Professional fighters ranked in the top 15 of the World Boxing Council (WBC) ratings face a two-year ban if they compete at this year’s Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, they have been warned.
The International Boxing Association (AIBA) Extraordinary Congress voted yesterday to allow professional fighters to compete alongside amateurs. A special qualification tournament is due to be held in Venezuela next month to give these fighters a chance to qualify. Concerns have been raised, however, due to the differences between the professional and amateur ranks.
“The WBC has expressed its opinion with total opposition towards AIBA’s decision to allow professional boxers to fight amateur boxers during the Olympic games in Rio 2016,” the Mexico-based WBC said in a statement.
“There are too many unanswered questions, the competition format and standards are not clear and the risks towards the fighters safety are tremendous.
“To have an amateur boxer VS a professional boxer is like having a marathon runner VS a sprint 100-metre runner, both are runners but they compete in different sports and disciplines.”
One fighter who could be threatened with a ban if he competes is Amir Khan, the WBC top-rated welterweight fighter, who has claimed he would like to compete for his native Pakistan at Rio 2016. Khan, who won a silver medal for Team GB at Athens 2004, subsequently turned professional and has boxed for Britain ever since. AIBA has yet to respond to insidethegames’ request as to his eligibility.
Professionals from the United States will not be given the opportunity to compete at Rio 2016 after USA Boxing confirmed today it would not change its already-selected team.
“USA Boxing appreciates AIBA’s continuing efforts toward the evolution of international boxing, and we recognise that the admission of professional boxers is an inevitable development,” they said in a statement.
“However, USA Boxing’s Olympic Selection procedures, on which our amateur athletes have relied for the past two years, preclude us from making the last minute changes that would be required to invite professionals to compete.”
It is expected that other bodies, like Britain, will adopt the same policy.
Eighty-four of the eighty-eight AIBA delegates present voted in favor of the opening of the door, with the world governing body still failing to reveal the four countries that abstained, despite repeated requests from insidethegames for the information.
Philippines’ Manny Pacquiao had been billed as a potential a superstar attraction at Rio 2016 but has decided to focus on his political career as an elected Senator in the Philippines.
Russia is still considering the possibility of entering two reigning professional world champions, light-heavyweight Sergei Kovalev and cruiserweight Denis Lebedev.
Neither are ranked in the top 15 by the WBC.
Ukraine’s two-time Olympic champion turned World Boxing Organisation featherweight world champion Vasyl Lomachenko is another possible contender.
He has suggested Rio 2016 comes too soon, however.
“[For] this Olympics, 2016, I don’t think it would be a wise idea for any professional who just heard the news and would run to the Olympic games right now,” he said.
“I think there needs to be more time to prepare for it.
“The idea of having professional boxers in the Olympics – I am all for it, I like the idea.
“I think in the 2020 Olympics there will be a lot more [professional] fighters because they will have a lot of time to prepare.”
By Nick Butler
Republished with permission from insidethegames.biz