TWO of Britain’s stars from the last Olympic Games are turning professional. Lauren Price, the middleweight champion in Tokyo, and Karriss Artingstall, the featherweight bronze medallist, have signed with broadcaster Sky Sports and promoter Boxxer.
“Obviously at the start it was all new to us, you come back from the Olympics and you have people approaching you, managers, promoters, selling the dream and it sounds amazing but obviously it’s new to us at that moment in time,” Artingstall tells Boxing News. “You realise what the best deal is out there and what the best route for you yourself is to take. Me and Lauren sat down, we spoke about it together and it was a no brainer when you look at it in terms of the platform, in my eyes the best platform in the world is Sky Boxing.
“The talent in Boxxer, the female stable, is unbelievable especially adding myself and Lauren to it now. It’s what dreams are made of.”
Price is expecting have her pro debut in May, Artingstall’s will follow in early June. “Long time coming, really excited. Just can’t wait to get the ball rolling now,” Lauren said. “Pros are completely different. We’re going to move at a sensible pace, each fight having little step ups and that. But I’d say probably 14 to 16 to 18 months we’ll probably be ready for a world title.”
“It’s all new to us. The ringwalk and getting used to stuff like that, the big crowd. When we’re going to a World championships somewhere like Ulan-Ude, you’ve got about three people in the crowd,” she continued. “It’s completely different. Just to get used to things like that. The new thing of boxing with no headguards.”
As amateurs they’ve been boxing three three-minute rounds. As professionals they will have to adapt to two-minute rounds, though eventually moving to 10-rounders when they’re ready for title fights.
“I prefer three minutes personally. I get better as the rounds go on. I’ve got an engine on me when I’ve trained hard and I’m 100 percent fit. So I believe I carry a bigger engine than a lot of females out there,” Karriss said. “I’m going to try and push on as much as I can to keep a high tempo as I would for three-threes. I can’t imagine a lot of females will be able to cope with that over 10 rounds.”
Even in the amateurs Karriss was remarkable for her power-punching. “I can’t wait. Smaller gloves, no headguards. Obviously I’m going to be getting hit back with smaller gloves but I get excited about the thought of wearing the smaller gloves definitely. Because obviously eventually when I do get into the 10 rounders I’m going to have more time to like cut people off and start throwing some more punishing shots and seeing if they can deal with them. I’m not just going to rely on my power. I can punch with both hands and I do carry a lot of power, I believe, especially for a female, but I can box. I do have a jab, I’ve got really good feet as well I’ve got fast feet, good feet, I do move well… I can mix it up, whatever needs be.”
Artingstall will start out competing at featherweight with a view to moving down to super-bantam. “I’m big for featherweight, I’ll be massive for super-bantamweight. So good luck to the super-bantamweights out there,” she said cheerfully.
“I respect everybody that gets in the ring to be honest,” she adds. “I’m not going to start calling names out because there’s no one realistically that I’m aiming for, I’m gunning for, but whoever’s got the belts 14, 18 months down the line when I’m ready for a world title shot. Whoever’s holding the belts at my weight at that time, that’s who I’m going to be aiming for. But at the minute, whoever they put in front of me on my debut, that’s who I’ll fight, have a step up each fight and so on.”
It’s remarkable that Price won the Olympics at 75kgs when to turn pro she’ll be moving all the way down to welterweight. “I was never a middleweight,” Lauren said. “As an amateur I had to be in and out on my feet, look at the likes of Nouchka [Fontijn, her great rival], she was six foot tall. I had to be in and out and rely on them kind of skills and use my speed and stuff like that. Whereas now I’m not going to take that away but I can throw a lot more, dig a little bit more as well and plant my feet, start off at welterweight and go from there.”
“She’d weigh in at under 69kgs sometimes and I’m like you need to drink water or eat or something. I’m sat there struggling to make weight sometimes,” Karriss added. “It was her speed, in and out that threw all her opponents off.”
Artingstall could have gone even further than the bronze medal in Tokyo. Her semi-final, with eventual champion, Japan’s Sena Irie was desperately close. A faster start would have assured her the win. “The more I think about it, the more it’s a bitter pill to swallow. There’s nothing I can do about it now. She was the eventual winner, which makes it a little bit easier to take as well,” Karriss said. “It was that close… I can’t argue against the decision.”
Great things will be expected of them as professionals. Price expects to relish the pressure. “When I’ve gone away with GB they’ve expected me to medal. I’ve been seeded number one. So when I went to Tokyo, I was favourite for gold, when I went to the Worlds, the same, so I’ve always had that kind of little bit of pressure. But I got through it, I dealt with it and all that experience, even being together at the Olympics, the qualifiers, we’ve come through all that,” Lauren said. “So it’s got us in good stead for the professional ranks and to step forward.”