John David Mercer-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire
Boxing's most powerful broker, Al Haymon, has signed six members of the disappointing 2012 U.S. Olympic boxing team. How do these young fighters project as they prepare to turn pro?
The U.S. Olympic boxing team left London with their worst-ever showing in team history (men's team, men's team, I know, I know), but that hasn't stopped boxing's most powerful man from snapping up six of the fighters from the squad, Dan Rafael reports at ESPN.com.
Al Haymon has signed Errol Spence Jr, Terrell Gausha, Marcus Browne, Rau'Shee Warren, Jamel Herring, and Dominic Breazeale to his impressive stable of pro fighters. No promoters have signed them, but Golden Boy Promotions is expected to be the likely destination for the group.
Let's take a quick look at the fighters who have inked with Big Al.
Errol Spence Jr, welterweight
Spence had the best run of any U.S. Olympian, falling out in the quarterfinals after getting a reversal following a controversial round of 16 loss. Like many on the team, it seemed like he probably had more hope for a good pro career than a serious amateur career at the international level, so I'll just say that applies to almost all of these guys instead of repeating it over and over. A Dallas native, Spence will turn 23 in January.
Terrell Gausha, middleweight
Gausha expects that if he works hard, he can get down to 154 pounds. He scored a KO win in the round of 32, but lost 16-15 to India's Vijender Singh in the round of 16, which was another fight where American fans had some legitimate complaint about the scoring, but it was a drop in the bucket overall as far as scoring complaints are concerned. Gausha was considered by most observers to be one of the most promising members of the U.S. squad, as far as pro hopes are concerned.
Marcus Browne, light heavyweight
Browne was the first American eliminated in London, but he gave a very good effort before being overwhelmed in the third round by the talented Damien Hooper of Australia. Browne had a fine domestic amateur career. Here's an ESPN video feature on him from May, with Teddy Atlas weighing in. Browne trained in one of Atlas' Cops & Kids clubs in New York:
Rau'Shee Warren, flyweight
Warren went to the Olympics for the third time this year, then gassed out in his first fight, a very good scrap against a tough opponent, France's Nordine Oubaali. I really have no idea how Warren will do as a pro. He's talented, seems very well-trained, and has a good reputation as a hard worker with a good attitude. But he's an American flyweight. Honestly, how many flyweight fights do you see on U.S. TV? If he's going to become any type of star, he has two options: Change the game and bring the division to the States more often, with TV dates, or travel for the majority of his high-end fights.
Jamel Herring, junior welterweight
Herring, a former Marine, was one-and-done in London, outclassed by Daniyar Yeleussinov of Kazakhstan. If I'm being totally honest, I think Herring probably has a somewhat low ceiling as a pro. He's about to turn 27, he doesn't have a big-time amateur background, and he was out of his depth in London. Maybe he'll prove me wrong, but from what I've seen, he seems a longshot to become a real contender. Then again, so were a lot of guys over the last trillion years of boxing.
Dominic Breazeale, heavyweight
Breazeale is part of the new breed of American heavyweight, where football players turn to the sweet science and boxing people try to mold them. The experimentation has been a mixed bag at best thus far, but I've read and heard and been assured that Breazeale looked a lot worse than he actually is at the Olympics, where he was woefully overmatched in his first fight against Magomed Amarov of Russia. The blame from those who had worked with Breazeale before for his Olympic showing was placed squarely on the lousy overall U.S. Olympic system, where the coaching staff was an absolute disaster - not the coaches themselves, but the way they had to work with restrictions and limitations for much of the staff. Consider the former Northern Colorado quarterback a project, which isn't unfamiliar for American heavyweight prospects these days.
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My overall favorite prospect from the Olympic squad was Joseph Diaz Jr, a bantamweight, and lightweight Jose Ramirez might have been my second-favorite. But I really do think there are some potentially very good pros lurking here. The fighters who had such disappointing results in London just might have the last laugh in the paid ranks, but it's very early to try to give them serious projections.
We will undoubtedly see some surprises, both boom and bust, out of these six fighters and the others from the squad. Though they didn't medal at the Olympics, these are prospects worth keeping an eye on.
If Golden Boy signs any of the fighters - they'll at least have some of them - you can expect to see them on CBS in the near future, assuming that deal is still in place and didn't go poof when the team failed to shine in the Olympics.