The Tokyo Olympians aren’t rushing into the professional sport
Tokyo Olympians are mulling their moves into professional boxing. John Dennen hears from Frazer Clarke as he assembles his team, and Eddie Hearn reveals the boxers he’s targeting
THE Tokyo Olympians are starting to make their moves into professional boxing. Super-heavyweight bronze medallist Frazer Clarke has signed with a management company and will be making a decision on his promoter and broadcaster in the coming weeks.
“After getting the medal in Tokyo I think it opened a lot more doors than if I didn’t get a medal. So I was almost like a bit of a kid in a candy shop with too many choices to make,” he tells Boxing News. “I’m not sure about the broadcaster but the management team’s sorted and that’ll be the next step.  will be the managers but I’ve got great connections in boxing, people that know the game inside out, they’re always at the end of the phone and available and so are 258.”
It’s a surprise move as 258 are Anthony Joshua’s management company and also represent Dereck Chisora, the kind of fighters that ambitious professional heavyweights will be looking at as potential opponents. But Frazer doesn’t anticipate there being a conflict. “I don’t think so. That’s a long way away,” Clarkes said. “We’re in a business so if them fights make sense down the line I’m sure between the businessmen at 258 and myself and them other athletes you just spoke about, we’ll find a way to do it. It takes the trickiness out of it, if I’m honest.
“Conversations are easier to have and if it makes sense business-wise and career-wise for myself then I think it’ll be an easier move, personally.”
He wants to build his pro career step by step, rather than moving too quickly. “People have asked me, are you going to go the Joe Joyce [type of] route, a hundred mile an hour. I’d probably say not, just because I don’t feel like I have to. People keep talking about me being 30 years old. Honestly, I know people always say it, I feel the best I’ve ever felt physically and mentally. So the rate I’ll go at is the rate I’m told to go at and I’ll work with the team, I’ll work with my coach and we’ll go from there,” he said. “I am experienced, I probably can go faster but at the same time I know the difference in the sport between the amateur game and the pro side so I’ve got to learn as well. I don’t think it’s a case of rushing as much as getting it right.”
“I feel like the most important thing is getting it right, rather than rushing and trying to make big statements to please people,” he added. “I’m not going to go at snail’s pace but at the same time I won’t be rushing at a million miles an hour to impress people. I know my targets, I know my aim is to be a world champion and I feel like there’s a process to doing that and that’s definitely not to rush.”
He has been training at Loughborough university with Angel Fernandez. “At the minute that’s looking like my team,” he said.
He also needs to maximise the recovery time for the nasty cut he picked up at the Olympic Games. Expect his professional debut early next year. “I would love to finish the year off with my Olympics and my pro debut being in the same year. It would have been nice for me personally. Realistically I feel like, to learn new skills, it’s going to take a lot longer than a few months,” he said. “Next year will be a very busy year no matter who I’m boxing for or where I’m boxing. So now it’s time to do all the ground work beforehand.
“Get ready for a big 2022.”
He will have plenty still to consider. There is healthy competition in the UK market between broadcasters like Sky, BT Sport and DAZN. “Now is a good time to be turning professional, especially as a young Olympic medallist, a heavyweight, I feel like now is a good time to be turning professional,” Frazer says. “Maybe if I had gone to Tokyo and not come back with anything, this would be a disaster turning professional now… The way things have panned out, so far, so good.
“I’m involved at a great time, I think there’s a lot of opportunities, a lot of options, a few bad ones as well. So you’ve got to get them right, pick them correctly.
“I’m ready to get on the hamster wheel, I really am.“
So far, of Britain’s Tokyo Olympians, Peter McGrail is the only one of them to have made a professional debut. He will box a second time on Matchroom’s December 11 show in Liverpool. But Eddie Hearn, one of the main UK promoters, emphasises the interest different promoters and different broadcasters will have in their signatures right now. “All of those guys and girls are hitting it at a beautiful time, with DAZN, Sky, BT. So the money out there is probably the best [for a long time], much more money than was there after Rio and London. So you can’t not turn pro basically,” Hearn, the head of Matchroom, told Boxing News. “Anyone that was in the Olympics obviously we’re interested in. We put a different value on every one of them. There’s pros and cons always to fighters but we’re talking to pretty much every Olympian really. I expect us to get the lion’s share of them, not all of them. But there’s obviously a lot of fighters that have tremendous ability that we’d love to [sign]. This is the new era of fighters coming through. We need to make sure that we get the ones that we want.”
GB had its most successful Olympic boxing team in a century. Britain had a remarkably talented squad, but that doesn’t necessarily guarantee a successful transition to professional boxing. “It’s difficult,” Hearn said. “I think the one that is probably going to win world championships the quickest outside of the girls is Galal [Yafai]. I think he was probably the best [at the Games]. You’d put him up there with the Cubans in terms of his performance in the Olympics, he was amazing. He is a flyweight but I think he can win world championships at flyweight, super-flyweight, bantam. He’s good enough to do it and he can do it quite quickly. So that’s the appeal there. Frazer is a little bit older but a big talent in a tough division. Pat McCormack’s great.”
Of the women’s team, it was Lauren Price and Karriss Artingstall who made a tremendous impression. “I make no secret, I love Lauren and Karriss. They can [be revolutionary]. They have me in hysterics every time I’m around them. I think they’re so engaging,” Hearn said. “I think Lauren is a brilliant fighter. Karriss is really fiery and can punch as well in a division with Ebanie Bridges, Shannon Courtenay, Ellie Scotney, Rachael Ball, a load of world champions.
“With our involvement in women’s boxing, those two, I don’t mind saying, they’re right on my radar.
“Lauren for me wins world championships at welter, light-middle, middle, super-middle, everything and Karriss can fight all those people I mentioned after three fights. So I’m interested in all of them.”