(Second of two parts)
Manny Pacquiao expressed interest last week in representing the Philippines in the Rio Olympics after the AIBA (International Boxing Association, originally the Association Internationale de Boxe Amateur) said it is proposing professional boxers be allowed to compete in this year’s Games
“It would be my honor to represent the country in the Olympics,” Pacquiao told Agence France-Presse. ”If I would be asked to represent boxing, why not? I would do everything for my country.”
If Pacquiao gets to trade leather with amateur boxers in the Olympics, he can become the first Filipino to win an gold from the games if – there’s a big if- if the other top professional boxers will not compete in either the light welterweight (141 pounds) or welterweight (152 pounds) of Olympic boxing.
In the professional ranks, the weight limit for light welterweight is 140 pounds while it is 147pounds for welterweight.
Among the other top boxers in the professional welterweight division today are knockout artist Keith Thurman and Terence Crawford, both undefeated and from the United States, who for sure also want to bring home a boxing gold for their country.
Brook is the No. 1 contender in The Ring magazine’s welterweight rankings while Thurman is ridiculously at No. 5. Pacquiao is ranked No. 2.
It is also possible that the top junior welterweights in the world would also compete in the Olympic boxing weight where Pacquiao will likely participate.
Today’s top junior welterweights include Viktor Apostol of Ukraine and Terence Crawford of the US, who are ranked in The Ring’s list for the division at No. 1 and 2, respectively. Both are undefeated.
But the bad news for Pacquiao if he will choose to compete in the 152-pound division of the Olympics is the possible participation of junior middleweight (154 pounds) Erislandy Lara from Cuba or even Canelo Alvarez of Mexico who may not have a hard time going down to 152 pounds even if he is fighting at middleweight (160 pounds). The highest weight Alvarez has recorded for a weigh in is 155 pounds.
Lara can prove to be too much of a match for Pacquiao given the Cuban’s slick style and 74-inch reach. Alvarez, for his part, may be too strong for the Filipino.
The country’s other top pro boxer, Nonito Donaire, may face lesser challenges than Pacquiao if he decides to get into the Olympic boxing ring. Fighting officially at junior featherweight (122 pounds) in the pro ranks, Donaire can easily make it to the Olympic’s bantamweight division that has a 123-pound limit.
And since the next weight after bantamweight in the Olympics is 132 pounds at lightweight, that means the top dogs in the pro ranks at featherweight (126 pounds) will find it risky to go down to 123 pounds. So that means Donaire’s nemesis, Nicolas Walters from Jamaica, will think twice about entering the Olympic ring at less than three pounds the 126-pound limit of featherweight.
But the bad news for Donaire is his other nemesis, Guillermo Rigondeaux of Cuba, is a three-time Olympic gold medallist who continues to trade leather at 122 pounds in the pro ranks and is in fact No. 1 in The Ring rankings for junior featherweight.
Donaire’s compatriot Genesis Servania, who is No. 5 in The Ring junior featherweight rankings, is also a possible Olympic contender. Donaire is ranked No. 4.
As for the country’s top flyweights, beating The Ring Pound-for-Pound king Roman Gonzales of Nicaragua could be a tough order considering he is a certified knockout artist and may be the only active boxer today who is undefeated both as a professional and amateur.
It looks like the Philippines winning a gold from Olympic boxing will be a tough call.