Frank Warren, one of Britain’s most successful professional boxing promoters, has claimed that the sport at the Olympic must remain amateur despite plans from the International Boxing Association (AIBA) to move it towards professionalism after London 2012.
Earlier this month, AIBA President C K Wu unveiled a new program entitled AIBA Professional Boxing (APB), to be launched in 2013, which will allow competitors to retain their Olympic eligibility despite boxing professionally.
Wu, who is also an International Olympic Committee (IOC) member, told insidethegames that he is hopeful the sport’s top professional stars such as Floyd Mayweather Junior, Manny Pacquiao and Amir Khan will compete in the completion saying “the door is open to them” but Warren believes Olympic boxing must remain amateur.
“News this week is that professional boxing could feature at the 2016 Olympics in Rio – but I can’t see how it’s a good idea,” Warren wrote in his column in The Sun.
“The IOC confirmed it was discussing the move with the International Amateur Boxing Association.
“But where would it leave the amateur sport?
“Over the years, sports such as tennis have been introduced to the Olympics, even though Roger Federer and company would prefer to win Wimbledon than a gold medal.
“Pro boxers have world titles to aim for – and their side of the sport is completely different to the amateur set-up.”
The new format will see amateur boxers compete without head guards while being scored by three judges but Warren said that this fact is irrelevant in comparing professional and amateur boxers.
“Even without the head guards, it’s two different styles,” he wrote.
“Will only ‘novice’ pros with a certain amount of fights be allowed to compete or can we expect to see Floyd Mayweather (pictured) and Manny Pacquiao pulling on a vest and headgears?
“There could be a few amateurs running for cover if that’s the case.
“I know the proposals haven’t gone down too well with members of the ABA (Amateur Boxing Association), even though plans are afoot to allow some professionals to fight in amateur competitions in the next few years.
“The IOC says that it encourages the participation of the best athletes – but boxing already works as an Olympic sport and it’s supposed to be about the best amateur athletes.
“For London 2012, tickets were oversubscribed – boxing is always an event the public get behind.
“Audley Harrison, Amir Khan and James DeGale became household names after getting on the podium at Sydney [in 2000], Athens [in 2004] and Beijing [in 2008].
“In the past, Cubans and Eastern Europeans led the way in amateur boxing because their fighters had huge funding programmes and weren’t allowed to turn pro.
“The gap has narrowed though with the collapse of the Soviet Union, and more funds available in Western Europe, especially in the UK.
“I’m all for innovation and trying to improve a product.
“But as far as amateur boxing goes, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
Insidethegames.biz is an online blog affiliated with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the organizers of the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. Please contact the writer of this story at firstname.lastname@example.org.