By Ken Hissner: When I think of some of the Olympic alternates who did better than the Olympians as professionals, the name Aaron “Hawk” Pryor comes to mind.
When I interviewed the 1976 Olympian Gold Medalist Howard Davis Jr., I made the mistake of saying I thought Aaron Pryor beat him in the trials. He wasn’t happy with that statement, and I could see why. Not a smart thing for me to say. He defeated Pryor twice in the trials, and the one I saw, I felt Pryor won.
As a professional, Pryor became the IBF and WBA Super Lightweight champion and retired with those belts at 36-0. He won the WBA title, defeating Antonio Cervantes 63-10-1. I felt Roberto “Hands of Stone” Duran, when he was lightweight champion, bypassed the super lightweight division when Cervantes held the title. He went right to welterweight, light middleweight, and middleweight, winning world titles.
When Pryor returned from a short retirement, he was defeated by Bobby Joe Young, 29-6-1, getting stopped in seven rounds. He won his next three fights by stoppage, ending up 39-1 with 35 stoppages.
Olympian Howard Davis, Jr. was 26-1 when he lost in his title attempt to dethrone WBC World Lightweight champion Edwin “Chapo” Rosario, 23-0, by split decision.
In his second attempt at a world title, he lost to IBF World Super Lightweight champion Buddy McGirt, 37-1-1, by a first round stoppage.
Even in his final fight for a lesser-known title, the World Boxing Union “Dangerous” Dana Rosenblatt, 27-0, stopped him.
1976 Olympian Charles Mooney was the only member of the team not to turn professional, instead making the Army a career. He defeated Bernard Taylor to earn a spot on the team.
Taylor would go on to win the USBA and NABF titles, ending with a 45-4-2 with 23 stoppages record. He would fail in two world title fights. First to WBA World Featherweight champion Barry McGuigan, 27-1, by stoppage, and then to IBF World Super Featherweight champion John John Molina, 32-3, by stoppage.
Though Olympian Gary Antuanne Russell has won all of his seventeen fights by stoppage, he only won the WBA Continental Americas title at super lightweight.
Russell defeated Jaron “Boots” Ennis three out of four times in the amateurs and in the Olympic trials. But it’s Ennis who is now the IBF Interim world welterweight champion at 31-0 with 28 stoppages.