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Thomas Stalker will make his boxing debut next month

EXCLUSIVE: Stalker to make professional debut against journeyman Laight

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Professional bow: Former Olympian Thomas Stalker (pictured) who fought at London 2012, will make his debut at London's York Hall on February 23rd

Stalker, 28, will also fight on the undercard of Tony Bellew’s WBC world title eliminator against Isaac Chilemba at Liverpool’s Echo Arena on March 30.

The Sportsmail columist was controversially beaten in the quarter-finals at the London Games last year but previously won European and Commonwealth gold medals.

On turning professional, Stalker said: ‘I feel I am going to be exciting to watch as a professional boxer. I felt it was time for me to turn professional now and see how far I can go. I have done everything I could possibly do as an amateur, bar winning an Olympic medal.

Robbed: Stalker lost a controversial points decision to Munkh-Erdene Uranchimeg of Mongolia at the Games

Robbed: Stalker lost a controversial points decision to Munkh-Erdene Uranchimeg of Mongolia at the Games

‘Even though I didn’t medal myself, as a team I have captained the most successful amateur boxing team we have ever had and that was a big thing for me.

‘Since the Olympics I haven’t had a goal and I have been a bit depressed, especially seeing the other lads doing all sorts of stuff but now I have that hunger back and to get in that ring and fight is going to be amazing.

‘The one for me is going to be March, boxing a homecoming in Liverpool. It is going to be amazing for me to be boxing in front of all my friends and family in Liverpool and that is when I will really feel like a professional.’

Pedigree: He is, however, a former Commonwealth Games gold medallist and World Championships bronze medalist

Pedigree: He is, however, a former Commonwealth Games gold medallist and World Championships bronze medalist

Tom Stalker becomes second London 2012 British boxer to turn pro after signing with Matchroom

Stalker becomes second London 2012 British boxer to turn pro after signing with Matchroom

By
Martin Domin

PUBLISHED:

13:17 GMT, 9 January 2013

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UPDATED:

15:35 GMT, 9 January 2013

Thomas Stalker has become the second British Olympic boxer to turn professional.

The 28-year-old has signed with Eddie Hearn's Matchroom outfit and follows London team-mate Anthony Ogogo into the paid ranks.

The Sportsmail columnist will make his debut in February and will also be on the undercard of Tony Bellew's world title eliminator against Isaac Chilemba at Liverpool's Echo Arena on March 30.

Turning pro: Stalker has signed with Matchroom

Turning pro: Stalker has signed with Matchroom

Stalker is a former European and
Commonwealth gold medalist and was controversially beaten in the
quarter-finals at the London Games.

'I feel I am going to be exciting to
watch as a professional boxer,' Stalker said. 'I felt it was time for me
to turn professional now and see how far I can go. I have done
everything I could possibly do as an amateur, bar winning an Olympic
medal.

'Even though I didn’t medal myself,
as a team I have captained the most successful amateur boxing team we
have ever had and that was a big thing for me.

Leader: Tom StalLeader: Tom Stalker (second right) was Team GB's captainker was Team GB's captain

Leader: Tom Stalker (second right) was Team GB's captain

Stalker is a former European and
Commonwealth gold medalist and was controversially beaten in the
quarter-finals at the London Games.

'I feel I am going to be exciting to
watch as a professional boxer,' Stalker said. 'I felt it was time for me
to turn professional now and see how far I can go. I have done
everything I could possibly do as an amateur, bar winning an Olympic
medal.

'Even though I didn’t medal myself,
as a team I have captained the most successful amateur boxing team we
have ever had and that was a big thing for me.

Dedicated: Stalker hard at work

Dedicated: Stalker hard at work

'It wasn’t just a three-week
tournament it had been four years of trying to qualify to win those
medals so to see all the lads and women do so well and win medals was
amazing and I am very honoured to have captained that team.

'Winning the Commonwealth Games gold
medal was obviously a highlight for me in the amateurs but I would say
qualifying for the Olympics was a big moment after all the hard work it
took to qualify.

