Yesterday AIBA ruled that any boxer will be allowed to participate in the upcoming Rio Olympics if they qualify, according to a landslide vote. Out of the 88 federations who came to Lausanne yesterday for the single-issue meeting, 84 of them voted their approval, with four abstaining.
So yes, this vote officially paves the way for professional boxers to compete the the upcoming summer Olympic games only 10 weeks before the first Olympic fights.
Manny Pacquiao was the most notable name thrown about as a potential participant for the Philippines, but he ultimately declined his wild card invitation. That, of course, hasn't curbed the criticism of AIBA's move by those who believe that allowing professionals to compete in a combat sport against amatuers is quite dangerous. But this sentiment is a misguided one according to AIBA spokesman Nicholas Jomard.
"AIBA boxers have gone through a stringent qualification," Jomard said. "So they're the best around. A lot of them have already sparred with some of these professionals. So the disparity of level, the boys against men tonality, is a misjudgment. All the talk of disparity of level is just not true."
Jomard asserts on behalf of AIBA that amateurs boxers benefit from their quickness and a three-round format that their accustomed to. Speaking for myself, I don't believe that amateur boxers are really quicker than professional fighters as a whole. Amateurs are just trained to throw punches in bunches in a short time based on an old point scoring system -- something a trained professional should be able to adjust to fairly easily with proper training I would think.
That aside, it's not expected that many professional fighters will be able to qualify for this upcoming Olympics on such short notice, but the long-term plan is to let fighters know they can start aiming for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.