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Conlan’s company – A look at Top Rank’s recent promotion of Olympians

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Mick Conlan last night confirmed that he is to join forces with one of the biggest promotional companies on Earth.

The Belfast super bantamweight has linked up with Bob Arum’s Top Rank Promotions.

A major international player, Top Rank have recently forged a reputation as probably the leading promotional company in terms of taking on top international amateur talent. Since the aftermath of the 2012 London Games, the Las Vegas-based outfit have signed ten Olympians, with Conlan being number eleven.

Describing their change in strategy, Arum explained that “for years, people have wondered why the U.S. has done so poorly in the Olympics.”

“There were a million reasons. People thought that the amateur body in this country is so dysfunctional that they couldn’t turn out good fighters. Another theory was that the Olympic style was different than the professional style and that American amateurs come up in more of a pro style.”

“But then the light bulb went on for me: Maybe, just maybe, these kids from other countries are excelling because they’re better. All of these kids we’ve signed have exciting, fan-friendly styles and our matchmakers love them.”

Here we take a look at the other Olympic stars that Top Rank have signed in recent years

Vasyl Lomachenko – Ukraine
Debut – October 2013 aged 25
2012 Olympic gold
WBO featherweight and WBO super featherweight title
Where else can you start? The Ukrainian fought for a World title in his second fight and has since claimed World honours at two weights in the space of just seven contests. Making his debut at 25, like Conlan, Lomachenko is something of a once in a generation talent and it would not be fair to compare him to the Irishman. Nevertheless, his speedy ascent through the ranks is something which Conlan will want to emulate – although obviously not at the same velocity.

Oscar Valdez – Mexico
2012 Olympic quarter finalist
Debut – November 2012 aged 22
WBO featherweight title
Brought along relatively slower due to his younger age, but the two-time Olympia is proof of the activity that Top Rank can provide.

Zou Shiming – China
2012 Olympic gold medalist
Debut – April 2013 aged 31
WBO #2, IBF #3, WBA #11 flyweight
Due to his age and his style which is seemingly unsuited to the pros, many saw Shiming’s signing a more of a ploy to capture the lucrative Chinese market. Nevertheless, Top Rank secured him a title shot on home soil in his seventh fight (which he lost to Amnat Ruenroeng) and it is now rumoured that he will face former opponent Kwanpichit OnesongchaiGym (whom he comfortably defeated in 2014) for the vacant WBO belt on the Vargas-Pacquiao undercard in Vegas on November 5th..

Ryōta Murata – Japan
2012 Olympic gold medalist
Debut – August 2013 aged 27
WBO #3, IBF #3, WBC #5, WBA #9 middleweight
Spent early career in Japan but the past 12 months have seen him marketed more globally. Matched quite progressively and well-ranked with all organisations, Murata is probably the blueprint for Conlan in terms of opponents.

Egor Mekhontsev – Russia
2012 Olympic gold medalist
Debut – December 2013 aged 29
One whose pro career has stuttered somewhat. Drew his last fight with the unremarkable Alexander Johnson and his matchmaking has not been overly adventurous. Age, language, style, and cultural differences may mean that the immensely talented Russian is struggling to adapt to America

Esquiva Falcão – Brazil
2012 Olympic silver medalist
Debut – February 2014 aged 25
Has fought regularly and on huge cards in America, although has been matched quite conservatively.

Oleksandr Gvozdyk – Ukraine
2012 Olympic bronze medalist
Debut – April 2014 aged 26 (although turned 27 thee days later)
WBC #4, IBF #10 light heavyweight
Matched slow enough initially, he has kicked into gear in his past two fights against two World title challengers.

Felix Verdejo – Puerto Rico
2012 Olympic quarter finalist
Debut – November 2012 aged 19
WBO #1, WBC #3, IBF #6 lightweight
Consistently named as one of the top prospects in the World. Like Valdez he has been brought through relatively slower due to his age. Rumoured to be challenging for Terry Flanagan’s WBO title on the Vargas-Pacquiao undercard in Vegas on November 5th.

Jose Carlos Ramirez – USA
2012 Olympic last 16
Debut – December 2012 aged 20
WBC #13 light welterweight
Again, his young age allowed and required a slower development. Something of a pattern, once he hit fight number ten, his level of opposition jumped. Interestingly the only American signed over the past two Games, so far.

Robson Conceição – Brazil
2016 Olympic gold medalist
Debut – November 2016 aged 28
Brazil’s first ever Olympic boxing gold medalist makes his bow on the Vargas-Pacquiao undercard in Vegas on November 5th. An unbelievable platform.

Michael Conlan – Ireland
2016 Olympic quarter finalist
Debut – March 2017 aged 25
Coming soon.

Joe O'Neill

Reporting on Irish boxing the past five years. Work has appeared on irish-boxing.com, Boxing News, the42.ie, and local and national media. Provide live ringside updates, occasional interviews, and special features on the future of Irish boxing. email: joneill6@tcd.ie