The recent signings of top Rio Olympians to professional boxing contracts offers a glimpse of how promoters view the money-making prospects of medalists and non-medalists.
Just because some haven’t yet signed — such as American silver medalist Shakur Stevenson — doesn’t mean they’re less valued. In some cases, bidding wars are in place.
The Los Angeles Times’ boxing writer, Lance Pugmire, canvassed some boxing experts who followed the Summer Games, and established the top five boxing prospects from the Olympics.
1. Tony Yoka, super-heavyweight gold medalist, France: He’s 24, 6-foot-5½ and looked impressive in winning. Veteran promoter Lou DiBella said Yoka will be handled by someone at the highest level of the sport and has the boost of a nation of excited fans behind him.
2. Arlen Lopez, middleweight gold medalist, Cuba: The only reason he’s not No. 1 is it’s uncertain if the 23-year-old will be able to immediately turn pro. Lopez, also the Pan American Games and World Amateur champion in 2015, flashed impressive power and skill in taking gold.
3. Michael Conlan, non-medalist bantamweight, Ireland: The charismatic fighter’s controversial loss to a Russian foe in the Olympics forced judges and referees home. But Top Rank Chairman Bob Arum has already signed Conlan and spoke of placing his debut in New York tied to St. Patrick’s Day.
4. Robson Conceicao lightweight gold medalist, Brazil: Another national hero whose charm again drew Top Rank’s attention and has already gained him a spot on the Manny Pacquiao-Jessie Vargas Nov. 5 pay-per-view card.
5. Shakur Stevenson bantamweight silver medalist, United States: He came one victory shy of becoming the first U.S. gold medalist since Andre Ward, but his success gives him a leg up: It’s believed Floyd Mayweather Jr., who watched Stevenson in Rio, is poised to offer him a multimillion-dollar offer to make him a mainstay on big American fight cards for years.