the year, will face Vyacheslav Gusev (20-2, 5 KOs) of Russia in a scheduled 10-round bout.
The fight will be only Russell's second of the year after injuries, fight cancellations and difficulty finding opponents acceptable to Russell's team and the TV networks.
"ShoBox" is a prospect-oriented series, so the Olympians' debuts fits right in with what the show is all about.
"The ShoBox series has introduced our audience to the new generation of world champions throughout its 10-year history," said Showtime's Gordon Hall, the executive producer of ShoBox. "We are proud to showcase these young fighters as they begin their journey from prospects to contender. With an Olympian-turned-prospect and now moving toward contender status in Gary Russell Jr., these Olympians need look no further than the main event to see the path that they must take."
Having numerous Olympians turn pro together is nothing new. For example, several members of the star-studded 1984 Olympic team who had signed with promoter Main Events -- including Evander Holyfield, Pernell Whitaker, Meldrick Taylor, Mark Breland, Tyrell Biggs and Virgil Hill -- all turned pro on ABC at New York's Madison Square Garden.
Several members of the 2000 Olympic team signed with promoter Lou DiBella and turned pro on HBO at the Madison Square Garden Theater, including Jermain Taylor, Ricardo Williams Jr., Michael Bennett, Clarence Vinson and Jose Navarro.