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Boxing: KEV: GOLD BEFORE CASH.

Byline: MIKE LEWIS

HEAVYWEIGHT boxer Kevin Evans has KO'd a lucrative offer to turn pro so he can pursue his dream of striking gold at the 2004 Olympics.

The big Welshman looked certain to join the paid ranks after losing controversially to England's David Dolan at the Commonwealth Games in Manchester.

The 6ft 2in Carmarthen fighter had to be content with a bronze medal after being stopped with a bloody nose. "You see worse things in a school playground," he said afterwards.

But Evans, 26, has now spurned a six-figure offer from Frank Maloney because he believes he can emulate Britain's Audley Harrison by becoming Olympic champ at Athens. He said: "Frank made me a very good offer, but you cannot put a price on your dreams.

"If I can win gold at next year's world championships and follow up by winning the Olympics, no amateur boxer in Britain will have a CV like mine.

"I've been on the receiving end of a couple of bad decisions over the years but the wheel of fortune is bound to turn my way.

"If I didn't have another crack at the Olympics it would be something I would always look back on with regret."

Evans proved his pedigree by becoming the first Briton to win a medal at the world championships when he captured a bronze at Texas in 1999.

But he almost quit in disillusionment after failing to qualify for the 2000 Olympics at Sydney.

Maloney, who steered Lennox Lewis to the world heavyweight title, said: "Kevin was very unlucky at the Commonwealth Games. To get stopped by a bloody nose was crazy.

"I told him medals don't pay mortgages but he is determined to try to win an Olympic gold and I admire him for taking the gamble.

"If Kevin achieves his ambition he will be worth a fortune overnight. I will watch his progress with interest and probably pester him again soon."

CAPTION(S):

GAMES GLORY: Kevin Evans
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Nov 12, 2002
Words:329
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