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Sunday, May 26, 2024

WBC: Letting pros fight amateurs is a real crime

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THE World Boxing Council, under its president Mauricio Sulaiman, has continued its criticism of the move of AIBA—the international governing body for the sport.

The WBC accusing the AIBA of of being  “tarnished in recent years with scandals and accusations, with terrible officiating and with a confusing plan to become involved in professional boxing, and with only commercial vision, which have led the sport of boxing to be at the lowest levels in amateur competition ever.”

“Boxing is a founding sport of the original Olympics from Greece and has been one of the mayor attractions in the modern Olympic Games,” the WBC statement said. “The Olympic glory has been fundamental stage in some of the greatest world champions in history.  Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier, George Foreman, Sugar Ray Leonard, Oscar de la Hoya and Lennox Lewis, just to name a few, were Olympic medalists.”

Top Rank promoter Bob Arum has branded the move of allowing professional boxers to fight in the Olympics against amateurs a “total madness.” AFP

It alleged that questionable officiating has led to “horrible injustice” and cited the cases of Roy Jones Jr., Evander Holyfield, Floyd Mayweather and Jeff Fenech and many others, who were robbed of Olympic glory. 

“In recent years,  AIBA, has been constantly changing its rules, which they apply worldwide with tremendous inconsistencies.”

Sulaiman said while the boxing world is facing an AIBA proposal to allow professional boxers to compete in the Olympics, the  WBC wrote a letter to the International Olympic Committee, which responded by directing the WBC to communicate with AIBA directly. 

The WBC president said the premier pro boxing organization in the world “representing the opinion and concern of thousands around the world, is absolutely opposed to having professional boxers compete in the Olympic Games of Rio, which is only 78 days from now. There are many unanswered facts about this step but all leads to the danger of allowing a mature professional fighter facing a young inexperienced fighter. AIBA is using the names of Manny Pacquiao, Wladimir Klitschko, Andre Ward, Canelo Alvarez and Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. as candidates to compete in the Olympic Games.”

The WBC noted that there are so many uncertain factors about eligibility and competition format, which is proof that AIBA is rushing into a decision, which could lead to tragic consequences. 

The WBC has spoken to many fighters, who have expressed their opinion, saying that “letting professional versus amateur boxers is a real crime. It is attacking the very roots of boxing; it endangers the lives and careers of young talented boxers and AIBA is behind this madness for money. The people must raise their voice against this measure and professional boxers should not even consider this criminal offering. Let’s create a common front in benefit of boxing”.

Hall of Fame trainer Ignacio “Nacho” Beristain and Top Rank promoter Bob Arum have both branded the move “total madness.”

 “Olympic boxing is built for amateurs and is the highest achievement you can get, alongside being world amateur champion. All of a sudden you could have a scenario where someone like former world heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko, who won Olympic gold in Atlanta and has so much experience, could go up against a kid of 18 who has had just 10 fights,” said  former  heavyweight king  Lennox Lewis. 

Sulaiman also cited Britain’s heavyweight David Haye. “All it’s going to take is one 17-year-old kind from Sweden fighting an American 30-year-old current world champion, puts the poor kid into a coma and then everyone will ask: Why did you allow that to happen? Obviously, it is a contact sport so why would you allow that 17-year-old boy to fight this 30-year-old man who has already won the Olympics 10 years ago?  What’s the point?”

Argentina’s popular former world champion Sergio “Maravilla” Martinez was quoted as saying: “AIBA has done it. They are now the terrorists of boxing, mercenaries that risk the life of young boys that dream with the Olympic glory by matching them against professional boxers. Our humanitarian obligation is to fight and put an end to these absurd practices that prioritize economic interests over the human life. Let’s create a common front in benefit of boxing.”

Mexico’s former world flyweight champion Jorge Arce said: “I think it is not wise to allow professionals on the Olympics. The Olympic games are a great motivation and if this happens the dream will end. It may occur a tragedy. Professional fighters have more capacity, better technique. Boxing is a process, if you remove the headgear from the amateurs and allow professionals to fight them, a tragedy may occur. I fought in the Olympics eight years ago, you can not allow fights between professionals or world champions and  young amateur fighters. That would be a big risk”

Mexican legend Erik “El Terrible” Morales also joined the critical chorus. “Professional boxing is an art, is an exact way of winning or losing with skills, effort and technique. As amateur you are in a learning stage, the fights are scored different. You cannot compare both, for this kind of egoistic initiatives fatal accidents could happen. At the end of the day, amateur fighters are not familiar on what professional boxing is, that would be a great disadvantage to happen on the Olympics. They don’t have the skills, the training, experience. I don’t understand this, professionals have a lot of advantages over amateurs. Another Mexican legend Marco Antonio Barrera branded it “madness, I agree with Mauricio, we must not have fights between pros and amateurs. They would be dumping to the garbage all the illusion of the young fighters; they would be trampling on the dreams of amateurs. The professionals have a lot of experience and I think that definitively, the punches are really different. A big tragedy may happen. We should continue as now, amateurs vs. amateurs and pros vs. pros.”

 The WBC concluded: “IOC has stepped out of the matter and directed AIBA to make all decisions. June the 1 will be the day in which the delegates of AIBA will vote about this matter and will be certainly a day in which  all voting delegates will have in their hands the safety and well being of the amateur fighters of the world.”


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