Road To The Olympic Games

Boxing

Pro boxers competing in Rio Olympics will lose IBF titles

The International Boxing Federation announced that any professional boxers who choose to fight in the upcoming Olympics will be stripped of their IBF titles.

Non-title holders who fight to be removed from rankings for a year

Kazakhstan's Gennady Golovkin is among several title-holding boxers who will not be attempting to qualify for Rio. (Rich Schultz/The Associated Press)

The International Boxing Federation will punish pro boxers who compete in the Rio de Janeiro Olympics by removing them from the sanctioning body's rankings or vacating their titles.

The IBF announced its decision Monday, joining the WBC in an aggressive campaign by sanctioning bodies to keep prominent pros out of the Olympics.

Citing safety concerns that amount to violations of its principles of sportsmanlike competition, the IBF said it will remove any professional Olympic fighters from its rankings for a year. The IBF would also take its title belt away from a champion fighting in the Olympics.

"Making this decision was not difficult for us," IBF president Daryl Peoples said. "We felt it was important for the IBF to get involved and take a stance against professional boxers competing against amateurs due to safety concerns, as part of our commitment to this sport is to promote the health and well-being of the boxers."

Prominent boxers not planning for Olympics

The International Boxing Association (AIBA) recently decided to allow professional boxers to attempt to qualify for Rio, but the organization's hopes for a tournament featuring big names have been unrealized to date. No prominent boxers have accepted the invitation, with just one Olympic qualifying event remaining in Venezuela next month.

The IBF's champions include heavyweight Anthony Joshua, light heavyweight Sergey Kovalev, middleweight Gennady Golovkin and welterweight Kell Brook. None of the fighters is considering an Olympic run, and Joshua has called the plan "dangerous."

While some fighters from both the pro and amateur ranks have spoken up in favour of the change, many more boxers and trainers have strongly condemned the plan, seeing danger in pitting seasoned pros against amateurs.

The WBC already announced its intention to impose a two-year ban on Olympic fighters within its upper rankings.

Although Olympic qualifying continues next month, the likelihood of any prominent pros fighting in Rio appears to be slim. Most major boxers have already decided not to attempt it, including Manny Pacquiao, Wladimir Klitschko, Kovalev, Golovkin, Andre Ward, Amir Khan and two-time gold medallists Vasyl Lomachenko and Zou Shiming.

Lomachenko believes the field will look much different at the Tokyo Games in 2020 when professionals have more time to adapt to the short rounds, frequent fights and daily weigh-ins of the Olympic-style sport.

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