The boxing betting terms ‘favorite’ and ‘underdog’ may take a whole new meaning at the Rio Summer Olympic Games in August. The International Boxing Association (AIBA) has voted to let any boxer who wants to try and qualify and get selected for their respective national teams next month. AIBA has been criticized by the likes of Oscar de la Hoya and Mike Tyson for attempting to mix apples and oranges. Golden Boy and Iron Mike, voices of reason – how do you like them apples? Manny Pacquiao was set to compete in Rio but ultimately preferred to focus on the political ring, after having been elected a Philippine senator. Good call, Manny. Even his manager thought it was an ill-advised idea.
People who bet on boxing should not concern themselves about mismatched fights just yet, though. Four-and-eighty federations gave the rule change the go-ahead less than 10 weeks before the first fights take place in Rio. With only a couple of months to go before the Olympics, it’s highly unlikely that many pros will take advantage of the new ruling. AIBA’s idea is for prize fighters to start getting ready today for Tokyo 2020. Just in case, however, an Olympic qualifying tournament in Venezuela next month will allot a total of six-and-twenty entries.
While most people think that allowing pros in the Olympics would make matches unfair and even dangerous for amateurs – though a lot more fun for boxing betting fans – the aforementioned Tyson actually believes that some professionals would get beaten by the faster, more agile amateurs – you know, “float like a bee, sting like a butterfly;” the old “soap-on-a-rope,” and whatnot. The three-round system would favor amateurs, though amateur competition is edging closer to the pro style; at Rio, a 10-point must system scoring and no headgear will be implemented for the first time. AIBA spokesperson Nicolas Jomard agreed, saying that the disparity of level is a misjudgment – the whole boxing betting, favorite/underdog mentality. In other words, it would be like being selected to play for the boys' team in the rugby match against the masters. Moreover, less money and more tests would repel most professional boxers anyway.
But let’s look on the bright side. If they allow pros now, maybe in the future they will even allow other disciplines; boxing, karate, MMA, jiu jitsu, wrestling – it would be just like the Kumite; fans who bet on boxing like they died and went to boxing betting heaven. In addition to that, with qualifying open to anybody, we could see some Cool Runnings, Blades of Glory-style hijinks ensue. AIBA president CK Wu said that it’s hard to estimate a number, but some pros will want to qualify. You just know that, wherever he is, Floyd Mayweather is already giving this some serious thought.