Boxing head expects judges in '16

LONDON -- The president of amateur boxing's governing body expects to replace the sport's computerized scoring system with the traditional professional judging system before the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Wu Ching-Kuo told The Associated Press it's all part of his plan for Olympic boxing to look more like the pro game. AIBA intends to move to the pros' 10-point scoring system, which takes into account every aspect of fighters' skills, not solely their ability to land clean punches.

"We are on the way," Wu said. "It's better for the boxers. That competition style (means) everything, the whole aspect, is added together. The winner should be the better boxer."

The eventual move will trigger a fundamental shift in an amateur sport that has withered in the U.S. and other countries where pro boxing dominates. Olympic boxers will no longer be able to train merely to master the quirks of the computerized system, which records a point when a majority of ringside judges push a button indicating a fighter connected with a punch.

That system has been widely criticized for warping the sport into something resembling fencing with gloves, de-emphasizing everything from body punches -- which don't usually yield many points -- to ring control and even fighters' charisma.

Olympic boxing could look much different in Rio. AIBA also has considered getting rid of headgear for its men's fights, and Wu is determined to significantly increase the number of women's boxers in Rio after cramming just 36 into the highly successful debut tournament in London.

The changes in the scoring system will require significant re-training of referees and judges, but Wu believes it can be done well before Rio.

"It is on the way," Wu said. "I will do everything from a good concept, but we must evaluate properly, not rush. If you get (a change) started, it is difficult to come back. We always start with very good consideration, very good evaluation, and once we start, we will not go back from that."

The amateur sport moved to a computerized scoring system in the wake of Roy Jones Jr.'s infamously unfair loss to a South Korean opponent in a gold-medal bout at the 1988 Seoul Games. Three of the five ringside judges voted for Park Si-hun in the simple majority vote that decided amateur bouts at the time.

Wu already has implemented the 10-point system in the World Series of Boxing, the 2-year-old professional team boxing league operated by AIBA in its growing efforts to influence the sport at every level. Late next year, AIBA will debut APB, a professional boxing series that already has signed a large number of elite amateur fighters to participate in regular cards with salaries, insurance and Olympic eligibility.

AIBA's new professional ventures consume much of Wu's time these days, but he's also focused on improving the Olympic sport's refereeing and judging. This far-flung sport draws its officials from all corners of the world, yet they don't all see it the same way.

"When you look at the current judges, some of them qualified before I took over," Wu said. "A different continent, a different examiner. Now we want to try to bring them together. Their minds may not be standardized, because when they qualified, there was no such vision regarding this. So when I took over, I said, 'They have to standardize. They have to receive the training."