Barnes and Conlan welcome vote to include professionals

The Irish duo are unfazed by the decision to include professionals in Rio this summer

Paddy Barnes has no issue with the decision to include professionals in Rio. Photograph: Ian McNicol/Inpho

Paddy Barnes has no issue with the decision to include professionals in Rio. Photograph: Ian McNicol/Inpho

 

Paddy Barnes and Michael Conlan have welcomed the decision to allow professional boxers to compete at the Rio 2016 Games, but both Irish Olympians have expressed doubts over how many pro fighters will attempt to compete at the tournament.

The International Boxing Association (AIBA) yesterday formally ratified a change to their statutes, which will theoretically allow professional boxers to fight in Rio.

Irish Athletic Boxing Association (IABA) president Pat Ryan was among those present at the extraordinary congress in Lausanne, Switzerland where a reported 95 per cent of delegates voted for the motion.

Traditional divide

Notably, traditional ‘amateur’ or Olympic Boxing still takes place over three three-minute rounds, meaning bouts are usually contested at a faster pace than world-championship professional fights which last 12 rounds.

“It’s like a Grand National horse racing in a mile-long race against a horse that’s competing in the 1,000 Guineas – obviously the horse from the 1,000 Guineas is going to win,” said two-time Olympic medallist Barnes, dismissing the idea that professionals will find it easy competing against ‘amateur’ boxers.

Second Captains

Many pundits and former fighters such as Lennox Lewis have raised concerns about the safety of amateurs against professionals, but Belfast bantamweight Conlan – Ireland’s first-ever male world amateur champion – claimed he is offended by the suggestion.

“Some people still think it’s like the old days where the ‘amateurs’ were actually proper amateurs and they didn’t have any strength. That’s quite annoying because it’s insulting [modern] amateur fighters,” said Conlan, who trains full-time and is one of a number of elite amateur boxers on the Irish High Performance squad in receipt of Government funding via Sport Ireland.

“We’re more professional than the professionals with how hard we train. Even the strength and conditioning and the science behind it, we have more than a lot of professionals,” added the 24-year-old, whose views were echoed by 29-year-old Barnes.

“People are saying amateur boxers are going to get hurt and they’re novices . . . you can’t go to the Olympics if you’re a novice or if you’re a kid,” said Barnes.

“The only reason there’s so many knockouts in pro boxing is because the gloves are different from the amateur boxers’ ones that are spongy. These ‘knockout artists’ in the pro game wouldn’t knock out anyone in the amateurs.

“Also, for weigh-ins, professional boxers weigh in a day before the fight, amateur boxers weigh in on the day of the fight . . . There’s so many things in the amateur boxers’ favour,” added Barnes, who along with Conlan qualified for the Rio Games via AIBA’s semi-professional World Series of Boxing.

Yesterday’s vote means all ‘non-AIBA professional boxers’ under the age of 40 are now eligible to register with their national federations for the APB/WSB Olympic Qualification Tournament in Vargas, Venezuela next month if they comply with anti-doping regulations.

Irish professionals such as world champion Carl Frampton criticised the change, but, in reality, it seems unlikely to have any major impact on this summer’s Games in Rio.

Seven Irish boxers have qualified for Rio, while four more still have a chance to book their places this month.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.