Golden girl Nicola Adams on a mission to emulate her hero Ali

Nicola Adams.
Nicola Adams.
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LEEDS boxing star Nicola Adams hardly needs reminding of her achievements in the amateur ranks.

Back-to-back gold Olympic gold medals – not to mention world, Commonwealth and European titles speak for themselves.

But if the lightweight needed extra praise for her achievements then boxing promoter Frank Warren has provided it with the 32-year-old thrilled to have changed the 64-year-old’s opinion of women’s boxing and she is now vowing to emulate her hero Muhammad Ali.

Adams is two weeks into her life as a professional boxer having turned her back on a bid for an unprecedented third consecutive Olympic gold medal at Tokyo in four years’ time.

The boxer, dubbed the baby-faced assassin, admits the decision to either stay amateur or turn pro took some serious thought but the prospect of emulating Ali by backing up an Olympic title with a professional world title belt allowed the 34-year-old’s head to be turned.

And it was Adams herself who has instigated a change of ways in her new promoter Warren who readily admits to having previously not been the greatest advocate of women’s boxing.

“It’s never appealed to me,” admits Warren, “but what Nicola’s done – the way she’s transformed the sport in the last five or six years has been amazing. She has changed my mind about women’s boxing. We’re going to have good fun taking her all the way to the top.”

Words that cause Adams to bear an even wider smile than the one the boxing world has become accustomed to – with the fighter now determined to bring both Warren and the city of Leeds a 2017 belt as professional champion of the world.

An initially unlikely looking relationship now looks set to be a potent one, with Adams set to make her pro debut under Warren in Manchester in April before joining new stable-mate Josh Warrington as part of a stellar night’s action in May at the First Direct Arena in Leeds.

Warren declared earlier this month that Adams had changed his ways about being a women’s boxing “dinosaur” and Adams admitted: “It was really nice to hear.

“Frank came to me and said I’d love to manage your pro career and I sat down with him and the rest of the team, BT and Box Nation, and they really wanted to take women’s boxing to the next level and they believe that I am the person to do it.

“It was just nice to see that I have been able to change his mind about women’s boxing and he has seen the progression that women’s boxing has had. It’s just nice to think that I have done a good job! Between us we can really raise the game of women’s boxing.

“After I won the gold medal in Rio, I have spent pretty much from that moment of having the medal around my neck up up until now I have spent thinking about it, what the plan would be and what the structure would be.

“It was quite tough. I had to think about maybe doing a third Olympics and nobody has ever done the triple in boxing so I would have loved to have been able to do that. But I wanted another challenge.

“I wanted to become a world champion in the pro boxing and that’s what made me decide that I want to go pro.

“I want to follow my hero Muhammad Ali and do as he did, become an Olympic champion and then go on and be a world champion.

“I’m happy now, I’ve found a good team in Frank, Box Nation and BT Sport that believe in my dream and believe in what I can do and they want to make me a world champion and that’s what I want to be.”

Another part of that new-look team is fellow Leeds fighter Warrington – who himself parted ways with Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing to sign terms with Warren.

Adams and Warrington will now fight on the same bill at First Direct Arena on Saturday, May 13. Warrington will take on Spanish fighter Kiko Martinez in May, with Adams’ opponent yet to be confirmed.

Whoever is thrown against the Leeds fighter will be gunning to make headlines by defeating the reigning double Olympic champ, but the message from Adams is bring it on.

“I love the pressure – as I did in the amateur game,” said Adams. “Being no 1 for four years is hard, knowing that everybody is coming for you and everybody wants to be Olympic champion. Everybody wants that gold medal.

“I had to go in there with my A game every time and give 110 per cent and that’s what I intend to do in the pros as well. Everybody wants to beat me but they have got to get in the ring and put their money where their mouth is really.

“I’m ready.”

Rebecca Gallantree and Nicola Adams.

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Nicola Adams and Josh Warrington. PIC: Jonathan Gawthorpe

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