GENEVA: Boxing’s global governing body will vote within three months on proposals that would allow all professional fighters to compete in the Olympic Games, including in Rio, AIBA’s president told Agence France-Presse on Monday (Tuesday in Manila).
The measures, which would effectively eliminate the sport’s historic distinction between professionals and amateurs, will be put to a vote at an extraordinary congress of AIBA confederations.
AIBA president Ching-Kuo Wu has consistently made it clear, including at an AIBA meeting last week, that he believes boxing is best served by having its top fighters compete at the Olympics.
Proposed changes to AIBA statutes “that would leave [Olympic] eligibility in the hands of the national federations” will be voted on at congress to be held “most likely on the 30th or 31st of May”, Wu told Agence France-Presse.
Qualifying for the 2016 summer games in Rio de Janeiro is already under way, but Wu noted that there were still opportunities for professionals to qualify.
He voiced confidence that boxing confederations, which have been widely consulted on the proposed statute changes, would approve the measures.
“It is absolutely the right thing to do, to increase the opportunity for pro-boxers” who meet national qualification guidelines to compete at the Olympics, said Wu.
Global boxing has been governed by a so-called “alphabet soup” of various sanctioning bodies, a trend that some believe has hampered the sport by creating confusion and rivalry, including with respect to professional titles.
AIBA holds added influence as it is the only body recognized by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and therefore sets guidelines on who can compete at the Games.
If the new measures are approved, countries could now put forward big name fighters for Rio, including global stars like American Floyd Mayweather.
Rules introduced in 2013 made professional boxers eligible for the Olympics, but only if they had fewer than 15 paid bouts and signed a short-term deal with the APB, AIBA’s professional arm.
The new proposals would nullify those rules.
The move would echo similar decisions made by basketball and ice hockey authorities to send professional players to the Olympics, elevating the Games to a high-profile contest of the best athletes in those sports.
If approved, the new measures would be “very good for the sport of boxing in the Olympic games”, Wu said.