When the Olympics first accepted professional boxers five years ago, a lot of people didn't like the idea at all. And he still doesn't like it."It
When the Olympics first accepted professional boxers five years ago, a lot of people didn’t like the idea at all. And he still doesn’t like it.
“It complicates everything,” says Freddie Roach, a famous American coach. “I think you have to separate the two things. It’s not good for amateurs and I suspect it’s really bad for professionals. “
It was thought that the pros would make the amateurs mush and Roach and others saw no point in the rule change. Olympic boxing was always reserved for amateurs and launched the careers of great figures. The professional admission was intended simply to give some name boxers a gold medal and make the competition more attractive.
The presence of the pros is making itself felt among the 286 fighters who will fight at the Tokyo Olympics, but it has not been as strong as many anticipated.
36 men and seven women with professional experience came to Tokyo, a marked increase compared to the three professionals who were in Rio de Janeiro in 2016. Professionals represent 19% of the 186 male boxers and 7% of the women. In total, they are 15% of boxers.
In reality, almost all the professionals who came to Tokyo have little experience. Twenty-three of the 43 entries made fewer than three professional fights.
In fact, some turned professionals in the last year and are still considered amateurs. If they had competed in 2020, they would have done it as amateurs, but the games were postponed a year and now they are professional newcomers.
“Now that I turned pro, they are a more complete fighter and, fighting as an amateur, I have no pressure,” said American lightweight Keyshawn Davis, who made three professional fights in 2021.
Rather than being filled with bruised thirty-somethings, the Olympics seem to have given young fighters the possibility of keeping one foot on the amateur field and the other on the professional.
Only six boxers came to Tokyo with more than four professional fights, including three women. No male has more than nine rented fights.
“It’s a good way to give fighters a chance to make some money,” said New Zealand heavyweight David Nyika, who knocked out his rival in the first round when he made his professional debut in February after making 73 amateur fights. “It keeps me motivated and allows me to earn some money, after that 12-month delay.”
“I have been a professional amateur for seven years and I don’t think there are many professionals who can beat me in three rounds,” Nyika added.
Despite how little he likes the presence of professionals in the Olympic games, Roach adapts to the new times and has been working with the Filipino middleweight Eumir Marcial for a year, who turned professional seven months ago and hopes to give his country its first gold medal in any sport in Tokyo.
Marcial says he wants a lucrative professional career, but he also wants to fulfill his father’s dream of winning Olympic gold. And thanks to the new rules, he didn’t have to choose between professionalism and amateurism, as he used to.
“I think this works well for guys like Eumir, who have a few fights as pros,” said Sean Gibbons, president of Manny Pacquiao’s MP Promotions. “Other than that, it’s really ridiculous, especially if you are a seasoned professional or a world champion. They’ll say, ‘He fought guys.’
Fighting in both fields at the same time is not easy, as amateur boxing has very different rules, with three-round fights in which technical skills are prioritized.
The most renowned figure in boxing in Tokyo is the French Maïva Hamadouche, 31 years old and with 23 fights as a professional. She is the IBF super featherweight world champion since 2016 and qualified for the Olympics despite losing to Ireland’s Kellie Harrington in the quarter-finals of the European qualifying tournament.
“Amateur boxing is more technical and tactical. Professionals are often used to getting off, ”said Harrington. “In my fight with Hamadouche I used a lot of technique and she didn’t. That’s why I beat him. Amateur boxing is like an art. That’s why I prefer to see fights between amateurs and not between professionals ”.