Most of the 2016 Olympians have gone pro and are now making impressive starts to their pro careers. A few like Galal Yafai and Pat McCormack have stayed in the amateur system to try and qualify for another Olympics something that Yafai has achieved in the last week. The rest of the 2016 team turned over to the pro’s and look to fight for world titles sooner rather than later.
I’m going to start off with Nicola Adams who achieved huge amounts in the amateurs including winning two gold medals at the Olympics. She turned over to the pro ranks with expectations to dominate it like she had as an amateur however her career was marred with injuries and lay offs. She did end up becoming the WBO Fly weight champion though had to retire after her first defence because of an injury to her eye. That defense ended in a draw in which many felt she should have lost. She was the first out of the British 2016 Olympians to win a world title and while her pro career was cut short she at least achieved winning a world title.
Savannah Marshal was also a very successful amateur and while she didn’t medal at the Olympics like Nicola Adams I think she will be much more successful in the paid ranks. She has had 8 fights so far and not struggled with any of them which isn’t surprising as at the higher weight classes in womens boxing the talent pool is quite small. Theres not a lot of step up fights you can have, you fight the people near the bottom and then jump into a world title fight because there isn’t really an in between. That is also what Marshall will do when she fights for her first world title on the 27th of June in Newcastle. I think she will likely win it and then run through her division before trying to make a big fight with Claressa Shields who she beat in the amateurs.
Joe Joyce achieved a silver medal at the 2016 Olympics and is looking to replicate the success of Anthony Joshua and other British heavyweights who medalled at the Olympics(perhaps not Audley Harrison). He’s made an impressive start to his professional career with his best win so far being Bryant Jennings. He is going to be fighting Daniel Dubois in an all British clash at the 02 in July. If he beats Dubois people would make noise about him getting a title shot but with how the heavyweight division is locked up right now it may take longer than he wants to get a title shot. He is 34 and if he loses to Dubois which the bookies expect him too then its difficult to see where he goes in his career. No promoter is making him their priority and thats why he has had to resort to fighting Dubois on PPV as all momentum in his career was fizzling out. The Joyce versus Dubois fight is excellent and even if he loses he will at least leave a legacy for the British public.
Lawrence Okolie looks like hes going to be fighting for a world title in his next fight after passing every test put in front of him so far. He can be painful to watch sometimes but he has to get massive credit for being willing to fight anyone. He’ll be taking a massive step up in his next fight and I wish him all the best as the UK needs new world champions as some of the old guard are retiring or look like they could lose their titles soon. I also think as he gets more experience he won’t fight like hes a heavy handed octopus as much.
Joshua Buatsi has looked like one of the best talents to come out of the 2016 squad and looks to be fighting for a world title within the next year. I do think he could have been stepped up sooner as he has blasted through everyone that has been put in front of him so far. He was supposed to be fighting in a WBA eliminator versus Blake Caparello but had to pull out due to illness. He was then supposed to return in March but due to the Corona Virus that card has now been cancelled. I think that hes one of the 2016 Olympians that is capable of winning a world title even though he is in a stacked division. I know he’ll likely take a tune up before a big fight but he really needs to be tested on a world level like other Olympians are.
Josh Kelly at the start of his pro career looked like he could go all the way but after a few average performances it doesn’t look like hes especially close to a title shot. His draw with Ray Robinson is the only flaw in his record but it has set him back quite a bit. He had one comeback fight afterwards where he didn’t look great versus a fighter moving up a weight class and was supposed to be fighting an even bigger test in David Avanesyan in March but the show got cancelled. This was his test too see if he could get to world level or not and with it being delayed it means it’ll take him even longer however that could be a good thing as the world titles are held up at the moment. The only one he had a realistic chance of fighting is Terence Crawford because he has no opponents to face. Errol Spence Jr is coming off an injury and has better opponents lined up and there is no chance that Pacquiao would fight him as hes also got better opponents to fight. Hopefully his fight gets rescheduled as with a win there he would announce himself on the world scene.
Qais Ashfaq is a 2016 Olympian that is going under the radar compared to others. I think this is likely because he is in a lower weight class which is a shame as he seems to be just as talented as the rest of the 2016 squad. He hasn’t put a foot wrong in his pro career so far and if he gets the push behind him I can see him getting a title shot within the next year and a half though the division he is in is stacked at world level. I’d like too see him be more active and also step up his level of competition a bit which to be fair he has been doing recently. I don’t think he’ll win a world title because of how stacked it is at world level but him versus Brad Foster for the British title would be a great fight and one I’d be in attendance for.
Muhammed Ali (unfortunate name) has recently turned pro under Frank Warren and won his debut after his opponent was disqualified. I don’t know how far he can go yet as we haven’t seen him fight enough in the pro ranks. He did serve a ban for a failed drugs test but that seems to be sorted out now. Warren is good at building his guys and spotting talent so he should be in good hands. A notable point about the 2016 squad is that almost all of them signed with Eddie Hearn and this perhaps highlights the fact that Hearn isn’t that good at spotting talent and instead tries to sign all of the Olympians and top GB amateurs while Warren is better at spotting talent. I’ll go deeper into this in another article as I think its an interesting topic.
The final 2016 Olympian is Anthony Fowler and like a lot of the other 2016 Olympians looked extremely good in his first 8 or 9 fights. He also looked like a massive puncher however once he stepped up to British level he showed he isn’t nearly as big of a puncher as advertised. He was involved in a classic all British fight with Scott Fitzgerald which even in losing created a legacy with British fans. Hes bounced back with wins over a faded Brian Rose and a few others but is now looking to fight Fitzgerald in a rematch for the British title. He isn’t very close to a world title but I do like that he has the attitude that hes going to clean up domestically and win the British before he moves on to world level. I don’t think he’ll win a world title and i’m not sure he gets past Scott Fitzgerald but if he does its because he trains harder than Scott who by his own admission struggles with staying on a diet and training.
We will see just how good the British Olympians are in the next year or two as they progress in their careers and closer to world level. I’m not sure how many will become world champions but i’m confident at least one of them will do. As the next Olympic games comes near it adds extra pressure to them as they will no longer be the focus of their promoters as they try and build the new crop of Olympians. By the time a new Olympic squad is ready to turn pro the previous one has normally entered the world scene and while some of the 2016 Olympians are there quite a few are lagging behind or have failed in one of their first tests.