- Dan Rafael, ESPN Senior Writer
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Junior welterweight Tom Stalker, the captain of Great Britain's 2012 Olympic boxing team, is turning pro under the promotion of Matchroom Sport, promoter Eddie Hearn announced on Wednesday.
Stalker, 28, of Liverpool, England, made it to the quarterfinals of the London Olympics. He will turn pro Feb. 23 on a card in London. His second fight is also scheduled to take place on the undercard of the March 30 light heavyweight title eliminator between Tony Bellew and Isaac Chilemba in Liverpool.
Stalker, a gold medalist at the 2010 Commonwealth Games, is the second member of the Great Britain team to go pro, following middleweight Anthony Ogogo, who won a bronze medal. Ogogo signed last month with Golden Boy Promotions.
"I feel I am going to be exciting to watch as a professional boxer," Stalker said. "I felt it was time for me to turn professional now and see how far I can go. I have done everything I could possibly do as an amateur, barring winning an Olympic medal.
"Even though I didn't medal myself, as a team I have captained the most successful amateur boxing team we have ever had and that was a big thing for me. It wasn't just a three-week tournament. It had been four years of trying to qualify to win those medals, so to see all the lads and women do so well and win medals was amazing, and I am very honored to have captained that team. Winning the Commonwealth Games gold medal was obviously a highlight for me in the amateurs, but I would say qualifying for the Olympics was a big moment after all the hard work it took to qualify."
Stalker said he was not sure what do after the Olympics, but finally made up his mind to pursue boxing as a professional.
"Since the Olympics, I haven't had a goal and I have been a bit depressed, especially seeing the other lads doing all sorts of stuff, but now I have that hunger back and to get in that ring and fight is going to be amazing," Stalker said. "The one for me is going to be March, boxing a homecoming in Liverpool. It is going to be amazing for me to be boxing in front of all my friends and family in Liverpool and that is when I will really feel like a professional.
"I thought it made sense to go with Matchroom because Eddie is doing really well for his fighters at the moment."
Said Hearn, "Tom is one of Britain's most successful ever amateurs and we are so excited about joining forces on this journey. Tom has a wealth of experience and we are looking to fast-track him to a [British] title shot within 12 months. He can expect a busy year ahead."