The Unique Cases of Vasyl Lomachenko and Pete Rademacher: Should Olympic Boxing Gold Medalists Fight For A Professional World Boxing Title in Their First Two Fights?


By Robert Brizel, Head RCM Boxing Correspondent


In boxing, promotion is 99 and 9/10% of the game. Fights like Marvelous Marvin Hagler versus Thomas Hearns, and Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Saul Canelo Alvarez, were extensively hyped across the United States to sell the Pay-Per-View extravaganza event.


In amateur boxing, the amateur jewel of jewels is the Olympic Gold Medal. The winner can get signed by the top boxing promoters and look forward to a successful professional career as a world champion if he can win consistently, attract television viewers, and showcase his talent.


For the record, three fighters have taken a shot at world boxing championship in their first three professional fights. Only one has won an actual world title.


For the record, SaensakMuangsurin (1950-2009) was a Thailand Muay Thai fighter, a dangerous martial arts fighting sport. Muangsurin was converted into a regular professional boxer. A light welterweight southpaw, Muangsurin knocked out Rudy Barro and Lion Furuyama in his first two pro bouts, fighters with a combined 45 wins. Muangsurin knocked out Perico Fernandez in his only third professional fight to win the World Boxing Council World Light Welterweight title.


Muangsurin fought in 12 consecutive WBC World Light Welterweight title fights! Muangsurin’s last three losses were to fighters with a combined record of 74-2, including 22-0 Thomas Hearns. Like Pipino Cuevas against Hearns, Muangsurin could not overcome height and reach advantage. Munagsurin was 10-0 in pro boxing bouts in his native Thailand, including defeating 8-0-1 Mike DeGuzman six months before Muangsurin retired. It must be stressed not all karate kick boxers successfully make the conversion to professional boxing. Fighters like Muangsurin and Chris Algieri were the most successful.


Pete Rademacher, born 1928, won the 1956 Olympic Heavyweight Gold Medal in Melbourne, Australia. Rademacher, in a Cassius Clay like braggadocio, told everyone he could beat World Heavyweight champion Floyd Patterson in his first professional fight!


Such a callout of a black heavyweight champion by a white Olympic Gold Medalist was too good to be true in the United States, and Patterson took up Rademacher on his taunt. On August 22, 1957, in Seattle, Washington, Rademacher decked Patterson in the second round, and the crowd went wild! Rademacher, however, got knocked down six times himself, the final time was too much as Rademacher knocked out at 2:57 of the sixth round. Rademacher won 15 pro bouts, but he was beaten by Brian London, Doug Jones, George Logan, Zora Folley, KarlMildenberger an Archie Moore. Rademacher did defeat George Chuvalo, Bobo Olson, Bobby Turmana and Willi Besmanoff. However, Rademacher never got another title shot, retired at age 33, and became a successful businessman.


VasylLomachenko of the Ukraine won the Featherweight Olympic Gold Medal in 2008 in Beijing, and won the Lightweight Olympic Gold Medal in 2012 in London. With an amateur record of 396-1, Lomachenko won the World Boxing Organization International Featherweight title in his first professional fight, knocking out Jose Ramirez in the fourth round in Las Vegas in October 2013. On March 1, 2014, Lomachenko lost a 12 round split decision for the World Boxing Organization World Featherweight title to Orlando Salido at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas. Salido showed up overweight and lost his title on the scales anyway.


So the question exists: is it reasonable and prudent to fight a fighter for a world boxing title after having just a few professional bouts. The answer is: it depends how the promoter views the fighter. Most fighters have to be built up. With the advent of television, satellite reception and fiber optic technology, careers can be jump started and fighters can be moved far fast than was true 25 years ago. Professionally speaking, given the risk of serious neurological damage, should inexperienced amateurs fight for a world title shot in a professional bout? My view is a fighter should have 10 to 15 fights before planning to win a world title. All professional fighters need to follow a natural progress in fighting four, six, eight and ten rounders before reaching world class status.