Most underwhelming Olympic Gold medalists as Professionals

By Gav Duthie: That time has come again where all the successful Olympic boxers from the last games start to turn professional with big expectations. 2020 Olympics (event in 2021) produced some dazzling displays.

Bronze medalist Frazer Clarke debuts on Sky Sports this month, American Ricardo Torrez Jnr starts soon with Top Rank.

The Gold medalists are always the most intriguing though, Galal Yafai has signed with Matchroom and DAZN and as is expected to do big things with his brother Kal an ex-world champion.

It doesn’t always translate though. Some successful amateurs just don’t make great professionals at all and vice versa. Here is a top 5 warning list of Olympic Gold medalists who got it wrong in the pro game.

Pete Rademacher 15-7-1 (8)
(Australia 1956)

(Heavyweight)

Just a truly ridiculous career. The worst thing is it wasn’t really Rademacher’s fault. He had a great amateur record and won Olympic gold with over 70 amateur wins. There didn’t seem to be a huge amount of good heavyweights at the time to challenge Floyd Patterson with Rocky Marciano retiring.

Still, the notion that Rademacher would challenge Floyd in his first professional contest was insane. He is the only fighter ever to challenge for a world title in his first fight. Even Lomachenko waited until the 2nd and he lost as well.

Even after Patterson easily dismantled him they didn’t ease off. They threw him in with Zora Folley for fight 2 who was one of the top 5 heavyweights of that time so he was knocked out again.

It was just horrible matchmaking. He won 6 straight after that but never really got going after losing a few more. Some Olympians really disappointed and maybe he would never have amounted to anything but his management team and promoters gave him the worst chance possible.

Andrew Maynard 13-26-1 (21)
(Seoul 1988)

(Light heavyweight)

Big puncher, good looking guy, an Olympic Gold medal around his neck, and Sugar Ray Leonard guiding him, what could go wrong.

Maynard started well enough compiling a 12-0 record before a knockout defeat to the experienced Bobby Czyz (shared the ring with the likes of Virgil Hill and Evander Holyfield).

Maynard challenged Frank Tate for the NABF light heavyweight title as well as Anaclet Wamba for the WBC cruiserweight title in 1992 but lost both.

The legend Tommy Hearns knocked him out in 1 round in 93 and by 1994 he was losing regularly. He even tried a couple of heavyweight boots getting stopped by the Dane Brian Neilsen. Probably a lack of footwork and chin cost him from achieving anything notable in the sport.

Yan Barthelemy 13-3 (4)
(Athens 2004)

(Light Flyweight)

A really surprising downfall. A hugely slick boxer with, an outstanding amateur record. He win Gold in 04 and continued as an amateur as Cuban’s are expected to do being part of the successful 2006 Cuba world cup team.

In 2006 Barthelemy defected after leaving a training camp in Venezuela along with Odlandier Solis and future world champion Yuriorkis Gamboa.

Many Cubans struggle because of the fanbase and not being matched right and given opportunities but a German-based promoter signed them all.

Barthelemy went to 6-0 as expected but lost to a journeyman whose final career record was 10-17. Not long after, perhaps out of desperation, he took a fight on very short notice and was stopped by undefeated at the time Jorge Diaz.

His younger brother Rances (still active) is enjoying a much better pro career as an ex IBF world lightweight champion and only 1 career loss to date in 31 bouts.

4. Audley Harrison 7-31 (23)

(Sydney 2000)

(Super Heavyweight)

The great British hope, the next Lennox Lewis. Harrison certainly had the confidence and arguably the talent but he seemed much more attuned to the amateur game.

He was a big deal from the start, all boots televised on BBC which wasn’t the norm. He was winning, he won his first 19 boots but things didn’t look right.

He dropped a split decision to British rival Danny Williams for the Commonwealth title just through being bullied really. Then he went to America and was dominated by flagging prospect Dominic Guinn.

In 2008 when he lost to Irish taxi driver Martin Rogan he looked done.

In fairness, he did well to claw himself back. He won a quick Prizefighter tournament (3 fights x 3 rounds in one night) and pulled off a stunning comeback stoppage to win the European title before an embarrassing title shot against David Haye barely throwing a punch in 3 rounds before being blasted out.

Another prizefighter win, as well as two first round losses to David Price and Deontay Wilder and Audley called it a day in 2013.

Mohammed Abdullaev 21-4 (14)
(Sydney 2000)

(Light Welterweight)

An impressive Olympic Gold medal winner in 2000 defeating Miguel Cotto in round 1 and Ricardo Williams Jnr in the final. His pro career didn’t go nearly as well. He won the WBO Inter-continental title but achieved little more.

His rematch of Miguel Cotto from the amateurs made me wonder how it was ever possible that the Puerto Rican could have lost to him.

Cotto won every round before stopping him in 9. He lost another straight after to another world champion in Andriy Kotelnik. One more defeat and he called it a day.

Conclusion

If you win an Olympic Gold then you can box, no question but don’t get trapped. Some pros get offered glory too quickly like Rademacher, some make too much money early and forget to do the hard graft.

Some struggle to handle the early pressure of being in the limelight. These boxers need to think carefully and avoid the warning signs and people looking to make a quick buck. All we want as fans is that all boxers make the most of their talent.

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