Michael Conlan is the latest Irish Olympic hero tipped to become a World Champion.
The Belfast man has done little wrong so far and has a perfect 10 out of 10 as a professional. The Featherweight is back in action at his adopted home in New York’s Madison Square Garden on March 17th.
Conlan is one of Ireland’s greatest ever amateur boxers winning the 2015 Doha World Championships and a bronze medal at the London 2012 Olympics.
Who can forget the 2016 Rio Olympics when he was the gold medal favourite, and made his famous middle finger salute towards officials when shocking scoring robbed him of victory against Vladimir Nikitin?
Here is what happened to six other Irish Olympic medallists when they turned pro.
(2008 Olympic bronze, 2012 bronze)
Belfast’s Barnes is an amateur great and fell short of making it an Olympic treble in Rio. Barnes, 31, is yet to set the professional world on fire, but has dared to be great. After winning his first five professional outings he challenged Cristofer Rosales for the WBC Flyweight Title, but was knocked out in four rounds. He is due back in action next month on the undercard of his best friend Michael Conlan’s bill in New York.
(1992 Olympic Welterweight gold medal)
Carruth became Ireland’s first gold medal in boxing when he triumphed in Barcelona. He came home to Dublin a national hero after beating Juan Hernandez Sierra in the final. Carruth turned professional with Frank Warren but failed to make the expected golden transition. He was beaten in his seventh fight by Scot Gordon Blair and although he won the rematch, retired with a 18-3 record after losing to Adrian Stone in April 2000.
(1992 Olympic silver medal)
‘The Pocket Rocket’s’ silver came 90 minutes before Carruth struck gold giving Ireland their finest Olympic hour. McCullough was defeated in the Barcelona final by Cuban Great Joel Casamayor. He made a brave and successful decision to base himself in America for much of his career. In 1995 he became WBC Bantamweight Champion when he travelled to Japan and outpointed Yasuei Yakushij and made two successful defences. He was beaten in subsequent World Title challenges against Daniel Zaragoza, Naseem Hamed, Erik Morales, Scott Harrison and twice against Oscar Larios. It was a fine career as he retired with a 27-7 record.
JOHN JOE NEVIN
(2012 Olympic silver medal)
Nevin was a double bronze medallist at the World Championships and went one won better at London 2012, losing to Luke Campbell in the final to claim silver. It has been slow progress as a professional so far. Although the traveller has won all 11 fights, he has been boxing professionally for almost five years and needs to get a move on.
(1980 Olympic bronze medal)
[Image credit: Irish News]
Russell won three fights at the Moscow Games before losing to Bulgarian Peter Lessov in semi-finals. He didn’t crack the world stage, but won British Titles at Bantamweight and Flyweight and owns a Lonsdale belt outright. He is well known in professional circles for his two wars with Davy Larmour winning the first in October 1982 but losing against his fellow Belfast boxer five months later. Popular Hugh is still a familiar face at most professional shows in Belfast.
(2008 Olympic bronze medal)
Irish boxing was rocked to the core when Sutherland died in April 2009 when he was destined for the top as a professional. He won a bronze medal in Beijing, losing his semi-final against James DeGale, who he’d twice previously beaten. Sutherland moved to London for his professional career and won all four professional fights before he passed away in London. DeGale took time to pay tribute to his old rival when he became a World Champion.