During the seven months Roy Jones spent contemplating his professional debut, 10 of his 11 Seoul-mates started slugging for pay. Here's how the class of '88—its collective record is 24-0—shapes up:
Michael Carbajal, who lost on a questionable decision in the Olympic 106-pound final, made his debut on Feb. 24 and is already 3-0. Carbajal has shown improved punching power, and his style is well-suited to the pros. But, at 108 pounds, he's in a division dominated by Latins and Asians and will find few big-money bouts in the U.S.
Bantamweight gold medalist Kennedy McKinney is also 3-0. Campaigning as a featherweight, McKinney is poised and fluid, and could become a force in the division.
Featherweight Kelcie Banks finished his Olympics flat on his back in the first round of his first bout. Banks turned pro in April and won his only fight. He has talent, but his chin is suspect.
Romallis Ellis, the bronze medalist at 132 pounds, made his bow in February with a first-round knockout, and he, too, is 3-0. A capable boxer with surprising power, Ellis could surpass some of his better-known teammates.
Todd Foster, who did not win a medal in Seoul, may fare better as a pro than he did as an amateur. Foster debuted as a lightweight on Jan. 24 and has won three straight. An aggressive puncher, Foster must improve defensively.
Kenny Gould, the 147-pound bronze medalist, turned pro on Dec. 3, and is 3-0. But one observer suggests that his "caressing punches" are better suited to the amateurs.
Anthony Hembrick never fought in Seoul. A favorite at 165 pounds, he missed the bus to his first bout and was disqualified. After the Games, Hembrick delayed turning pro in order to box in a U.S.A.-South Korea match in January. Hembrick won a unanimous decision; unfortunately, he also broke his left hand in the bout and had to postpone his pro debut another three months. He finally fought, as a light heavyweight, on April 22 and scored a second-round TKO. Hembrick is a strong fighter as a middleweight, but he will have to prove that he can sustain his power as he moves up in weight and on to longer bouts.
Heavyweight Ray Mercer stopped each of his four opponents on his way to the gold medal. Mercer, 2-0, is touted by his promoter, Bob Arum, as the man to beat Mike Tyson, but Mercer hardly looked like a future champ in his debut. Awkward and off-balance, he never put his punches together, though he did score a knockout with a vicious overhand right. In today's anemic heavyweight ranks, his big punch may be enough to make him a contender.
The knock on super heavyweight silver medalist Riddick Bowe has always been that he has excellent tools but a poor attitude. His manager, Rock Newman, says Bowe "just needed love and affection," and brought in veteran trainer Eddie Futch. Bowe, 2-0, made his debut on March 6 with a second-round knockout. At 6'5" and a trimmer 216, Bowe, only 21, may have more to offer in the heavyweight ranks than the highly touted Mercer.
The brightest prospect of the group may be light heavyweight gold medalist Andrew Maynard. Managed by Ray Leonard and Mike Trainer, Maynard is 3-0. Last month he stopped Anthony Williams in the second round, displaying both a cracking left hook and an impressive ring presence. With his broad smile and engaging manner, Maynard also has a presence outside the ring that rivals that of Leonard himself. After his knockout of Williams, Maynard stepped from his dressing room in a gray suit, white shirt and silk tie and announced to the press, "It's showtime."
No, Andrew, for you and the rest of the '88 Olympians, it's show-what-you've-got time.
Mercer (left) won his March bout against the well-padded Garing Lane.