Wednesday 21 February 2018

'I'd beat all of them' - Michael Conlan welcomes decision to allow pro boxers into Olympics

Michael Conlan celebrates winning gold at the AIBA World Boxing Championships last October
Michael Conlan celebrates winning gold at the AIBA World Boxing Championships last October Newsdesk Newsdesk

Reigning elite world champion Michael Conlan has greeted the news that professional boxers will be allowed to compete at the Olympics Games provided they qualify.

The 24-year-old is number one on the AIBA rankings and is hotly tipped to improve on the bronze medal he took home from London four years ago.

The potential inclusion of professionals will be decided upon by the national federations after 84 of the 88 delegates present at an extraordinary congress at Lausanne in Switzerland voted to make them eligible.

They are not expected to be given a wildcard to the Olympics and must therefore pursue qualification at a tournament scheduled for Venezuela in July.

Asked about the development, Conlan told BBC NI: "I welcome it. I love it. The only thing about it is that it does take away the amateur status from amateur boxing. I don't think you can call it amateur boxing anymore.

"I think AIBA are trying to get away from that anyway but it is the only sport in the games which remained amateur and I think people do want to see it like that.

"If professionals did come into the scene, it wouldn't bother me... I'd beat all of them."

Steven Donnelly, who will also represent Ireland in Rio, and is disappointed with the move although he does like the idea of boxing in the same division as boxing greats Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao.

"It kind of ruins amateur boxing, that's the pinnacle of amateur sport getting to the Olympics and it's hard to qualify," he said

"It takes away from the amateurs.

"I like the idea of Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao being in my weight division but once they hear I've qualified they might not want to enter."

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