Mixed reaction over AIBA decision

Former world champion Carl Frampton and a number of other high-profile fighters have criticised the decision to allow professionals to box at the Olympics.

The International Boxing Association (AIBA) voted for the rule change before the Rio Games, which start on August 5.

Northern Irishman Frampton said amateur and pro boxing were “two different sports”.

The British Boxing Board of Control called on AIBA to “reconsider” its decision, saying it was “dangerous”.

In a statement it said: “It is against the spirit of the Olympics, disrespectful to the many GB amateur boxers who, throughout the Olympic cycle compete around the world in qualifying tournaments.”

Newly-crowned WBC world cruiserweight champion Tony Bellew also said the move was “dangerous”.

He told BBC Radio 5 live: “To fight a guy with no professional experience is insane. I just can’t see what there is to be gained. It’s wrong to even suggest it, never mind put it in place.”

The 33-year-old added that the Olympic event would be “tarnished” if a pro boxer won it.

“It wouldn’t really be an Olympic gold medal,” said Bellew.

“A professional winning an Olympic medal is wrong on so many levels. No-one in boxing in my opinion would take them seriously if they won the gold medal.”

Former world champions Carl Froch and Ricky Hatton both criticised the move, but the retired Froch does not consider it to be a dangerous development, saying the best amateurs are capable of beating their professional counterparts in the amateur format.

“I don’t think it’s any more dangerous,” Froch said.

“There’s no headguards anymore in the amateurs. I’ve trained and sparred with many top amateurs: honestly they hold their own, all of them.”

However, 2012 Olympic bronze medallist Michael Conlan says he is happy to fight against professionals as he seeks to add gold to the bronze he won in London.

“It wouldn’t bother me, I’ll beat all of them,” the Ireland bantamweight said.

The vote to allow pro boxers to fight at the Olympics took place at an AIBA meeting in Switzerland.

The decision means any professional can enter a qualifying event in Venezuela next month in an attempt to win selection, with 26 entry places up for grabs.


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