International Boxing Association (Aiba) president Ching-Kuo Wu has maintained that top professional boxers will compete at the 2016 Olympic Games, as long as a constitutional change in the governing body’s statutes is approved in June.
Wu (pictured) last week said that Aiba is seeking to push through plans that would allow elite professional boxers to compete at Rio 2016. Since 2013, Olympics eligibility has been extended to professional boxers who have fought fewer than 15 paid bouts and were willing to sign a short-term contract with Aiba Pro Boxing (APB).
Opening up boxing at the Olympics to more pro fighters has been met with a mixed response. Indeed, World Boxing Council (WBC) president Mauricio Sulaiman last week hit out at the plan, stating he was “deeply concerned” by the proposal.
Sulaiman said that Aiba “does not have a clue of what boxing means and represents.” The head of professional boxing’s most prominent sanctioning body also predicted “dangerous mismatches between experienced professional fighters and amateur boxers” if the pros take up Aiba’s invitation.
Wu told the Reuters news agency today (Tuesday): “Professional boxers will be at Rio. I don't know how many but they will be. But they will have to go through the same procedures as everyone else. What we have to do is just amend the constitution of Aiba and we will do that at an extraordinary congress in June. The constitution is the only thing blocking this at the moment.”
Boxers qualify for the Games in a series of regional events, many of which start later this month. Wu said after the constitutional amendment goes through, professionals could secure their places at Rio 2016 during the final world Olympic qualifying tournament in Azerbaijan in mid-June.
He added: “Everyone will need to qualify, they will need to be picked by their own federations so there are things that need to happen first. They don't get in just like that. What Aiba wants to do is open the door for professionals. Boxing is probably the only sport in the Olympics not represented by pros.”