Leeds's own Olympic champion Nicola Adams joins professional ranks
Two-time Olympic champion Nicola Adams has signed a long-term promotional deal to turn professional with Frank Warren.
The flyweight, 34, will make her professional debut on April 8 at the Manchester Arena, and is also scheduled for a ‘homecoming’ fight at Leeds’ First Direct Arena on May 13.
Her opponents are yet to be announced, but each fight is to be staged on BT Sport and BoxNation. Her recruitment represents Warren’s promised big signing to launch his new platform on BT Sport.
The development also comes despite Warren, 64, previously criticising women’s boxing, and ends Adams’ hopes to pursue a third Olympic gold medal at Tokyo 2020.
Decorated Irish amateur Katie Taylor last year made her professional debut with Warren’s rivals Matchroom, and Adams said: “I want to take women’s boxing to the next level, become a world champion and do great things.
“It’s going to be quite different: no headgear for one. I have to create my own team now, but I’m really excited about doing that.”
Warren, who sat alongside Adams as the announcement was made at the BT Tower in central London, said: “I’ve not been the greatest advocate of women’s boxing. My head’s been turned.
“I’ve had to eat humble pie, and thought ‘Are you a dinosaur?’ I’ve always appreciated any ladies who are fighting. But what she (Adams) has done for me is turn my head. Who am I to be the person to say I’m not going to do women’s boxing on BT?
“She could probably win a world title now, but it’s about coming through and learning her trade.”
Having swept to her second consecutive gold medal in Rio - becoming the first British boxer since 1924 to retain an Olympic title - there seemed little reason for the Leeds fighter to commit to another four years on the GB programme.
It was announced earlier on Monday that she had left GB Boxing’s world class performance programme with immediate effect.
She secured a clean sweep of career major titles in the amateur ranks earlier in 2016 when she defeated Thailand’s Peamwilai Laopeam to win her first world title in Kazakhstan.
Adams was the first female boxer to fight for England in 2007 and she went on to win European and Commonwealth titles after battling back from a career-threatening back injury in 2009.
Despite the advent of professional boxers at the Olympics, the move effectively ends Adams’ chances of going to Tokyo, with GB Boxing making clear it will favour athletes who remain on its full-time programme.
GB Boxing performance director McCracken added: ‘’Nicola has won everything there is to win and her place in history is secured as the first women to ever win a gold medal for boxing and then top it by winning a second one in Rio.
‘’She is a superb ambassador and has been a significant part of the success we have enjoyed at GB Boxing in the last eight years.
‘’We would have welcomed Nicola staying on for the Tokyo cycle, however we recognise her decision to pursue other opportunities and wish her every success in whatever she goes on to do next.
‘’Nicola will remain part of the GB Boxing family and will always receive a warm welcome whenever she visits our gym in Sheffield.’’