Brazilian gold medalist Robson Conceicao signs with Top Rank

September 2, 2016

 

Robson Conceicao, who thrilled the home fans by becoming the first Brazilian boxer in history to win an Olympic gold medal at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics last month, has signed a professional contract with American promotional giant Top Rank.

Conceicao signed a five-year deal, Top Rank president Todd duBoef told ESPN.com on Friday night. Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

Conceicao, who won the lightweight gold medal (132 pounds in the amateur ranks), will make his professional debut on the Manny Pacquiao-Jessie Vargas undercard on Nov. 5 at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas, duBoef said.

As talented as the 27-year-old Conceicao is -- he was also an Olympian in 2012 and 2008 -- duBoef sees him as a fighter with a built-in fan base at home who can become a major box-office star.

"The most important thing to me was the incredible connection he has to those fans in Brazil," duBoef said. "That was A, No. 1. The fighting style, his speed, his power, what he does with his right hand or his left hand -- I will leave that to my matchmakers. But his marketability is sensational, absolutely over the top."

DuBoef said that Top Rank matchmaker Brad "Abdul" Goodman, who attended the Olympics, was blown away by the reaction he saw from the Brazilian fans when Conceicao boxed.

"He said he had never seen anything across the board in terms of enthusiasm in the arena as Conceicao progressed in the Olympics, and especially when he won the gold medal," duBoef said. "Obviously, his skills at that level speak for themselves, but the marketability and coming from Brazil, which is a massive country that supports its sports stars, make this the perfect combination for us."

DuBoef said he will be in Rio de Janeiro to make a formal announcement of the signing at a news conference on Sept. 9.

Conceicao, who has solid power, fluid movement and good defensive skills, won the gold medal by unanimous decision against France's Sofiane Oumiha as the home crowd went wild.

Afterward, Conceicao said, "It was an incredible feeling to represent the whole of Brazil and also [the state of] Bahia. I continued to fight because of them. They gave me the strength when I was fighting, so it was an incredible feeling. It's because of them that I got this medal."

DuBoef said because of Conceicao's considerable amateur background and age that he will forgo four-round bouts and make his pro debut in a scheduled six-rounder.

"He's mature, and he's going to jump right into six-rounders and maybe into eight-rounders after two fights," duBoef said. "We may see quicker transitions to the pros than we have after previous Olympics because of the new rules in Rio."

For the Rio Olympics, male boxers fought without head gear in matches that were supposed to be scored like professional bouts using the 10-point must system rather than wearing head gear and having computerized scoring, as had been the case in several previous Olympics.

"His trainer [Luiz Dorea, who has worked with MMA star Anderson Silva] feels the development into a professional will be very smooth and quick," duBoef said.

Besides his gold medal and three Olympic appearances, Conceicao claimed a silver medal at the 2013 World Amateur Championships and a bronze medal at the 2015 World Amateurs. He took silver at the 2011 Pan American Games.

 

 

At the 2011 World Amateurs, he lost a 19-18 decision to eventual winner Vasyl Lomachenko, a two-time Olympic gold medalist from Ukraine, a former professional featherweight world titleholder and a reigning junior lightweight world titleholder. Top Rank also promotes Lomachenko, and perhaps a pro rematch with Conceicao looms in the future.

Conceicao's signing is the second major Brazilian one for Top Rank. Following the 2012 Olympics, it signed middleweight Esquiva Falcao, the country's first-ever boxing silver medalist. Falcao (14-0, 11 KOs), 26, is one of Top Rank's top prospects.

"This is step No. 2 of our long-term investment into Brazil and the boxing category," duBoef said. "They're huge fans of MMA, but it's also a fertile place for boxing."

Top Rank has a strong history of developing Olympians from their pro start into professional world champions and star attractions, having done so with fighters such as Oscar De La Hoya, Floyd Mayweather, Miguel Cotto and Lomachenko, to name several.

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