Nevin set to turn pro with Amir Khan
BOXING:OLYMPIC SILVER medallist John Joe Nevin has decided to turn professional, leaving Irish boxing head coach Billy Walsh with just three of the fighters who won medals in London 2012.
The decisions of the remaining medallists, Olympic champion Katie Taylor and Olympic bronze medallists Paddy Barnes and Michael Conlan are expected to be known within the next few weeks as negotiations continue with the Irish Amateur Boxing Association (IABA) and the Irish Sports Council (ISC).
The Mullingar bantamweight, who won the silver medal in London after losing to Britain’s Luke Campbell in the ExCel Arena final, is expected to join the Amir Kahn stable. Kahn, who was an Olympic silver medallist in 2004 and professional light-welterweight world champion, is still an active boxer but works as an agent with Premier Consultancy in Britain.
It will come as little surprise to Walsh as Nevin has always professed a desire to test himself in the professional ranks and tweeted that he would be announcing his decision on a television chat show on RTÉ tonight.
“Hi everyone tune into rte Saturday night for the Saturday night show where I’m announcing my decision thanks for all the support everyone,” he said. A spokesperson for the boxer said that he had not yet signed anything.
“The Irish Sports Council would ideally like to stay in amateur boxing for the next number of years at European and World level right up to the next Olympics in Rio,” said an ISC spokesman. “With two world medals and an Olympic silver medal John Joe has delivered serious results and we have to respect his choice whatever that may be.”
Nevin’s departure is a blow to amateur boxing in Ireland, although, the sport’s governing body have become used to boxers making that decision. Wayne McCullough, Michael Carruth, Bernard Dunne and Andy Lee all turned professional after amateur careers. But since the High Performance unit in boxing was set up, the association has been able to keep a firmer grip on their athletes with top grants of €40,000 a year as well as win bonuses and medical back up going to those that medal at world and European level.
Nevin aside, one of the most important elements of the ongoing discussions between all parties is the future of the successful coaches from London. All of the boxers have expressed their view that the team headed by Billy Walsh, Pete Taylor and Zaur Antia should be kept in place and benchmarked against what coaches in other Olympic sports federations are being paid for delivering results that are, franckly, much less spectacular than boxing.
Nevin is regarded as one of the most naturally gifted among Ireland’s set of world class boxers. His Olympic semifinal success against the 2011 world champion, Lazaro Estrada Alvarez, was regarded as one of the best Irish performances of the Olympics. Nevin has had a taste of the professional circuit before as he boxed in the World Series of Boxing, which earned him a broken jaw a couple of months before the London Olympics began.