Two-time Olympic flyweight champion Nicola Adams embarks on her professional career in Manchester on Saturday night with the ambition of becoming the first woman to headline an event in Las Vegas, underwritten by a multi-fight deal which could make her female boxing's first 'million dollar baby'.
Fighting on the undercard of headliner Terry Flanagan's fifth defence of the World Boxing Organisation lightweight title against the dangerous Petr Petrov, Adams' switch to the professional code, overseen by renowned American trainer Virgil Hunter, will come against Argentinian Virginia 'La Tigresa' Carcamo, who has won 4 of seven fights.
"I’d love to able to establish my name in the UK as well as in the United States," said Adams, already scheduled for a second contest in her hometown of Leeds on May 13. "If things keep going the way they are and I can keep up a nice winning streak and get some title shots, who knows ?"
Las Vegas, the mecca of major fight nights, is a target, too, with a world title fight in sight within twelve months, believes the British boxing icon. "Yeah, I think that’s definitely possible in the next year. Claressa Shields, the US Olympic gold medallist, is headlining shows already, so the sky’s the limit."
"The more we raise the profile of women’s boxing, the bigger it will grow. I’ve seen the likes of Ronda Rousey and how she’s lifted the level of UFC from being a judo Olympian. I would also like to have my name up in lights in Las Vegas. I’m going to do it, definitely. I’m going to make that happen. You heard it here first."
Women's boxing has indeed been surfing a new wave in the last six months, with several Olympic Games champions joining the paid ranks, Adams joining the high-profile Irish lightweight star Katie Taylor and American middleweight Shields, both of whom are enjoying strong starts as crowd-pleasing prize-fighters.
Moreover, for Adams, fortunately, the flyweight division is replete with fascinating match-ups, not least the leading light Jessica Chavez, who is a major star in Mexico. "The Olympics is what raised the profile of women’s boxing. It’s made it a more credible sport. It would have taken a lot longer for women's pro boxing to develop without it," explained Adams.
The 34 year old was surprised when promoter Frank Warren got in touch with her. "It just turned out that they believe in my dream and the level that I want to take women’s boxing to. It all came together well and I believe I’ve got the best team to achieve my dreams. I’ll be able to show Frank exactly what women’s boxing is about, but I’ve already shown him enough. If I can his mind I can change anybody’s mind."
Defending champion Flanagan, meanwhile, unbeaten in 32 fights, knows he is in for a serious battle against the powerful Petrov. "He's a difficult opponent because he's been there and done it. He's 33 now. He's saying he's in the shape of his life. He's been about at world level now a few years. He's ranked number one with the WBA and two with the WBO. He's proven."
Petrov has 38 victories, four losses and two draws. Flanagan is going to have to be on his mettle. "We're expecting a very tough fight. We know what he's going to bring," Flanagan told The Daily Telegraph. "He can punch and he's busy. He puts his punches together well. But I think that will bring the best out of me."
I expect Flanagan to come through in a tough fight to win on points, with Adams sailing through her first professional outing.
- Flanagan v Petrov is live on BoxNation and BT Sport tonight. Buy now at boxnation.com.