February 25, 2016 / 3:12 PM / 3 years ago

AIBA plan for pros in Rio is farcical, says Briton Smith

LONDON (Reuters) - A proposal to allow established professional boxers to compete in the Olympic Games in Rio this year is farcical, one of Britain’s leading boxing administrators said.

AIBA President Wu Ching-Kuo attends a news conference in Baku in this file photo dated September 24, 2011. REUTERS/Osman Karimov

Ching-Kuo Wu, head of the International Boxing Association (AIBA), said on Wednesday he wanted to see top-ranked pros like Floyd Mayweather competing for gold medals, possibly as soon as this year. The AIBA organizes the Olympic boxing matches.

The AIBA executive committee would still need to approve Wu’s plans. And Robert Smith, general secretary of the British Boxing Board of Control, says those plans are unworkable.

“I can’t see how it would work to be honest,” Smith told Reuters on Thursday. “Are you really going to put in Floyd Mayweather against some little boy who has qualified through the Olympic system in Rio? There is a gulf in class and ability.

“It’s farcical to think this could happen in time for Rio. How can you just click your fingers and just sort it out now?”

Amateur boxers are selected for the Olympics in various ways, including the world amateur championships and continental qualifying tournaments in Africa, the Americas, Asia and Europe.

Pros with less than 15 bouts are eligible to enter the qualification process under current AIBA rules, but Smith said it would be unfair to invite experienced professionals.

“At the present time you have boxers going around the world trying to qualify for the Olympics. Are you going to say, ‘thanks very much but goodbye, we are going to have somebody else’,” said Smith, whose organization has overseen professional boxing in Britain since 1929.

Smith also doubts professional world champions would want to jeopardize their careers by taking part in three-round contests that bear little resemblance to professional bouts.

“Is a professional boxer going to drop everything to go and fight in the Olympics? Pros take three rounds to warm up. It’s a different discipline,” he said.

“I wouldn’t have thought anyone who’s already been there, done it, been a world champion, wants to go back and jeopardize what they’ve already achieved.”

Under Wu’s leadership, the AIBA set up the semi-professional World Series Boxing in 2011, in which boxers can earn money fighting for city-based teams. He was also helped introduce women’s boxing to the Olympics in London four years ago.

“It is an IOC policy to have the best athletes in the Games,” he said on Wednesday, “and of the international federations, AIBA is probably the only one without professional athletes in the Olympics.”

While reaction was lukewarm at best, the British Amateur Boxing Association (BABA) left the door slightly ajar.

“The proposals have the potential to broaden the talent pool from which we are able to select boxers and we look forward to hearing more about them in due course,” it said in a statement.

Reporting by Martyn Herman, editing by Larry King

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