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Nicola Adams Turns Pro in UK - another massive blow for AIBA
by Michael O'Neill
January 23, 2017

(JAN 23) A further boost for the sport came today with news that Double Olympic champion, Nicola Adams OBE has turned professional in the United Kingdom.  Nicola announced her decision to turn professional with Hall of Fame Promoter Frank Warren.

The news was revealed at a London press conference Monday hosted by Mr Warren and his new broadcast partner BT Sport, who will televise Ms. Adams’ professional bouts in the UK.

The double Olympic Gold Medallist and flag bearer for women’s boxing, will appear in the professional code for the first time on Saturday 8thApril at the Manchester Arena on an event headlined by Terry Flanagan’s WBO World Lightweight Championship defence against Petr Petrov.

Ms Adams will then fight in her home City of Leeds on Saturday May 13th at the First Direct Arena, on a bill headlined by local boxing hero and WBC Silver Featherweight Champion Josh Warrington. Both events will be simulcast live on BT Sport and Box Nation in the UK.

The hugely-popular Ms Adams will campaign at Flyweight and is determined to match her unprecedented amateur achievements in the paid ranks and rise to become a professional World Champion.

Ms Adams became a cross-over star during London 2012, where her performances in the ring and beaming smile became some of the most iconic images of an Olympic Games which saw unprecedented success for Team GB’s athletes. Ms Adams went on to win Great Britain’s first ever Gold Medal for Female Boxing at the Games, famously defeating three-time World Champion Ren Cancan of China in the Olympic final.

During what can be considered one of the successful ever amateur careers for any female or male boxer, Adams secured a clean sweep of amateur titles winning every available accolade in the unpaid code, capturing the only remaining major title to elude her when she defeated Thailand’s Peamwilai Laopeam to be crowned the World Amateur Flyweight Champion in May 2016.

After Ms Adams’ World Championship victory, she embarked on her second Olympic Games in Rio as the reigning Olympic, World, Commonwealth and European Games Champion and became the first British boxer to successfully defend their Olympic title for 92 years defeating France’s Sarah Ourahmoune in the final.

In recognition of her services to boxing, Ms Adams was appointed Member Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the 2013 New Year’s Honours list. The British sporting icon was then awarded an OBE in the 2016 New Year’s Honours list for her outstanding achievements and efforts to raise the profile of women’s boxing.

Hall of Fame Promoter Frank Warren said: “Of all of all the signings I have made in my 35 years in the sport of boxing, this is among the most I have been excited about.

“Nicola is a national icon already and is without doubt Great Britain’s most successful amateur boxer of all time. She is a tremendous fighter and has a wonderful personality that lit up both Olympic games where she captured two consecutive Gold Medals.

Nicola Adams OBE said: “I’m so excited to be announcing my first professional fight. This is the next step on my journey and to be working with BT Sport and Frank Warren is amazing. Together we can help take woman’s boxing to a new levels and I can’t wait to get to get in the ring in April and start working towards becoming a World Champion one day.”

The loss of Adams together with the recent departure from the ‘amateur’ ranks of such as Claressa Shields, Katie Taylor, and several others, will be another massive blow for the International Boxing Association (AIBA). More defections seem likely in the coming months with many in Europe believing that Olympic 60kg Gold medallist Estelle Mossely of France will be the next. Another who may switch codes in Great Britain’s 75kg former World Champion, Savannah Marshall from Hartlepool and other European promoters are also scouring the Continent for top talent to add to their existing teams.

Despite her two in a row Olympic Gold medals it seems unlikely that she will be taking part in Tokyo 2020 despite Pros now being allowed to take part for GB Boxing is very much in favour of building up for the future and by time of Tokyo Adams will be 36. Most National Governing bodies will have put considerable funding into promoting their own ‘amateur’ boxers in the years leading up to Tokyo and will be unlikely therefore to choose boxers who left the ranks for the paid sport.

Much will depend on how the AIBA reacts to all the latest defections and if they are prepared to have - as they did in Rio for the men - have an allocation of places in Japan for Pros.

That said GB Boxing performance director McCracken said of today’s news : "Nicola has won everything there is to win and her place in history is secured as the first women to ever win a gold medal for boxing and then top it by winning a second one in Rio.

"She is a superb ambassador and has been a significant part of the success we have enjoyed at GB Boxing in the last eight years.

"We would have welcomed Nicola staying on for the Tokyo cycle, however we recognise her decision to pursue other opportunities and wish her every success in whatever she goes on to do next.

"Nicola will remain part of the GB Boxing family and will always receive a warm welcome whenever she visits our gym in Sheffield."

At Monday’s launch promoter Warren admitted he had not always been a supporter of women’s boxing.

'I've not been the greatest advocate of women's boxing. My head's been turned.

'I've had to eat humble pie, and thought 'Are you a dinosaur?' I've always appreciated any ladies who are fighting. But what she (Adams) has done for me is turn my head. Who am I to be the person to say I'm not going to do women's boxing on BT?

Clearly there has also been a change of heart not only by Warren but also by Matchroom’s Hearn as he explained recently to iFL TV:

“We held talks with Nicola Adams,” he told iFL TV, “but we’re not looking to go into women’s boxing” . Hearn insisted that he isn’t looking at a particular market and instead wants to ‘grab hold of fighters who will excite the paying public’. “I have Katie Taylor and I’m not looking to go in to women’s boxing,” he went on. “I’m just looking to pick up the fighters that have the right style to entertain the crowd. “That, for me, is her, so I feel like I’ve got to put my heart and soul into Katie Taylor. “I think Nicola Adams is a lovely girl. She’s obviously talented, but we’ve got enough on our plate with Katie Taylor and we’ve got to balance it up.”

A huge consideration for Adams and her team no doubt was what TV coverage she could get in United Kingdom and beyond and like Hearn, Warren has a good track record in this respect especially with in-house ‘Box Nation’s mainly PPV organisation but a link up with BT Sport was always going to be necessary. Hopefully Adams can help BT to promote the women’s sport in UK in the same way that Taylor already has been a hit with Sky.

Taylor’s next appearance in the British Isles is almost certain to be at Wembley Stadium April 29th before an estimated 85,000 fans and live coverage by Sky Sports – that will form part of the Joshua/Klitschko World Heavyweight title show.

Between them - and of course let’s not forget Claressa Shields, Tiara Brown and others in the United States and elsewhere, the future does seem brighter than at most times in recent years albeit still a long way to go and will need careful promotion in countries other than UK and Ireland, particularly in the Americas if it is truly to ‘take off’ once and for all.

Tickets for Adams Pro debut on 8 April are here: Link


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