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Keyshawn Davis, U.S.’ top amateur boxer, chooses Olympics over turning pro early

Keyshawn Davis, the U.S’ top amateur male boxer, said he declined offers to turn professional until after a potential Tokyo Olympics appearance.

“Looking at the bigger picture, I felt it was a better decision for me,” said Davis, a world silver medalist in the lightweight division. “I get a chance to develop myself even more, gaining a bigger platform going into the Olympics. I’ll be just that bigger of a fighter. Coming out [going pro in 2021], I should be a bigger star than I was going to be [in 2020].”

Davis said he had multiple “lucrative offers” to give up his Olympic dream after announcing last month he was considering turning pro rather than wait another year for the Tokyo Olympics. The Games will now be in 2021. Davis is not yet qualified for the Olympics, but is favored to earn a spot once qualifying is rescheduled.

“The Olympics is most definitely huge, I’m not going to lie,” Davis, a 21-year-old from Norfolk, Va., said in March. “My whole life, you can basically say I’ve been training for the Olympics. Because all my life I’ve been amateur and fighting amateur. The biggest pedestal [in amateur boxing] is the Olympics.”

Davis said in March that he was 70 percent sure he would turn pro. Later, he preferred not to put a percentage on his decision. Ultimately, the fact that professional boxing was also halted by the coronavirus impacted his choice.

Davis is the middle brother in a set of fighters (older Kelvin and younger Keon). His silver at worlds matched the best Olympic or world finish for a U.S. male boxer since 2007. Andre Ward was the last U.S. man to win an Olympic boxing title in 2004.

While boxing opened a qualification path for professionals in the last Olympic cycle, the world’s top fighters didn’t cross over.

One of Davis’ role models is 2016 Olympic bantamweight silver medalist Shakur Stevenson. They’ve known each other since their early teens. Stevenson brought Davis to the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs as a sparring partner before the Rio Games.

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