USA's Top Pro Boxing Prospects
Ramirez is Team USA’s top pro boxing prospect
By Kevin Iole | Boxing – 20 hours ago
Jose Ramirez (R) has the ability to be a multi-division world champion. (AP)
Andre Ward, the 2004 light heavyweight gold medalist, is the last American Olympian to achieve stardom as a pro. Fast-handed Gary Russell Jr., a member of the 2008 team, might become a star, as well.
But it appears that the 2012 American team has more legitimate professional prospects than any since the 1996 team that featured Floyd Mayweather Jr., Fernando Vargas, David Reid and Antonio Tarver, among others.
Here is an early read on the 2012 American Olympians' pro prospects:
Jose Ramirez, lightweight -- Ramirez has a style more suited for the pros than for the crazy Olympic scoring system. He's aggressive and throws a lot of punches, and is willing to take two to land one of his.
Best case scenario as a pro -- Becomes a multi-division world champion and a regular presence on the pound-for-pound lists, as well as a future top draw.
Worst case scenario as a pro -- Style backfires as a pro and gets hit too often to beat the truly elite. He'll be a constant contender, but not necessarily a champion.
Most likely scenario -- Ramirez will win a world title in at least two weight classes and will become an above average to nearly great pro.
Michael Hunter, heavyweight -- Hunter's father, Mike "The Bounty" Hunter, was a heavyweight of some note. He's big and figures to get bigger, is athletic and seems to have a good feel for the sport.
Best case scenario as a pro -- He'll add 35-40 pounds and fight at 240 where he will win a heavyweight title and be regarded as the best big men in the sport.
Worse case scenario as a pro -- His dedication will become an issue and he'll be a decent but not very memorable big man who will be used to fill out cards.
Most likely scenario -- Hunter will win a heavyweight championship, but won't have a long or memorable reign.
Terrell Gausha won his first Olympic bout by TKO. (AP)
Terrell Gausha, middleweight -- Gausha has no one skill that stands out, but he's extremely determined and a very hard worker. He's improved his fundamentals a lot and as a pro, that will translate well.
Best case scenario as a pro -- He'll become the team's most exciting pro, scoring a bunch of knockouts and always putting on high-enery fights. He'll win championships in two weight classes.
Worst case scenario as a pro -- His lack of height will be a hindrance and he won't be able to move up successfully. He'll be too big for middleweight and too small for light heavyweight.
Most likely scenario -- He's likely to wind up closer to the best-case scenario. Expect him to win a world title and to gain a lot of fans for his style and his power.
Joseph Diaz Jr., bantamweight -- Diaz has come a long way in a short time and is a very complete fighter. He's not particularly heavy handed, which may hurt him as he fights at higher weights in the pros.
Best case scenario as a pro -- Diaz will be a star at super bantamweight and featherweight, using activity and determination to pile up a lot of wins and at least two world titles.
Worst case scenario as a pro -- Diaz will get outslugged and outquicked far too often and will be a middle of the road super bantamweight.
Most likely scenario -- Diaz should win a world title and compete in a few memorable bouts.
Rau'shee Warren, flyweight -- Warren is a three-time Olympian who has very fast hands and good boxing skills.
Best case scenario as a pro -- He'll be a far better pro than he was as an amateur. He has great hand speed and very good mobility, assets that will allow him to win a lot of fights. He'll be a candidate to win titles in four weight classes.
Worst case scenario as a pro -- Warren's lack of power and total offensive game will relegate him to opponent status early on in his career.
Most likely scenario -- Warren is too good of a boxer not to win a world title, but it's unlikely that he can win in multiple divisions.
At least three of the four other fighters on the team -- Errol Spence Jr., Marcus Browne and Jamel Herring -- are good enough to win world titles. Super heavyweight Dominic Breazeale is a latecomer to the sport, having been developed by All-American Heavyweights, and he's harder to judge because of his lack of experience.
But for pro prospects, this seems to be one of the best American teams in many years.
Flyweight Rau'Shee Warren represented the U.S. in 2004 and 2008, as well. (AP)