Professional Boxers in Olympics, Yeh or Neh?

Professional Boxers in Olympics
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There's been a lot of debate in 2016 ahead of the Rio Olympics about pro boxers potentially competing in the games and into future Olympics.

It was a story that caused widespread commotion among fans, industry insiders, boxers and more for a variety of reasons.

Let's take a look at some of the implications such a move could have down the line, if it were to ever come into effect.

Fairness

The main concern I'd have straight off the bat is just how fair would it be?

Boxing in the Olympics is still competed by amateur athletes predominately as of 2016, even though some of them do train like professionals to be fair.

But the gulf in difference between professional boxers and amateur boxers is considerable, the two are almost two completely different sports - that require different attributes.

Amateur boxing typically requires it's combatants to score points from a safe range and stick and move, whereas the pro game is much more physical and power comes into play a lot more.

I question how fair it would be to let a top level professional like Tyson Fury or Wladimir Klitschko for example, get in the ring with a young amateur heavyweight.

The results could be catastrophic when you think about it.

Health

This leads me to my next point.

Not only would the fights be in a lot of cases very unfair because of the gulf in ability, but it could bring about serious health concerns too.

Boxing is a dangerous enough sport as it is, amateur or pro, where fights need to be matched well at the best of times due to the physical dangers that can often come about from a match.

The sport has made remarkable strides in it's health record in recent memory but unfortunately, you would still see the occasional fatality or serious injury suffered every year due to the dangers that will always exist in any contact sport.

By putting a world class professional fighter, who in theory could even be a world champion according to what was been proposed at one point, in with a novice boxer who's had less than 30 or 20 fights ever in their lives, is very, very dangerous indeed.

Money

Another thing I struggle to come to terms with in relation to the whole idea of letting the world's best pro boxers fight in the Olympics is, well, why would they want to?

Pro boxers after all are referred to as 'prizefighters' and with amateur boxing offering no purse or pay per view revenue appeal, potentially all a professional fighter could get would be some sponsorship money.

The money in theory could be a lot less than they would make in a pro fight, certainly for the top tier pay per view stars of the sport - so I'd be skeptical about what would motivate some of the best boxers in the world to revert back to the Olympics pay scale.

Even if their respective countries funded them to do so, I can't see there being enough money in it for the likes of a Mayweather for example, to take such a drastic pay cut.

Exposure

Where I can see the idea making sense for some professional boxers who may not be particularly high up in the ranks - is the marketing aspect of things.

 

Some professional boxers struggle to get a promotional deal with a notable promoter early on in their pro careers, which leads to an even bigger struggle to find a television platform to get their pugilistic exploits noticed enough where they can grow their star and ultimately - make it to the top of the lucrative pay per view tree and become unified world champion.

The Olympics is a massive platform every four years seen by millions across the world.

I can see why the exposure might appeal for some up and coming pro fighters or those wishing to get their name back on the radar again to secure big fights down the line.

Format

One thing that I thought Hall of Fame boxer Barry McGuigan pointed out very well in recent times since the whole debate came about, was the actual disadvantage that could exist for some of the pros in terms of getting used to the old amateur format again.

At the risk of contradicting my first point under 'fairness' there might be some merit to McGuigan's rational.

He eluded to the fact that the amateur format is obviously over a lot shorter amount of rounds, of a lesser time limit per round, and that pro fighters as a consequence would need a significant period of time to alter their training regimes to adjust once again to the shorter distance and that their stamina and speed would be affected as more punches would be needed to be thrown.

This also of course could seriously alter a pro fighter's style who through their pro career may have developed a style predicated on knockouts, whereas in the amateurs it is more about scoring points.

It was a point raised by very few other than McGuigan but an extremely valid one when you analyze it.

In essence, you would almost be asking a professional boxer to forget a lot of the things they've learned as a pro and go backwards entirely with their style and training routine, to re-acclimatize to their old amateur style, that they spent so long on moving on getting away from when they decided to make the decision to turn pro.

Implications on the sport as a whole

Perhaps the biggest question that needs to be asked about any potential move that would see top tier professional boxers compete in the Olympics with amateurs is - what long-term implications could such a move have on the sport as a whole?

Lets be honest, pro boxing is already complicated enough with all the belts and politics for the average sports fan to keep with or understand.

Imagine throwing another variable like this into the mix?

If you look at how amateur boxing has been evolving in recent years not just in the Olympics but as a whole, as of 2016 you could say there has been a steady progression towards moving amateur boxing closer to the professional code overall.

This debate in that regard, could be the biggest push in that trend in some time.

You just have to look at all the changes in recent years from amateurs now not wearing head guards in the Olympics for example, to see that this is where some of the powers that be in amateur boxing perhaps want the sport to go.

Would it be right for amateur boxing to move towards how pro boxing operates?

In one sense you could say that the entertainment value of the sport could go up in the amateurs, but then again, the long-term risk of fighters taking more heavy accumulative blows to the head would also go up.

Such a move in my opinion would just cause more unwanted disruption to both codes, which are both doing quite well in their own rights anyway.

It could also set a very dangerous precedence in terms of corrupting the grass roots level of the game, as if pro boxers were able to compete in the Olympics and the two codes eventually became one unified sport of boxing, you could also see capitalism kick in terms of promoters, agents and managers trying to get involved with the signing of youngsters earlier than they usually do.

The grass roots level of boxing is a cornerstone of the sport that should be left as it is in my view, as it not only forms the basis for amateur boxers to one day become big stars in the pros, but also has an important place in society in terms of keeping youngsters off the streets and giving confidence and discipline to young men and women alike.

Top pro boxers in the Olympics? Not a good move I would have thought.