It takes a certain steel to seamlessly transition from being one of the world’s best amateur boxing talents to the frenzied and ruthless professional game. Sheer talent is not always rewarded, but rather the qualities required to succeed as a pro are often less tangible — those of determination, diligence and a healthy desire to be the best.
A successful amateur doth not necessarily a successful pro make, but some have mastered the transition, allowing their talents to grow rather than be stunted by their passage into professionalism. Here are a few examples of boxers whose impressive amateur credentials have been backed up by their professional records.
Perhaps Joshua is the most obvious example of a boxer who has risen from the amateur game and taken the professional circuit by storm. The now 28 year old’s rise has been meteoric, so much so that it’s hard to believe he only took up the sport at the age of 18. Five years later he had claimed a gold medal at the London 2012 Olympic Games, before turning professional a year after that.
Joshua has yet to taste defeat as a pro, a testament to how hard work and a positive attitude throughout a fighter’s amateur career can yield results in the professional game. His power and endurance as a heavyweight boxer are almost unrivalled and April’s points win over Joseph Parker was the first time Joshua has failed to win by a KO. Deontay Wilder’s WBC belt is the only one missing from Joshua’s collection and a crunch showdown could be on the horizon in the not too distant future.
Saturday, 22nd September sees Joshua come up against Alexander Povetkin, who has lost just one of his 35 professional fights, by unanimous decision against Wladimir Klitschko. Despite boasting an impressive record, Povetkin sees himself as the underdog in Povetkin vs Joshua odds, priced at 7/1 to win.
One of the outstanding featherweight and lightweight boxers in the sport, Lomachenko is renowned for his speed and athleticism, and unrivalled footwork. The Ukranian boasts one of the most impressive amateur records in recent history, having tasted defeat just once across an amateur career spanning some 350 bouts. That feat includes two Olympic gold medals, at both the Beijing and London games, along with a host of other amateur medals and titles.
Lomachenko’s professional record is among the most heralded in the sport. The 32 year old has just twelve professional fights to his name, but has picked up three world titles across three weight classes in that time. May’s victory over Jorge Linares set a world record for winning major world championships in the fewest number of fights. It seems Lomachenko’s talent and determination knows no bounds.
— ESPN (@espn) May 13, 2018
Kazakh middleweight Golovkin also boasts an outstanding amateur career, posting a record of 345 wins to just five defeats. He claimed gold at the 2003 World Championships in Bangkok and later the silver medal at the Athens Olympics in 2004.
Golovkin’s professional record is one to admire, remaining undefeated after 39 professional bouts. That record includes a controversial draw with Cancelo Alvarez, a fight that many deemed Golovkin to have narrowly won, though the tussle remains one of the most dramatic the sport has witnessed. The pair are set to go head to head once again in a hotly anticipated re-match, where Golovkin will seek to make it an impressive 40 fights without defeat.
Cuban southpaw Rigondeaux is one of the most highly decorated amateur boxers, having won consecutive Olympic gold medals in the bantamweight division at the 2000 and 2004 Games. A couple of World Championships golds only add further pedigree to Rigondeaux’s amateur record.
The Cuban has been lauded for his punch speed and power and, as a pro, Rigondeaux has held multiple world championship titles at the super bantamweight class. Although ‘the Jackal’ stands at a mere 5 feet and 4 inches, he has tasted defeat just once on his professional journey. Rigondeaux is widely regarded as one of the sport’s elite bantamweight talents and another example of a successful amateur boxer who has paved his way to success as a pro.