'Since the Olympics I haven’t had a
goal and I have been a bit depressed, especially seeing the other lads
doing all sorts of stuff but now I have that hunger back and to get in
that ring and fight is going to be amazing. The one for me is going to
be March, boxing a homecoming in Liverpool. It is going to be amazing
for me to be boxing in front of all my friends and family in Liverpool
and that is when I will really feel like a professional.

First: Anthony Ogogo had already turned pro

First: Anthony Ogogo had already turned pro

'I think a lot of Eddie Hearn and I
think a lot of the fighters he has; Carl Froch, Kell Brook and of course
the Liverpool fighters he has got, Tony Bellew, Rocky Fielding and
Callum Smith. I thought it made sense to go with Matchroom because Eddie
is doing really well for his fighters at the moment.

'Kal Yafai, Scotty Cardle and Martin
J. Ward were all really good friends in the GB squad and I see them
doing really well now with Matchroom. When I was watching Scott Cardle’s
last fight I was picturing myself against the opponent he was fighting
because he is about the same weight as me.'

Stalker will be trained by Paul and
Mick Stevenson at Everton Red Triangle boxing club alongside British
flyweight champion Kevin Satchell.

Guide: Eddie Hearn will promote Stalker

Guide: Eddie Hearn will promote Stalker

Rob McCracken, GB Boxing performance
director, said: 'It has been very good working with Tom over the last
three years, when he has shown himself to be a fine boxer with the
ability to win medals at major tournaments.

'It is disappointing for us that Tom
has decided his future lies away from the GB Boxing squad but he departs
with our best regards and we wish him every success in his future
career.'

London 2012 Olympics: Tom Stalker is no victim

Sulking Stalker is no victim as GB team captain goes out under a cloud

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UPDATED:

20:01 GMT, 9 August 2012

Tom Stalker's howl of anguish in the
Olympic night came from a spirit destroyed and you bled for him as his
dream was ended in a few abrupt moments after all the years of hard
work.

But in the cold light of day that
does not mean he was robbed, even though there have been some other
decisions ranging from baffling to outrageous in this Olympic boxing
arena.

Agony: Britain's Tom Stalker

Agony: Britain's Tom Stalker

Stalker's 23-22 defeat by Mongolian Munkh-Erdene Uranchimeg did not fall into either category.

His tormented tweet read: 'Absolutely heartbroken . . . them judges have wrecked my life. From the bottom of my heart I won that fight and there's nothing I can do about it.'

No, there is not.

Distraught: Stalker leaves the ring

Distraught: Stalker leaves the ring

But the wrong thing to do was storm out of the ExCeL Arena after barely touching his conqueror's glove and, true to his name, stalk past the world's media.

Even if the decision had been a travesty, which it was not, Stalker had additional responsibility as the team captain to set an example.

Stalker still has a duty of inspiration to those still striving for the medals which eluded him.

London 2012 Olympics: Anthony Joshua two fights from big money

Worth his weight in gold: Big Josh just two fights away from landing big dosh

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UPDATED:

22:27 GMT, 9 August 2012

Olympics 2012

Big Josh is just two fights away from being given the key to a vault containing more dosh than any other giants of London 2012 will make from scaling Mount Olympia, the lightning Bolt and the darling Jess included.

If 6ft 6in Anthony Joshua batters an equally large Kazakhstani to defeat in his semi-final, then does the same to whichever super-heavyweight climbs into the opposite corner for the last competitive event of these Games on Sunday afternoon, then he will ride into boxing’s professional ranks aboard a bullion express.

How much of that cache — a very different kind of gold from the medals on offer here — he unloads at the end of that white-knuckle ride will depend on how quickly and completely he adapts to the more brutal rigours of the paid ring.

