By Francisco Salazar
While the focus this year has been on the upcoming World Cup in soccer-crazed Brazil, the anticipated pro debut of a popular Olympian could give boxing a shot in the arm in that country.
Middleweight Yamaguchi Falcao will make his professional debut on January 25th at Arena Santos in Santos, Sao Paolo, Brazil.
The charismatic Falcao won a Bronze medal in the light heavyweight division in last year’s London Games, becoming the first Brazilian to win an Olympic medal in 44 years. His brother Esquiva won a Silver medal in the middleweight division.
Falcao’s professional debut has had Brazil buzzing considering it will be televised live on Globo, one of the largest television networks in the country.
Not to mention Falcao’s professional debut is scheduled for eight rounds, not four as what was originally reported.
He will face unbeaten Martin Fidel Rios (10-0-2, 4 KOs) of Argentina.
“You couldn’t write this script any better for Yamaguchi’s pro debut,” manager Rolando Arellano told Boxingscene.com over the phone Tuesday night. “He’s making his professional debut against an unbeaten Argentine fighter, not far where he grew up in a favela (shantytown).”
Admission to the event will be free of charge.
“As a thank you to the people of Brazil, Yamaguchi wanted people to watch the fight for free.”
According to Arellano, Falcao will fight four more times after his pro debut. He will fight twice more in Brazil and two times in the United States.
Falcao signed a promotional contract with Golden Boy Promotions in October. Esquiva Falcao signed a promotional contract with Top Rank.
One Olympian from the 2012 Games is already scheduled to fight for a world title on March 1st. Vasyl Lomachecko will challenge Orlando Salido for the WBO featherweight world title belt.
While Falcao was a decorated amateur and could have a high ceiling as a pro, Arellano says they will not rush him.
“We will evaluate Yamaguchi after this Saturday night. (Trainer) Danny Garcia and I will observe him and decide what course to take.”
“He has a bright future in boxing. We want to make sure he develops properly. He has the potential to be bigger than Acelino Freitas. Remember, Freitas was a world champion, but was not an Olympic medalist. The pedigree is there for Falcao.”
Francisco A. Salazar has written for Boxingscene.com since September of 2012 and has covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since 2000. He also covers boxing for the Ventura County (CA) Star newspaper, Knockout Nation, and RingTV. He could be reached by email at [email protected] or on twitter at FSalazarBoxing