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Top Rank continues to collect 2012 Olympians like coins

Kevin Iole
Boxing

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Alexander Gvozdik, a 2012 bronze medal winner, signed with Top Rank on Friday (AP)

Top Rank continues to reel in 2012 Olympic boxing medalists at a staggering rate, with the latest signing being light heavyweight Alexander Gvozdik of Ukraine.

A bronze medalist, Gvozdik becomes the sixth medalist and the ninth 2012 Olympian to sign with Top Rank since the conclusion of the London Games. Top Rank signed gold medal winners Zou Shiming of China, Vasyl Lomachenko of Ukraine, Ryoto Murata of Japan and Egor Mekhontcev of Russia. They also inked silver medalist Esquiva Falco of Brazil and non-medalists Jose Ramirez of the U.S., Felix Verdejo of Puerto Rico and Oscar Valdez of Mexico.

It may be the best Olympic haul Top Rank has ever had. Top Rank CEO Bob Arum said boxing is bigger than ever in other parts of the world and that led to Top Rank's great haul.

"For years, people have wondered why the U.S. has done so [poorly] in the Olympics," he said. "There were a million reasons. People thought that the amateur body in this country (USA Boxing) is so dysfunctional that they couldn't turn out good fighters. Another theory was that the Olympic style was different than the professional style and that American amateurs come up in more of a pro style.

"But then the light bulb went on for me: Maybe, just maybe, these kids from other countries are excelling because they're better. All of these kids we've signed have exciting, fan-friendly styles and our matchmakers love them."

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Alexander Gvozdik (L) fires a punch during the 2012 Olympics (AP)

Arum said Gvozdik, who speaks very good English, is from a region of Ukraine near Poland. He said he'll probably debut on April 11 or on April 12 on the Manny Pacquiao-Timothy Bradley card in Las Vegas.

He kidded that he couldn't pass up the two light heavyweights (Mekhontcev and Gvozdik) when their manager, Egis Klimas, offered them to him. He made that mistake once before and lost out on one of the game's most exciting fighters, light heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev.

"Obviously now, I can see that Kovalev is a terrific fighter and a highly entertaining guy to watch," Arum said. "That doesn't take a genius to figure. But when [Klimas] came to me, I thought, 'What the hell do I want a Russian light heavyweight for?' But I talked about it with my matchmakers and we passed.

"So Egis called up Kathy Duva and she very smartly signed him up and she's done a great job with him. But I learned my lesson. I wasn't going to make the same mistake again."

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2012 Olympian Felix Verdejo is 10-0 with seven KOs as a pro (Chris Farina/Top Rank)

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