Ring it to win it: Joshua is just two victories away from a guaranteed future in the professional game

Ring it to win it: Joshua is just two victories away from a guaranteed future in the professional game

More from Jeff Powell …

Sulking Stalker is no victim as GB team captain goes out under a cloud
09/08/12

Nicola the history maker! Yorkshire lass Adams is first female boxer to win gold
09/08/12

Heartbreak for Stalker as he loses medal chance in close bout with Uranchimeg
08/08/12

Lady of the ring! Adams aiming to win first boxing gold for women
08/08/12

Night high on anxiety for Evans as Brit waits on result of Canadian appeal
07/08/12

Speedy Joshua hooks a medal as he sends Zhang crashing to the floor
07/08/12

Ogogo gets going and seals medal after beating Hartel in middleweight bout
06/08/12

Jonas catches the eye on a mixed day for Britain's gladiator girls
06/08/12

VIEW FULL ARCHIVE

Lennox Lewis, whose accountant became well-versed in such affairs after his client became Britain’s first world heavyweight champion for 100 years, values it in the hundreds of millions.

That estimate is based on the virtual void into which this sensible young man from London via Watford will find himself entering.

‘The heavyweight division is desperate for a shining new star,’ says Lewis. Of that, there is no doubt.
The brothers Klitschko have reigned impervious to almost every challenge to their duopoly of the world title alpha-belts since Lewis retired but Vitali, 41, is on the verge of hanging up his gloves and Wladimir, 36, will not go on offering pay-days to pretenders indefinitely.

Joshua, at just 22, is probably arriving too late to feast at the Klitschko table but if he leaves here as an Olympic champion he will find himself being fast-tracked into a place among those jostling for the succession.

They include two of his fellow Englishmen, 2008 Olympic bronze medallist David Price and Tyson Fury, the accelerating traveller.

David Haye still figures in some of the world ranking lists, at anywhere between fourth and seventh behind the Klitschkos. The Hayemaker’s comeback KO victim, Dereck Chisora, remains a fringe candidate despite losing four of his last five fights, which tells Joshua how wide open is the field of opportunity.

Apart from Russia’s Alexander Povetkin, who has yet to overcome his aversion to fighting a Klitschko, and Odlanier Solis, the Cuban who was troubling Vitali K for a round until he wrenched his knee, the rest is comprised mostly of such tired old names as Hasim Rahman, Eddie Chambers and Samuel Peter. If that cast list is not an added incentive for Joshua as he makes his return visits to the ExCeL Arena, he will never have a more enticing one.

The risk, of course, is that he will not be so much fast-tracked to the big time as rushed ahead of his years and experience. This evening’s rendezvous with Ivan Dychko, whom he is reported to have handled well in sparring, is only his 42nd amateur contest. That is not so much a career as a beginning.

In the blue corner: Joshua was impressive in his previous bout - seeing off China's Zhang Zhilei

In the blue corner: Joshua was impressive in his previous bout – seeing off China's Zhang Zhilei

In the blue corner: Joshua was impressive in his previous bout - seeing off China's Zhang Zhilei

As he makes vital decisions about his future, probably starting as early as next week, he needs to be aware that even if he becomes instant box-office he will need a defining rival — the Mayweather to his Pacquiao — if he is to capitalise to the full extent of Lewis’s calculations.

Ideally, that opposite number should be American and bring with him the riches of his country’s pay-per-view TV networks. Intriguingly, just such a figure appears to be rising from the ashes of United States heavyweight boxing.

Tipped for stardom

'I think Anthony Joshua is destined to get a gold medal. He's still a boy at 22 but he's very talented and in form.

I know how hard it is to win gold. It's an achievement just to get to the Olympics, amazing to get a medal and out of this world to win gold. He can do it.'

AUDLEY HARRISON

The Americans have always regarded the prize ring’s ultimate crown as theirs by right but their last unified heavyweight king was Evander Holyfield more than a decade ago.

Now, at last, they are daring to hope they have found the heir to the majestic succession of Jack Dempsey, Joe Louis, Rocky Marciano, Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier, George Foreman, Mike Tyson and Mr Holyfield to name but plenty.

The new name is Deontay Wilder. The professional record is a straight 24 wins, every one by knockout. The plan, by Oscar de la Hoya’s Golden Promotions, has been to bring him into contention under the radar.

Wilder was the only US boxer to win a medal at the 2008 Games, equalling bronze with Price in Beijing. It has required a total of only 40 rounds for him to compile that unbeaten record and he has yet to be taken beyond the fourth in any of those bouts.

The concussive power is in a
sledgehammer right hand but it is thrown in with the athletic agility of
a 6ft 7in former college American football player.

