World Boxing Council (WBC) President Mauricio Sulaiman of Mexico has expressed his firm opposition to the proposal of the Amateur International Boxing Association (AIBA) to let professional boxers fight in the Olympics.
“It is a clear demonstration of AIBA’s total failure to generate competitiveness and good competition in the Olympics,” Sulaiman told The Manila Times in an exclusive interview at the Gabriel “Flash” Elorde Awards Night at the Sofitel Hotel Grandball room in Manila on Tuesday.
Sulaiman, 46, is the son of the late WBC president Jose Sulaiman.
“They ([AIBA] are now just looking to generate publicity. I think it is impossible for any professional fighter of that established level would consider fighting in the Olympics,” he said. “The Olympic games are for kids whose body is just starting to mature and it is very dangerous for them [to fight professional boxers].”
Sulaiman emphasized the difference of boxing from other sports; “Boxing is not like basketball where you shoot in the basket, not soccer where you shoot in the goal, not tennis or baseball where you will just hit the ball. In boxing, you do not play. Boxing is combat.”
“It is a very dangerous sports especially if the level of opposition is not equal that’s why we are completely opposed to this idea. It is very risky and no sense. It will only hurt the fighters especially [those]in the amateur side.”
He believes that AIBA should just leave Olympic boxing as it is. “It is a dream of many kids to represent their country [in the Olympics]and win the gold. But in professional [boxing], it is more of a livelihood.”
“Professional boxers are matured fighters, it is a different mixture. You just cannot jump from amateur to fight a world professional fighter. It is impossible to match. AIBA must return to the basics. They exists exclusively for the Olympics, but they wanted to organize professional boxing as well.”
“AIBA is doing this for economic and commercial purposes, but they have no any idea and they don’t understand what boxing is all about. The business side of boxing is being organized by independent promoters like Don King, Bob Arum and Golden Boy [Oscar De La Hoya].”
Sulaiman warns of the risks if AIBA pushed through with its plans, “If somebody gets seriously hurt in the Olympics because of this, they will kill boxing in the Olympics. They might remove boxing as an Olympic sport if that happens.”
Meanwhile, International Boxing Organization world light flyweight champion Rey Loreto and World Boxing Association light flyweight titleholder Randy Petalcorin received the Boxer of the Year plum in this year’s edition of the Elorde Awards Night.
Manny Pacquiao skipped the event because of his upcoming bout with Timothy Bradley on April 9.
Former world champions Gerry Peñalosa (WBO bantamweight), Rolando Navarette (WBC super featherweight), Reneo Barrientos (WBC super featherweight), Erbito Salavarria (WBC flyweight) and Ronnie Magramo (WBF minimumweight) were present in the casting of fist rites.
The other awardees were Danrex Tapdasan (best referee), Nonito Donaire Sr. (best trainer), Jonathan Taconing (promising boxer), Mark Magsayo (promising boxer) and the Jonathan Taconing versus Joemar Fajardo bout (best fight of the year).
The Lope “Papa” Sarreal Achievement Award was bestowed upon promoter Michael Aldeguer of ALA Promotion.