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Carl Frampton: Keep Olympics for the amateur boxers

By Frank Brownlow

Carl Frampton has hit out at the decision to allow professionals to box at the Olympics.

The vote to allow pro boxers to fight at the Rio Olympics - which start on August 5 - took place at a meeting of the International Boxing Association in Switzerland yesterday.

But the Belfast professional, who gave up his WBA and IBF world super bantamweight titles to secure a crack at WBA featherweight champion Leo Santa Cruz in New York next month, feels the move makes a mockery of Olympic boxing.

Frampton said: "Amateur and professional boxing are two different sports. It's like a badminton player playing tennis.

"The best amateurs in the world would be able to compete with the top professionals in the shorter amateur format.

"Amateur boxing is like a sprint, while the pro game is more about endurance.

"But the whole thing just doesn't make sense."

But fellow Belfast boxer Michael Conlan, the world amateur bantamweight champion and tipped for gold in Rio, is in favour of the professionals going for Olympic glory.

Conlan, who took bronze at London 2012, said: "It wouldn't bother me, I'll beat all of them. I'm the best in the world anyway.

"It takes time to adjust to the amateurs. I'm the best at it and they (the pros) are not the best at it, simple as that.

"They'll be trying to beat me at my game, not their game. That's not going to happen."

Double Olympic bronze medallist Paddy Barnes - another tipped for Rio gold - also backed the move.

"I think it would be great. The top amateurs work very hard and would be a match for anyone," he said.

Hypothetically, the likes of Frampton - who never made it to the Olympics as an amateur - could now register with the IABA and make himself available for selection. But with his superfight against Santa Cruz in the offing, that simply isn't going to happen.

The decision means any professional can enter a qualifying event in Venezuela next month in an attempt to gain selection, with 26 places up for grabs.

Reacting to the vote, Irish Athletic Boxing Association President Pat Ryan said: "The IABA wishes to make it very clear that there will be no immediate changes in response to this vote, until there has been a full consultation with the relevant stakeholders within the organisation."

Most top professionals already have promotional contracts in place that would rule them out of the Olympics.

Meanwhile, Derry triathlete Aileen Reid was one of a further 16 competitors formally selected for the Games by the Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI) yesterday.

London 2012 gold medallist Katie Taylor increases the boxing contingent to seven, including four from Ulster - Conlan, Barnes, Steven Donnelly and Brendan Irvine.

OCI Chief Executive and Deputy Chef de Mission for Rio 2016, Ulsterman Stephen Martin - who won hockey gold with Team GB at Seoul in 1988 - said: "We continue to work with national federation high performance support teams, and the Institute of Sport, to ensure they have the best possible support to maximise their potential in Rio."

Belfast Telegraph


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