<
>

Rio Olympics and pro boxers? It's just fantasy

play
Bunce: 'Klitschko in Rio? That's hogwash' (2:44)

Steve Bunce says that the prospect of big name professionals in Rio is far-fetched, but Tokyo 2020 could be a different story. (2:44)

There was hysteria and confusion last week when the ruling by AIBA to allow every professional boxer on the planet the right to fight in the Olympics was announced.

But very few people seemed to read the small print and boxers have been made to look and sound ill-informed in their responses to the ruling.

The reality is that professional boxers have been boxing inside AIBA's two alternatives to the traditional amateur sport, World Series Boxing (WSB) and AIBA Pro Boxing (APB), since 2012; pros started to qualify for Rio last year. A French light-heavyweight called Mathieu Bauderlique is unbeaten in 10 as a professional, with five knockouts, and fighting inside APB he reached Rio last summer.

The boxers in WSB and APB fight between 5-10 rounds, without headguards and without vests. The sixth season of WSB came to an end last Saturday in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, when Cuba beat England 9-1. In Rio, I suspect that every gold and silver medal winner will be a veteran of either WSB or the APB. They are, trust me, professionals.

So what about "real" professionals, men such as Amir Khan, Wladimir Klitschko, Sergey Kovalev and Chris Eubank Jr? In the last seven days all of the above have talked about fighting in the Olympics, talked about it like it is an option on a multi-choice pamphlet. Well, it is not.

Kovalev, the unbeaten knockout king of the light-heavyweights, was heavily chastised by his promoter Kathy Duva when reports ran that he was thinking of fighting in Rio. "No chance," Duva said. "He has promotional commitments this summer and fights lined up. This is never going to happen."

It was claimed in British newspapers that Khan wanted to represent Pakistan in Rio, which would be fantasy upon fantasy. Khan is still serving a medical suspension following his knockout loss to Saul Alvarez. And there is also the little problem of the last Olympic qualifier.

The last qualifier is in Venezuela between July 3-8 and at that truly crazy event, the final places for Rio will be sorted when APB, WSB, ordinary amateurs and professionals of all levels converge for six days of mayhem. The date would appear to exclude Big Wlad's participation, as he is scheduled to get revenge in a rematch with Tyson Fury in Manchester on July 9. Still, he has Tokyo -- when he will be 44.

A few days ago Chris Eubank Sr made contact with team GB's boxing headquarters to ask about his son going to Rio. It was explained to Eubank that Britain had a middleweight and that he had already qualified. The fact never stopped Eubank from announcing 24-hours later that his son wanted to go to Rio. It was fantasy time, it really was. As expected, the news that Eubank Jr wanted to go to Rio was big news and, at the same time, not news at all.

OK, for a second, let's imagine that Eubank Jr could get to Venezuela and that he made the weight on the day before competition started. He would have to make the weight each day that he was scheduled to fight -- it would be a minimum of four and more likely five times. There is absolutely no way that Eubank could make the weight day after day. As I said, fantasy upon fantasy. A professional boxer, Floyd Mayweather aside, will gain 10 to 20 pounds between the weigh-in and the ring walk.

Antony Fowler, the British amateur who has qualified for Rio at middleweight, is a veteran of more than 20 tournaments where repeatedly making the weight is both compulsory and a boxer's big enemy. It would be good if Eubank's publicity stunt shone a bit of glitz on Fowler and the nine other British boxers that have so far kept their heads down and qualified for Rio.

Forget famous and infamous professionals fighting in Rio, but they will dominate in Tokyo when Olympic boxing will officially change forever.