While most Olympic sports are about elite athletes reaching the pinnacle, few are more effective in pointing us towards the superstars of tomorrow than boxing.

That is not to say Olympic gold in the ring cannot be a crowning career achievement in its own right, but making a national squad for the Games can often precede a glittering career in the professional ranks.

Ukrainian middleweight Oleksandr Khyzhniak, Russian heavyweight Muslim Gadzhimagomedov, Cuban light-welterweight Andy Cruz and British featherweight Peter McGrail are among those hoping to take the first step on the road to becoming household names.

Here, we look at some of the men and women they will be looking to emulate.

 

Muhammad Ali

Still known as Cassius Clay, 'The Greatest' first showcased his dazzling skills to the world as an 18-year-old at the Rome Games in 1960, carving out an elegant path to gold in the light-heavyweight division. Poland's 1956 bronze medallist and reigning European champion Zbigniew Pietrzykowski presented some problems with his southpaw style in the final but Ali would not be denied.

Sugar Ray Leonard

Future rivals Joe Frazier and George Foreman followed in Ali's footsteps with heavyweight gold in 1964 and 1968 respectively, but by the time that celebrated heavyweight era was winding down the United States had another golden generation of talent to get excited about in the form of their 1976 Olympic squad. The cream of the crop was a light-welterweight Leonard, who dazzled on his way to gold – not dropping a single round and then putting Cuban knockout artist Carlos Aldama on the canvas and forcing a standing eight-count in a stunning final victory.

Lennox Lewis

In a fitting precursor to his professional career, Lewis found Olympics glory was something worth waiting for. Representing Canada, he lost to American Tyrell Biggs at the 1984 games before returning four years later to stop Riddick Bowe in the Seoul 88 super-heavyweight final. Lewis avenged the Biggs loss early in his pro-career and a maiden reign as WBC champion came when Bowe refused a mandatory defence against the Briton. Career-defining wins over Evander Holyfield and Mike Tyson to stand tall among his peers remained the best part of a decade away.

Oscar de la Hoya

De la Hoya captured the hearts of a nation with his mega-watt smile, making good on his mother's dying wish that he would become Olympic champion. The all-action Mexican-American with a devastating left-hook saw off Germany's Marco Rudolph in the lightweight final at Barcelona 92. The 'Golden Boy' moniker that would dominate the sport in the ring and – more significantly – in a commercial sense for a chunk of the modern era was born and De La Hoya went on to win professional world titles in six weight classes.

Floyd Mayweather Jr.

For those hopefuls who leave Tokyo without gold, there are plenty of examples of elite fighters who went on to incredible success without Olympic glory. None more so than all-time great Mayweather, who had to settle for bronze at Atlanta 96 after a controversial points loss to Serafim Todorov. After 50 professional fights and 26 unblemished world title contests across five weight divisions, the unheralded Bulgarian Todorov – who had a brief 6-1 pro career – remains the last man to beat Mayweather in a boxing ring.

Andre Ward

Another US stylist who went his entire professional career without ever tasting defeat, Ward actually managed to go one better than Mayweather before dominating at super-middleweight and light-heavyweight. At the Athens 2004 Games, the Californian outpointed Magomed Aripgadjiev of Belarus to claim light-heavyweight gold.

Vasyl Lomachenko

Ukrainian master Lomachenko boxed for a world title in his second professional fight and quickly became one of boxing's leading pound-for-pound stars. That unprecedented progress through the paid ranks makes a little more sense when you consider his utterly absurd amateur record of 396 wins and one defeat. It wasn't really as if anyone in either the featherweight division at Beijing 2008 or at lightweight during London 2012 stood too much of a chance as Lomachenko swept to consecutive golds.

Anthony Joshua

Packed crowds roaring Joshua on to glory are a long-established theme of his two reigns as unified heavyweight champion. Joshua first felt the thrilling weight of a nation behind him when he snuck past reigning Olympic champion and two-time super-heavyweight champion Italian Roberto Cammarelle on countback at the ExCel Arena on the closing weekend of London 2012, having trailed by three points going into the final round.

Katie Taylor

The only fight on the same level as Joshua's gold medal bout – and arguably a level above – in terms of noise at London 2012 was Taylor's opening clash against Great Britain's Natasha Jonas, a rivalry they reprised in the pro ranks earlier this year. Both times, Taylor in all her whirring majesty was successful and the Irish icon secured lightweight gold in the English capital. She was a five-time world champion in the amateurs and, even though she could not go back-to-back in Rio, she then turned over and set about redefining women's boxing all over again as a two-weight world champion.

Claressa Shields

Taylor has indisputably blazed a trail for female boxers and it is one the classy and cocky Shields has ebulliently followed. Victories over Russia's Nadezda Torlopova at London 2012 and Nouchka Fontijn of the Netherlands at Rio 2016 gave the American back-to-back middleweight golds. She became an undisputed middleweight champion in the pros with a unanimous decision win over the great Christina Hammer in April 2019, before dropping down to do likewise at super-welterweight versus Marie Eve Dicaire earlier this year.

Floyd Mayweather Jr. dominated but failed to beat Logan Paul as the YouTube sensation went the full eight rounds with the boxing great in their exhibition showdown.

All eyes were on Hard Rock Stadium in Miami, where all-time great Mayweather and YouTube-star-turned-prizefighter Paul sensationally shared the ring on Sunday.

