LONDON (Reuters) – Double Olympic boxing gold medallist Nicola Adams turned professional on Monday, announcing a debut bout in Manchester on April 8 before a “Leeds homecoming” on May 13.
“I think this was the time for me,” the 34-year-old, who has signed with promoter Frank Warren, told broadcaster BT Sport at a presentation in London.
“After 2012, winning the Olympics in London, I still had things that I wanted to achieve. I wanted to become a world champion and a double Olympic champion before I turned professional.
“Now I’ve achieved everything I wanted to achieve as an amateur and now I want to be a professional and achieve more.”
Warren, who has previously said he did not want to promote women’s boxing, said he was eating ‘humble pie’ in signing the diminutive Adams.
“Of all the signings I have made in my 35 years in the sport of boxing, this is among the most I have been excited about,” he said. “I think Nicola will be challenging for world titles within a year.”
GB Boxing had said earlier that the first female Olympic boxing champion, who defended her 2012 flyweight title in Rio de Janeiro last year, would not be part of their squad working towards Tokyo 2020.
The only other woman to win two Olympic boxing golds, American middleweight Claressa Shields, made her professional debut last November.
Ireland’s Katie Taylor, a lightweight gold medallist in 2012, has also turned professional.
“She 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,” said GB Boxing’s performance director Rob McCracken of Adams.
“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,” he added.
(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Ed Osmond)