New Delhi: The International Boxing Association (AIBA) may have thrown the Olympic door open for professional boxers but it is unlikely that Indian star Vijender Singh will be able to grab the opportunity even though he is keen to make it.
Professional boxers would be allowed to compete in the Olympic Games in August in Rio de Janeiro provided the decision is ratified at the AIBA Extraordinary Congress on June 1 when the proposal would be put to vote.
The plan is to allow pro boxers qualify for Rio via the AIBA-affiliated World Series of Boxing (WSB) and AIBA Pro Boxing (APB) events. Both events, originally scheduled for May, may be pushed to last week of June to give national federations time to send their entries.
“If given a chance, I would definitely try to qualify for the Olympics. Who would want to miss an opportunity, if it is there,” Vijender told PTI from Manchester, where he is training for his next pro fight on March 12 in Liverpool.
However, the question is whether there is a realistic opportunity of him giving it a shot. The 30-year-old middleweight is busy till June 11, when he makes his pro debut in India, fighting for the WBO Asia belt.
That India does not even have a national federation as of now is also an important factor given that the nominations for boxers in WSB and APB will be left to respective national bodies. And if India fails to put together a federation by March 31, there is a real chance of the country’s boxers being barred from the Olympics altogether.
Assuming that the situation would be resolved, what would be the scenario if India’s middleweight slot is booked by any other boxer — Vikas Krishan being a top contender — in the Asian Olympic Qualifiers later this month.
Weight and watch
It would be interesting to see if Vijender will compete in any other category even if he were to make space for a WSB or APB appearance. Together, the WSB and APB have 26 Olympic quota places on offer. When asked about this, Vijender said, “I don’t have any clarity on this as of now. Let’s see how things go. My stand is if there is an opportunity, I would try but if there is none, there is nothing that I can do.”
Indian Boxing Council President Brig PK Muralidharan Raja felt the move to let pro boxers into the Olympic fold will show results in the 2020 Games. “This Olympics is less than six months away, so I’m not sure how AIBA will put things together and ensure participation of top pro guys,” he said.
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