John Joe Nevin has spoken about his reasons for turning down a lucrative professional boxing contract with Khan Promotions and instead deciding to stay amateur with Team Ireland and the British Lionhearts in the World Series of Boxing.
Khan promotions operator Amir Khan and Nevin had reportedly come to a deal to bring the Mullingar boxer into the professional ranks. A deal which was announced live on RTÉ TV’s The Saturday Night show; however, Nevin subsequently decided to change his mind and retain his amateur status.
The Olympic bantamweight silver medallist told RTÉ Sport: “It’s been very difficult, I got a lot of big offers in and you couldn’t blame me for viewing them and looking at them.
“I decided I’d go professional. But I got a lot of time to think before signing the contract and decided to go back and give it one more go for Rio, and try and take home a gold medal.
“I think it’s great; I’m staying with my family – high performance boxing” - John Joe Nevin
“I said after the fight against Luke Campbell in the [Olympic] final, 'I slipped up'.
"I wanted to go into that membership of Katie Taylor and Michael Carruth of having gold medals.
“But hopefully I can take it [in Rio] and be in that list.”
Nevin also feels that the best is yet to come in his amateur career as a pugilist.
He continued: “I’m still only 23, I have a lot of years left in me at the top. “Hopefully I can do it [win Olympic gold] in four years.”
Nevin was also full of praise for the Ireland high performance boxing setup.
He said: “We’ve great support around us, you know. We’re like a family up here. We know one another inside out and we know what one another needs, and if you need a bit of support there’s always lads here to pick you up.
“I think it’s great; I’m staying with my family – high performance boxing.
“At first when I announced I went professional, Billy Walsh [the high performance head coach] sent me a message the next day. It made me nearly break down in tears looking at the message. But I made my decision to come back and I’m delighted now.”
When asked whether Nevin regretted going public live on TV about his proposed deal with Khan, he stated that he didn't: “No, not really. It was my decision at the start, you know.
"But I got time to think about it. When I sat down with my manager, my coach, my family, was it what I wanted? Yes, but not now.
“Now I want a gold medal, or to go back after it in Rio anyway. In four years’ time, then it will be time to go professional.”
Nevin also stated that Khan was sympathetic about his change of mind.
“Amir understood, which was great. He’s a very nice lad,” said Nevin.
“It was nice that he wished me well and things. And I’d like to wish him well. Hopefully he can bring back that title [the WBA and IBF world light welterweight titles] that he let slip away from him.
“He’s a great boxer, a tremendous lad, and hopefully he takes the world title again soon.”
But Nevin was also keen to restate that he is taking nothing for granted and knows that he will have to improve to qualify for - and make an impact at - the next Olympiad in South America.
He said: “Ireland is one of the toughest nations to come out of the amateur ranks.
“I’m trying to up my game and get better, and I think I still haven’t peaked.
“There’s no guarantee but hopefully, with a bit of luck and God on my side, I can go to Rio and take gold.”