Put it there: Joshua can become one the headline results for Team GB if he can land gold

Put it there: Joshua can become one the headline results for Team GB if he can land gold

Put it there: Joshua can become one the headline results for Team GB if he can land gold

A native of the quaintly named town of Tuscaloosa, he goes by the nickname the Bronze Bomber in tribute to Louis, the Brown Bomber. The public wraps came off last Saturday when Fox Sports televised live his spectacular first-round knockout of Kertson Manswell in Mobile, Alabama.

At 26, Wilder is ahead of Joshua on the road to riches, as is Denis Boytsov, the 6ft 1in all-action Russian with a dynamite right hand who is being talked of as a new Tyson.

But the prospect of Joshua and Wilder forging a transatlantic rivalry in the not-too-distant future will most excite boxing impresarios who want to break the hold of the Eastern Europeans.

Not that Joshua is the only member of Britain’s boxing team with much to fight for this weekend.
Anthony Ogogo, Luke Campbell and Fred Evans are all Olympic championship contenders going into today’s semi-finals. They have distinguished themselves already by adding guaranteed bronzes to Britain’s phenomenal medals haul.

But it is the towering youngster who is working the graveyard shift at the climax of these tumultuous late nights in London’s Docklands who can see boxing’s holy grail shimmering beyond the gold.

Big fight prize: Heavyweight contenders

London 2012 Olympics Boxing: Thomas Stalker loses to Munkh-Erdene Uranchimeg in light welter quarter final

Heartbreak for Stalker as he loses medal chance in close bout with Uranchimeg

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UPDATED:

22:07 GMT, 8 August 2012

Liverpool’s Tom Stalker failed in his bid to help Great Britain set a new post-War record of six guaranteed boxing medals from a single Games as he lost his light-welterweight quarter-final 23-22 to Mongolia's Munkh-Erdene Uranchimeg.

Stalker looked sharp and precise in the opening round but he was up against a tough experienced foe in Uranchimeg, who dictated the pace and scored with short rights much to the delight of the raucous Mongolian contingent in the crowd.

End of the road:Thomas Stalker was beaten by Mongolia's Munkh-Erdene Uranchimeg

End of the road:Thomas Stalker was beaten by Mongolia's Munkh-Erdene Uranchimeg

On the attack: Stalker takes the fight to Uranchimegin

On the attack: Stalker takes the fight to Uranchimegin

In a quality light-welterweight contest, Stalker began the second round well, connecting with looping left hand, and producing the generally cleaner work, countering accurately although the Mongolian's strobing rights remained a cause for concern.

Stalker was made to pay for a poor finish to the second round as he walked into a pair of right hands to drop one point behind heading into the last.

Stalker poured out for the third and the pair waged war in a thrilling contest which remained on a knife-edge until the end.

Judgement time: Stalker looks dejected after his loss

Judgement time: Stalker looks dejected after his loss

Disbelief: Stalker reacts as he leaves the ring following his defeat

Disbelief: Stalker reacts as he leaves the ring following his defeat

London 2012 Olympics: Tom Stalker reaches boxing quarter-finals

Captain Stalker continues boxing success story with imposing win over Kumar

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UPDATED:

21:43 GMT, 4 August 2012

Thomas Stalker became the sixth Great Britain boxer to earn a place in the Olympic quarter-finals after a strong 20-16 win over Manoj Kumar of India at ExCeL.

World No 1 Stalker started fast and never gave his rugged opponent, whom he had also beaten in the quarter-finals of last year's World Championships, a chance of making any kind of impression.

Three points clear at the start of the first, Stalker poured in counter-punching combinations in the second to move seven ahead, and continued picking off the Indian to pull off an impressive victory.

Marching on: Thomas Stalker moved into the middleweight boxing quarter finals

Marching on: Thomas Stalker moved into the middleweight boxing quarter finals

Hard at it: Stalker (left) and Manoj Kumar of India traded blows for the three rounds

Hard at it: Stalker (left) and Manoj Kumar of India traded blows for the three rounds

Hard at it: Stalker (left) and Manoj Kumar of India traded blows for the three rounds