Top Rank Promotion chief Bob Arum welcomed the proposal of the Amateur International Boxing Association (AIBA) to allow professional boxers to compete in this year’s Rio Olympics. But Arum quickly added that he believes it’s “unrealistic for Manny Pacquiao, the Philippines’ best boxer to compete in the Rio Games.
“It’s good for so many young Filipino professional boxers if ever it happens. It boosts the chance of the Philippines to end the [Olympic gold medal] drought,” Arum told The Manila Times in a phone interview. “But if you’re going to ask me about Manny’s participation, it’s unrealistic.”
AIBA President Dr. Ching-Kuo Wu Wu announced recently that he wants boxing to follow the example of tennis, where the sport’s professional players compete at the Olympics.
“As far as I know, the plan of AIBA is to allow professional boxers who have only less than 15 paid fights to compete in the Olympics,” Arum said. “In Manny’s case, he fought many times or more than 15 in the professional rank, same goes with Nonito [Donaire Jr.]. I have no any idea if they changed the rule.”
Arum also cited lack of preparation why Pacquiao is unlikely to fight in Rio, “I know competing in the Olympics is prestige, but the lack of time and preparation will make it really impossible and unrealistic for Manny and Nonito. They also have a contract with us.”
For Michael Koncz, Pacquiao’s adviser, Pacman fighting in the Olympics is unlikely to happen, “I do not think it is going to happen,” he said in a separate interview. “What’s the benefit for Manny competing in the Olympics? To get injured?”
“I doubt it if ever it happens because Manny is very busy preparing for his fight against Timothy Bradley on April 9 in Las Vegas and the election. Manny is running for a senatorial seat and he has no time for it,” Koncz added.
Meanwhile, the father and trainer of Donaire as well as local boxing promoter JC Mananquil are against AIBA’s proposal.
“It will do more harm than good because it won’t be fair to all amateur boxers. At the same time, there’s also huge disparity between amateur and professional,” said Nonito Sr. “If Nonito will be allowed to fight in the Olympics, he might kill those amateur boxers because he is faster and stronger than them.”
“But it is really up to Nonito if he likes to fight and represent the country in the Olympics,” he added.
“The spirit and essence of amateur boxing will be gone if ever it happens,” said Mananquil, who is the promoter of defending World Boxing Association light flyweight world champion Randy Petalcorin. “I guess it is all about the money.
”Reigning World Boxing Organization light flyweight Donnie “Ahas” Nietes, meanwhile, expressed his willingness to represent the Philippines in the Olympics if ALA President Michael Aldeguer would allow him.
“Of course, I’m willing to compete there because it is Olympics but my manager has the final say,” said Nietes, the country’s longest reigning Filipino world boxing champion.
Association of Boxing Alliances of the Philippines (ABAP) President Ricky Vargas, for his part, said that the proposal of AIBA gives the country a huge advantage to win its first Olympic gold medal.
“That’s good for our part because we have so many good professional boxers like Manny Pacquiao, but it is really up to these boxers if ever they like to represent the country in the Olympics. They must only remember that there is no money here in amateur,” said Vargas.
“We cannot order them to compete in the Olympics if ever they don’t feel to compete,” he added.
ABAP Executive Director Ed Picson, who is currently in the United States, said that they would wait for the complete implementing rules from AIBA.
“Anyway, Dr. Wu and I have been discussing this topic since last year. And yes, he is considering inviting Manny to fight in the Olympics,” said Picson via email. “Dr. Wu even asked me to relay the invitation to Pacquiao early last year and I did.”
“He also mentioned it to Pacquiao when I brought Manny to the AIBA World Championship in Doha last September. I think Manny is interested. But we will have to wait till the complete implementing rules come out. As of now, everything is still generalized,” he ended.
JOSEF T. RAMOS