Can professional boxers compete in the Olympics

Ringside 26/09/2018

First and foremost, this already happened at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio.

If you by any chance were not aware of this, you might not be the biggest or the best boxing fan. For what it’s worth, the 2016 event is well behind us, and the 2020 Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo are just around the corner. In order for professional boxers to gain Olympics eligibility, some changes just had to take place. We’re going to discuss them and the problems associated with the whole idea of professionals competing with amateurs. Spears were broken, and the boxing community is divided like never before!

To Clarify – The Difference Between Pro and Amateur Boxing

Let’s first go through the basics. Below you can find the fundamental differences between Professional and Amateur Boxing, the differences between a Fighter and a Boxer, the difference between a Fight and a Bout!

AreaProfessionalAmateur
HeadguardsProhibitedMandatory
GlovesDepending on JurisdictionUsed to Cushion Impact – 10 oz. – AIBA Certified
VaselineAllowedProhibited
InjuriesIf TKO only!Bouts can be Stopped
OutclassedNo RuleReferee can Stop the Bout
NoviceNo RuleCan compete with Peers Only
ObjectivesBe Aggressive, Injure the Opponent, Knock-downsLand As Many Correct Scoring Blows as Possible
RefereeTo ensure the FIGHT is FairTo PROTECT the Boxers

There are some impactful differences which have been discussed. This is a big change! With the differences addressed, we can take a look at what the boxing community had to say about it, and a few other interesting points of view.

Introduction of “Fighters” in the Olympics was BIG Among Punters

The introduction of professional boxers, or Fighters was big in the betting industry. Although not extremely popular, such as soccer and tennis for instance, this attracted the attention of passionate bettors who had no idea what betting on boxing was all about. Now, you have the upper hand, but it’s best to check for a legal betting site, and avoid unpleasant experiences. Punters literally swarmed the boxing area in the sportsbooks, causing a real mayhem among online bookmakers in particular.

If this changed managed to get the attention of people who like to make money out of it, there had to be something else, right? Correct. Even the medical community had to say a word or two about it.

The Sports Medical Experts Viewpoint

Putting two very different approaches to boxing clash can be dangerous. For the purpose of clarity, we’re going to refer to amateur boxers as Boxers and professional ones as Fighters. So, the objective of a Fighter is to inflict as many heavy blows as possible, literally injure the opponent. Power is an important factor! On the other hand, there are boxers, who just want to score points. “JUST” is probably an understatement, because they have 3 rounds to do it. Fighters can implement a strategic approach, because the Fight could extend up to 15 rounds.

In other words, Fighters attempt to use as much of their power in 3 rounds. This raises some red flags!

Another thing, the removal of the headgear. Many experts in the field have stated that this will make the Olympics bloodier than ever. The 10-point must rule is not enough! Imagine a kid watching the “bout” and seeing so much blood. Sure, this is an out of the box opinion, an uncommon one to say the least, but it will definitely make boxing less “gentle”.

Probably the only thing that’s in favour of boxers is the rule which mandates the use of 10 oz. gloves which have to be AIBA certified.

To wrap it up, according to medical experts, in the long run, this will make the bouts bloodier, more violent, and certain PG filters have to be enforced to protect the youngest box fans. The count of injuries will go up, and we have to live with it!

Some “Fighters” Don’t Want to Take Part in the Olympics – Why?

It’s a peculiar topic, mainly because we’re not that fond of its nature. The thing is, top professional boxers like to keep the status quo, they work around it. No wonder there are a few colossal fights per year only. They don’t want their status questioned. One of the main conditions for a professional boxer to gain Olympics eligibility is to sign a 5 year contract with AIBA and compete on pro cards before the tournament. In spite of AIBA’s changes, such as the removal of headgear, fighters are not in the Olympics, at least not the ones that are present on the boxing scene, or “fighting” scene to be precise.

Imagine a pro getting OUTCLASSED by somebody who’s considered amateur! An outrage, this will be an end to his career. We’d like to think of it as a test, AIBA’s way of testing the waters, seeing whether they can put a leash on professional boxers.

From this perspective, we totally understand professional boxers. It’s in their best interest to avoid  high risk low reward contests.

2016 VS 2020 Summer Olympics from Boxing Perspective

There were only 3 professionals who took part in the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, mainly due to the late announcement that pros CAN take part in the tournament. The Olympics were always considered as a stepping stone for amateurs that would allow them to join the ranks of professionals and start a pro career. Can the 2020 bring new faces on the professional boxing scene? Can the Tokyo 2020 be the time and place when many professionals who take part put an end to their career sooner than later? We can only wait and see.

However, personal opinion, we would like to see how it will turn out. Hopefully, there will be enough professionals just to get a clear idea of how big the impact is. 3 professionals are just not enough. It’s more of an internal fight from the “Fighter’s” perspective. A 5 year period is pretty long. Is it worth it?