Boxing: Golden trio switch, stay and shilly-shally
Olympic champions return to the ring after taking a year off but Adams, Campbell and Joshua have all decided to head in different directions
Sunday 07 July 2013
None of Britain's trio of boxing gold medallists had thrown a meaningful punch in almost a year after winning their respective Olympic titles at London 2012 until the history-making women's flyweight champion, Nicola Adams, set about successfully defending her European Union crown in Hungary last week.
Bantamweight champion Luke Campbell went from ring to rink, swapping his slick slugging for "The Skater's Waltz" in Dancing on Ice, while super-heavyweight Anthony Joshua, his mobile constantly buzzing with offers from every top promoter, continues to keep everyone guessing about his future in the sport. Including himself.
But now the fists are about to fly again. Campbell has opted to take the orthodox professional route, joining the mushrooming Matchroom stable run by Eddie Hearn, son of the ubiquitous Barry, and making his paid debut in an open-air show at the Hull KR ground in his home town next Saturday.
Meantime, Joshua is under pressure to make up his mind whether to take the pro plunge or remain with the GB squad, a decision that is required imminently with the World Amateur Championships looming in the autumn.
Although the British team have withdrawn from the money-earning World Series of Boxing after just one season, Joshua could still join the hybrid APB tournament created by the world governing body AIBA's ultra-ambitious overlord, Dr C K Wu, which controversially allows fighters to box professionally while retaining Olympic eligibility.
Such a move was rejected by Campbell, a welcome bright and articulate addition to the pro game who has the image of his gold medal tattooed on his torso. "It was never an option for me," he says. "The problem with APB is that no one in this country really knows about it. Boxing fans only know the true professional game, the one which can make you a global superstar.
"I want to be a proper world champion, not boxing in some backstreet venue in a foreign country with no one knowing who you are or who you are fighting."
Such is the resolve of Britain's first European amateur champion in nearly half a century that, as well as sparring with seasoned pros recently in the famous spit-and- sawdust Gleason's Gym in New York, before the Olympics he also paid his own way to visit Freddie Roach's Wild Card gym in Los Angeles, where he stayed for a week picking up tips from the stars.
Campbell, 25, remains in close contact with former GB team-mates Anthony Ogogo, a 2012 bronze medallist, and Tom Stalker, who have themselves made successful pro debuts. He is also in touch with Joshua, but like everyone else has no idea what the big man is going to do. "I get the impression he is really torn in his own mind," Campbell says.
Joshua, 23, is being heavily wooed by Wu, a dilemma no doubt he was pondering while in the Royal Box at Wimbledon. If he joins Britain's Andrew Selby at APB, and gets beaten either there or in October's World Championships in Kazakhstan, he can knock a couple of noughts off his eventual market value, with promoters already reluctant to meet his agent's seven-figure asking price.
I understand he is seriously considering linking up with former world heavyweight champ Lennox Lewis, with whom he spent some time earlier this year. Lewis is planning to invest in his own fight academy in Jamaica, training, managing and promoting young fighters. ''I see myself as a sort of professor of boxing," says Lewis. Joshua could well benefit from such heavyweight tuition.
For Adams, 30, whose ever-sunny disposition has done so much to enhance women's sport, a pro career was never a consideration, despite a number of offers, including one from Amir Khan's organisation. "There are still things I want to achieve," she says. "I want to get a gold medal in the World Championships and be the first British boxer to become a double Olympic champion."
She and Joshua are expected at the ringside in Hull, cheering alongside Campbell's skating mentor, Jayne Torvill. The tall, fresh-faced southpaw has surprisingly elected to move up several weight divisions and will box Andy Harris, a 30-year-old light-welterweight. He explains: ''I know it's a big step up from bantam, but I'm eight or nine kilos heavier now than at the Olympics and there's still nothing of me, though I'm punching that much harder."
The Dancing on Ice experience, he says, also developed a few different muscles. ''Mainly on my arse! I kept falling on it." Something he plans to avoid as he aspires to achieve another Olympian goal and become the first British gold medallist ever to win a professional world title.
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