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John Joe 'no' to pro ranks

OLYMPIC silver-medallist John Joe Nevin has turned his back on the professional game by signing up for the upcoming World Series of Boxing (WSB) season.

The Mullingar native, who is ranked in the world's top 10, joins Moate light-heavyweight Joe Ward on the new British Lionhearts team.

His name appeared yesterday at the launch of the WSB, confirming that he had made a U-turn on his decision to go professional.

Last month, Nevin annouced that he was about to join a new pro stable set-up by Amir Khan, but it is understood that the bantamweight fighter never signed a contract.

Khan has expressed his disappointment at the Irishman's decision.

He said: "It's disappointing that John Joe will be staying amateur as I firmly believe that he has the potential to make big waves in the professional scene.

"Nevertheless, I respect his decision to represent the British Lionhearts in the World Series of Boxing and do not rule out the possibility of working with him in the future."

Meanwhile, Barry McGuigan, who hosted the launch of the British Lionhearts yesterday, described the Irish duo as "dynamite".

McGuigan said: "Joe Ward will be a sensation in the World Series of Boxing as he's an awesome talent. He'll box at 85kg and that will suit him down to the ground as he's moving toward heavyweight all the time.

"I believe Joe could win it out, he's that good. John is also an exceptional talent as we saw from his performances at the Olympic Games. They are dynamite additions to any team."

Fights will consist of five three-minute rounds and, despite being an amateur tournament, no vests or headguards are worn.

The new season begins for the Lionhearts on November 15, when they take on the USA in California.

The Lionhearts will face up against teams from Germany, Italy, Kazakhstan, Ukraine and the USA in Group B, with contests consisting of five fights, at five different weights.

There are home and away legs before the top two sides from the two pools feature in the grand final.

If the Lionhearts manage to reach the final at the first time of asking they could face Argentina, Azerbaijan, India, Mexico, Poland or Russia, the nations who make up Group A.

The WSB is endorsed by the AIBA meaning that Nevin can still compete in amateur-sanctioned events including the Rio Olympics in four years' time.

WSB boxers are paid salaries and bonuses for wins.