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AIBA to scrap headguards for elite men's boxing at Rio de Janeiro Olympics

Updated: Thursday, 12 Jul 2012 13:26 | Comments

Irish amateurs Kenny Egan (pictured) and John Joe Nevin have been fighting in the World Series of Boxing without headguards
Irish amateurs Kenny Egan (pictured) and John Joe Nevin have been fighting in the World Series of Boxing without headguards

Headguards are set to be scrapped for the next Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro under new rules announced by amateur boxing's world governing body AIBA.

At their Executive Committee meeting in Bangkok, AIBA passed a motion to end the use of headguards in all their elite men's competitions from next year, although they will still be used by women and juniors.

The move follows AIBA's launch of World Series Boxing last year, in which privately owned teams with international rosters compete over a continental system for WSB team and individual titles.

The WSB includes two Irish boxers, one of whom, London Olympian John Joe Nevin, said: "It has helped me a lot. It has given me power and maturity.

"I know what the sport is all about now, and I know what it's like to fight punchers. I'm just concentrating on the Olympics, and I'll wait until after the Games and see what is the best option for me."

The governing body also clarified that some current professionals - predominantly those in the early stages of their careers - will be able to sign up for the APB series - and thus the next Olympics - subject to certain contractual issues.

AIBA president Dr Ching-Kuo Wu said: "In order to truly develop the APB ranking competitions with the best boxers around the world, APB will accept current professional boxers to join APB with limited terms and conditions.

"In addition, most importantly, we will allow these APB boxers to compete in the Olympic Games... and we plan to make this dream come true from the Rio 2016 Olympic Games."

In reality, while the move is unlikely to interest global bill-toppers, it will give an extra opportunity for novice professionals who are struggling for work in an era of reduced TV revenues and sponsorship.

It is unclear exactly how the year-long tournament will be implemented in terms of promotional and contractual issues, but AIBA have stressed all competing boxers must do so under the auspices of their respective national federations.

The competition will be split into three sections, with the world's top 20 in each division competing over 10 or 12 professional-style rounds, with less rounds at continental and national levels.

Continental and national-standard boxers - their level would depend on their world ranking - would compete over eight and six rounds respectively, or six or four rounds for title matches.

And the boxers will compete without vests or headguards.

Wu added: "With the launch of APB.. we will change the Technical and Competition rules for all of our programmes. This means that we aim to take headguards off in all elite men's competitions."

Wu's announcement is clearly designed to stop the exodus of the likes of Nevin to the professional ranks at the end of each Olympics cycle, and to challenge the role of the much-maligned so-called alphabet bodies as the sport's accepted arbiters.

Wu added: "I would like to change AIBA as the ultimate responsible body for the boxer's entire boxing career, including amateur and professional, and would like to give more opportunities to our boxers to compete.

"I am also deeply determined to change the image and reputation of our sport with transparency, popularity and social contribution by taking the responsibility of managing the destinies of the sport of boxing in all its forms."

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