Massive shake-up in boxing
More than 50 professional boxers will compete at the Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games in 2016.
International Boxing Association president Wu Ching-Kuo said this in London this week while the final of the World Series of Boxing season between Dynamo Moscow and Milano Thunder was taking place.
"Look at the Olympic programme of other sports like basketball, volleyball and handball; they have professionals. We are the only organisation that doesn't," Wu said.
Launched last year, the World Series of Boxing featured 12 city franchises this year, with teams of five competing against each other.
The final was staged in London's ExCel Centre, the venue for this year's Olympic Games boxing tournament.
Next year, an AIBA professional tournament will be launched. The boxers won’t wear vests or head guards and will receive regular salaries.
In Rio there will be 56 boxers from the Association of Professional Boxers and ten who will qualify through the world series individual finals, Wu said.
The APB, Wu's brainchild, would mean that boxers coming through the amateur ranks would not have to turn their back on the Olympic Games in their prime.
Any boxer earning a living as a professional in the APB would still be eligible to compete at the Olympics.
Previously, Olympic medallists such as Britain's Amir Khan, who won a silver in Athens in 2004 when he was still a teenager, quickly turned professional to cash in on their success.
"It will improve the quality of the boxing competition in the Olympic Games because the top boxers will be able to earn a good living without going down the normal route," said Wu, who took over the presidency of the AIBA in 2006.
"In the past, the best boxers from the Olympic Games and world championships were wasted by the professional bodies.”
Many talented boxers were entered into the wrong competitions and weights and were not successful. They could not return to amateur boxing and disappeared from the sport, he added.
Wu said the APB could even rival the appeal of professional organisations such as the WBA and WBC.
”I think there are many pro organisations," he said. "I think they will be watching what happens with the APB."
The Milano Thunder team won the world series title on Wednesday with Beijing heavweight silver medallist Clemente Russo as one of the members.
Next year the competition could be expanded to 16 teams, with Ukraine, Bulgaria and Argentina likely to be represented.