World Box­ing Coun­cil Pres­i­dent Mauri­cio Su­laiman said the In­ter­na­tional Box­ing As­so­ci­a­tion (Aiba) “does not have a clue of what box­ing means and rep­re­sents.” The head of pro box­ing’s most prom­i­nent gov­ern­ing body also pre­dicted “dan­ger­ous mis­matches be­twe

Business Mirror - - SPORTS - By Greg Beacham

THE pres­i­dent of the World Box­ing Coun­cil ( WBC) sharply crit­i­cized the In­ter­na­tional Box­ing As­so­ci­a­tion (Aiba) on Thurs­day for its in­ten­tion to al­low pro­fes­sional fight­ers to com­pete in the Rio de Janeiro Olympics. The WBC’s Mauri­cio Su­laiman said Aiba “does not have a clue of what box­ing means and rep­re­sents.” The head of pro box­ing’s most prom­i­nent gov­ern­ing body also pre­dicted “dan­ger­ous mis­matches be­tween ex­pe­ri­enced pro­fes­sional fight­ers and am­a­teur box­ers” if the pros take Aiba’s in­vi­ta­tion.

Aiba Pres­i­dent Ching-Kuo Wu con­firmed his in­ten­tion this week to change his or­ga­ni­za­tion’s qual­i­fy­ing struc­ture to al­low pro fight­ers to com­pete for gold medals in the mul­ti­day Olympic tour­na­ment in Au­gust.

Aiba’s lat­est pro­posal to erase the line be­tween pro and am­a­teur box­ing has at­tracted at­ten­tion around the sport, and some pros are in­trigued.

“I would if I could,” Wladimir Kl­itschko told the As­so­ci­ated Press (AP) through a spokesman, when asked about the pos­si­bil­ity of fight­ing for his se­cond gold medal af­ter win­ning for Ukraine in At­lanta in 1996.

But the for­mer long-reign­ing heavy­weight cham­pion added that his re­match with Tyson Fury in the spring would take prece­dence over any at­tempt to make the Ukraine team, likely mak­ing it im­prac­ti­cal for the 39-year- old to com­pete in Rio. For Kl­itschko to get a chance at the 2020 Tokyo Games, Aiba would have to change its age limit of 40 on com­peti­tors. Most top pros would face ma­jor

ob­sta­cles to par­tic­i­pa­tion in the Rio Games. Even af­ter get­ting the im­pri­matur of their na­tional sanc­tion­ing body, they likely would have to travel to Aiba’s world Olympic qual­i­fy­ing tour­na­ment in Azer­bai­jan in June to earn a spot.

In­juries, fi­nan­cial sac­ri­fices, pro com­mit­ments and the stric­tures of a mul­ti­day, mul­ti­fight tour­na­ment would all hurt elite box­ers con­sid­er­ing the move.

“I just think that it’s highly un­likely” for any pros to make the US team in Rio, USA Box­ing ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor Mike Martino told the AP. Aiba’s pro­posed changes al­most cer­tainly would lead to vet­eran pros fight­ing in­ex­pe­ri­enced am­a­teurs, a fac­tor pointed out by Su­laiman in a news re­lease head­lined “Aiba has reached rock bot­tom.”

“By match­ing am­a­teurs against pro­fes­sion­als and elim­i­nat­ing head­gear, Aiba is show­ing that it does not seem to care about the phys­i­cal well-be­ing of the fight­ers or the cor­rect prac­tice of the sport around the world,” Su­laiman said. “How can mul­ti­day box­ing tour­na­ments be con­ducted safely and fairly with­out head­gear? The youth of the world de­serve to have the op­tions and op­por­tu­ni­ties in am­a­teur box­ing.”

Many pro­fes­sional pro­mot­ers and gov­ern­ing bod­ies have spo­ken out against Aiba’s evo­lu­tion in re­cent years, at least partly be­cause Aiba’s at­tempt to con­trol pro box­ing is an in­va­sion of their own long-held turf. Wu has re­peat­edly stated Aiba’s goal to con­trol ev­ery level of box­ing, and it be­gan a ver­sion of pro fight pro­mo­tion with its es­tab­lish­ment of the World Se­ries of Box­ing and APB box­ing leagues. The or­ga­ni­za­tion dropped the word “am­a­teur” from its name and re­moved head guards from its male fight­ers in re­cent years to speed its trans­for­ma­tion into a ver­sion of pro box­ing.

Wu also cham­pi­oned the in­clu­sion of women’s box­ing in the Lon­don Olympics, an ad­di­tion met with wide­spread ac­claim. Women box­ers are al­lowed to wear head­gear in Aiba tour­na­ments, in­clud­ing the Rio Olympics.

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