There is no doubt that Boxing is heading for a major showdown. Just over a week ago AIBA (International Amateur Boxing Association) ordered all boxing associations around the world to drop the word Amateur from their titles. Indicating the end of amateur boxing, a crucial part in the development of future World Champions.
This should not have come as a total surprise with AIBA creating World Series Boxing and selling Franchises around the world for boxers to sign up to. The winners receiving financial reward for their success. Many believe that this latest move is one that emphasises AIBA President Dr CK Wu looking to seize control of the sport world wide, especially as the noble art has suffered from too many versions of a World Title and lost market share to Mixed Martial Arts.
At the World Boxing Council Conference in Cancun a session was dedicated to this move and several of the smaller national boxing boards declared that they had been offered financial inducements to show allegiance to AIBA.
Ultimately it is believed that this move will see the end of amateur boxing, the end of boxers wearing headgear in fights, the end of national boards running the sport and the end of promoters as AIBA will determine who fights who and not the money men.
The WBC revealed that they had written to the head of the IOC Jacques Rogge asking where this means that boxing will stand in the Olympic Games, as if it is to no longer be an exclusively amateur sport then boxers from the professional field should now be allowed to enter the Games. At the time of the conference they had not received a reply, and so a delegation was announced that will be heading to IOC headquarters in Switzerland to discuss the issue face to face.
The fear amongst many at the WBC convention was that AIBA wishes to take total control of the sport along the lines of FIFA; which one would not think is the ideal model on which to base your sporting governance. However it was felt that if boxing is to become totally professional then the Olympic Games should be restricted to fighters who have had 15 or less professional bouts.
It would of course mean the end of the WBC, WBA, WBO, IBF and IBO, so there is bound to be a large opposition from the professional ranks to such a move.
It is a shame that AIBA – who will no doubt have to change their name too – has taken this move even if it was inevitable as the amateur ranks and the Olympic games tournament has helped produce some truly great World Champions. Champions who have said that the amateur ranks were where they built up experience and also learned their technique, boxing greats such as Muhammed Ali, Lennox Lewis, and Sugar Ray Leonard.
It would appear that this is only round one, it will be interesting to see how the fight develops. One thing is for sure it may be a painful period for boxing, but if it results in less World Champions that has to be good for all concerned, however unity will be the key.