Anthony Ogogo will become the first Team GB boxing medallist from the London Olympics to turn professional when he teams up with Oscar de la Hoya’s prestigious Golden Boy Promotions.
An announcement confirming a contract believed to be in excess of three years in length is expected in the next few days.
The 24-year-old middleweight took bronze last August in the Excel Centre and has since been weighing up various offers to both stay as an amateur and go for gold at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics as well as turn professional and follow in the footsteps of recent British Olympic medallists Audley Harrison, Amir Khan, James Degale and David Price.
Meetings have taken place with most of the country’s top promoters, including Frank Warren, Barry Hearn and Ricky Hatton promotions, but the Lowestoft-born Ogogo has gone with Los Angeles-based Golden Boy who also promote Amir Khan.
In doing so Ogogo has made boxing history because Golden Boy, headed by de la Hoya who won ten world titles in six different weight classes, have never before signed a British champion who was not a current world champion, as was the case with Khan and, for a while, David Haye, let alone a man who failed to win Olympic gold.
But Golden Boy have been keeping an eye on Ogogo even before the Olympics, while the company’s influential CEO, Richard Schaefer, has maintained a regular relationship with the British boxer on twitter.
Another influential supporter has been former boxing great Sugar Ray Leonard who has struck up a friendship with Ogogo and provides regular advice and support on email.
Ogogo was approached to be a part of the new British Lionhearts team, a world series of boxing in which amateurs fight as semi-professionals with a view to continuing to the Rio Olympics, but I understand that Ogogo believes a home Games in London cannot be bettered, that four years is too long to wait and that at 28 he would be too old to begin a professional career.
Ogogo had previously won a junior Olympic gold medal but faced missing the London Olympics with a shoulder injury that, according to medics, should have kept him out of boxing for a year. Instead he was back in six months, although not completely fit.
Then his mother suffered a brain haemorrhage just before the start of the Games, before being rushed back to hospital the night before Ogogo’s semi-final against a Brazilian opponent. The British boxer was up most of the night and went on to lose the chance for gold in the final, but bounced back to at least claim a bronze medal, one of five medals in total won by Team GB in the boxing ring.
Former British Olympians who have turned professional have had mixed fortunes. Harrison, despite winning Olympic gold in Sydney at super-heavyweight never lived up to expectations and was recently knocked out by Price who, after claiming bronze in Beijing, is looking set for a world heavyweight title fight next year. Khan, who took silver in Athens, went on to become world champion before losing his title. His road to recovery began in the early hours of this morning in Los Angeles. Degale’s professional career has not advanced as swiftly as he would have hoped. Before then there is a long list of former Olympic medallists who turned pro, from Richie Woodhall to Robin Reid, to Pat Cowdell, Alan Minter, George Turpin and Chris Finnegan.
Of the remaining Team GB boxing medallists from London – gold medallists Anthony Joshua (super-heavyweight), Luke Campbell (bantamweight), Nicola Adams (flyweight) and silver medallist Fred Evans (welterweight) – all have so far stayed in the amateur ranks.
Joshua, heavily tipped by the likes of Barry McGuigan to become a future professional heavyweight world champion, is biding his time while Adams, on tonight’s BBC Sports Personality of the Year short-list, has already confirmed she intends to defend her title in Rio.