Professional boxers are now allowed to compete at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil after the International Boxing Association (Aiba) changed its rules. 84 out of 88 delegates made the vote to make pro’s eligible in Switzerland. Fighters are not expected to be given a wildcard and will have to go through qualification just like any other competitor.
There is no doubting it is a very bold decision in the world of boxing. The games have always been a great stepping stone for amateur boxers, and puts them in a league of their own. The decision to allow pros could be damaging to the careers of young fighters.
On the other hand, for spectators it could prove to be a once in a lifetime opportunity to see some fantastic boxers. Although the Olympics is not the pinnacle of boxing, a gold medal will always have a certain prestige.
The decision has had a very mixed response. There have been a number of high profile fighters who have said it is the wrong decision. Tony Bellew said it was a ‘dangerous decision’ that the Aiba should seriously reconsider. ‘To fight a guy with no professional experience is insane. I just can’t see what there is to be gained. It’s wrong to even suggest it, never mind put in place.’
It is hard to see some of the top names trying to compete in Rio. A host of starts, already have medals from the tournament. Mike Tyson and Joshua Anthony have gold medals to their name, whilst Amir Khan has a silver medal. The idea behind the Boxing Association’s decision was primarily to get professionals at the Tokyo games in 2020. With only a few spots left for Rio it is highly unlikely, any of the big names will be there.The odds of seeing Anthony Joshua vs Dereck Chisora, competing at the Olympics could still be a little way off.
David Haye was also quick to voice his opinion, stating that if he had fought himself as an amateur, he would have done himself ‘damage.’ He then went onto say that there are much bigger honors in boxing.
Not everyone has had the same thoughts, however. Boxing legend Mike Tyson has said that some pros ‘will be beaten by amateurs.’
There could be a big change with regards to the fighting format. Currently pro boxers fight over 12 rounds, each lasting three minutes, whilst amateur fights only consist of three rounds lasting three minutes. However, an amateur could fight several times in just a few days.
Former WBA and IBF super-bantamweight champion Carl Frampton, said that if the rounds stay at three minutes, then the amateurs could ‘spurn a few surprises.’
Rio will surely be used as a test platform for the new boxing format. It could be brilliant to see some amateurs upset the odds and take out a professional