The exhibition bout featured eight three-minute rounds, with no judges and no official winner, though knockouts were legal.

In the bizarre cross-over-fight, there were concerns for Paul – who had lost his only other bout heading into a blockbuster showdown with Mayweather, who retired with a flawless 50-0 record in 2017.

Mayweather – typically patient – controlled the fight against a visibly tired Paul, who had a huge height and weight advantage and managed to unleash a flurry of punches though they barely troubled the 44-year-old.

"I'm not 21 anymore but it's good to run around with these younger guys," Mayweather said afterwards.

"He's a tough competitor, it was good action, had fun, I was surprised by him. Good work.

"... I had fun, I'm pretty sure he had fun and hopefully fans enjoyed it."

Paul, 26, added: "I don't want anyone to tell me anything is possible ever again.

"The fact that I'm in here with one of the best boxers of all times proves the odds can be beat.

"... Floyd Mayweather it was an honour, I hate being a d******** I love you guys."

Floyd Mayweather Jr. is set to fight YouTube sensation Logan Paul next month, but he ended up face to face with both Paul brothers on Thursday. 

As the two intended combatants held a media event in Miami ahead of their June 6 pay-per-view clash at Hard Rock Stadium, Mayweather said he could beat Logan and Jake Paul on the same night. 

After Mayweather stepped off the stage, Jake Paul egged the boxing great on, challenging him to make good on the two fights in one night boast. 

"What's up? You want to run it two in one night?" Paul taunted. 

Mayweather, 44, responded: "Absolutely, let's do it. Let's make it happen. Get the paperwork for this bum." 

Paul then snatched Mayweather's hat and darted away, leading to a rolling scuffle as dozens of bystanders crowded around with cameras and phones recording the scene. 

The scheduled bout will be the second professional fight for 26-year-old Logan Paul, who has 22.9million subscribers to his YouTube channel.

His younger brother Jake has three fights to his credit, most recently winning by TKO over Ben Askew in April. 

Mayweather, who retired from boxing with a 50-0 record after beating UFC star Conor McGregor in 2017, said this match-up would be a real fight for Paul, but "just having fun" for him.

 

Boxing great Floyd Mayweather Jr. and YouTube sensation Logan Paul are set to fight in June after months of talking up the possibility. 

The pair will square off in a pay-per-view clash at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami on June 6, Mayweather Promotions announced on Tuesday. 

Mayweather – who retired from boxing with a 50-0 record after beating UFC star Conor McGregor – and Paul had been set to meet on February 20, but the bout was postponed to an unspecified later date. 

Tuesday's announcement did not include the number of rounds or any other details about the fight. 

Paul, who has 22.9 million YouTube subscribers, boasted in November that he was ready to fight Mayweather "any time, any place".

"If I caught Floyd with one punch, I would snap him in half," said the 26-year-old.

Paul has one fight to his credit, dropping a split decision to fellow YouTuber KSI in November 2019. 

Five-division world champion Mayweather (50-0) has not fought competitively since a 2017 10th-round TKO defeat of McGregor in the boxing ring.

The 44-year-old Mayweather beat kickboxing star Tenshin Nasukawa in brutal fashion in a 2018 exhibition in Tokyo.

Floyd Mayweather Jr does not think anyone wants to see Conor McGregor return to boxing to face Manny Pacquiao following the Irishman's defeat to Dustin Poirier at UFC 257 on Sunday.

Poirier became the first man to knockout McGregor in mixed martial arts with a string of punches to the head during the second round of their lightweight bout in Abu Dhabi.

It was the former UFC featherweight and lightweight champion's first fight in a year and his second since being submitted by Khabib Nurmagomedov in October 2018.

His bout with Nurmagomedov came after he switched to boxing to take on former five-division champion Mayweather, who came out of retirement and put his 49-0 record on the line.

Mayweather triumphed over McGregor by TKO in round 10, but the Irishman has been linked with a return to the ring to face Pacquiao – an eight-division champion and the WBA welterweight title holder.

However, it has been reported Pacquiao is closing in on an agreement with Ryan Garcia and McGregor's loss to Poirier will have done his chances of facing the Filipino no good.

Mayweather likened the prospect of Pacquiao, who he defeated by unanimous decision in their long-awaited welterweight bout in 2015, taking on McGregor as "my leftovers eating leftovers".

Sharing an image of a post asking why Mayweather is hated for the way he carries himself, but McGregor is loved for acting in the same manner, he wrote: "I seen this post and my take on it is that the world knows Con Artist McLoser can steal everything from me and be loved but I'm hated. That just lets you all know that racism still exist.

"Just know, that bum will never be me or be on my level. I'm just built different, my mindset is on another planet, my skills are second to none, I'm a natural born winner and yes I talk a lot of trash, but every time I back it up! This is what they hate.

"It's sad that you can be a poor black kid from the ghetto that has dealt with racism your whole life and work extremely hard to put yourself and your family in a better position, and most of the hate comes from my own people.

"Conor cannot even win in his own sport, but talking about coming back to boxing to fight Pacquiao. Nobody wants to see that, it's like my leftovers eating leftovers."

Prior to his fight with Poirier, McGregor said he was committed to a prolonged stint in the UFC's lightweight division.

Despite his loss, the 32-year-old said he feels there are still plenty of match-ups in the Octagon that interest him.

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