Carl Froch does not see the Olympic Games as a place for professional boxers

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Football News

Carl Froch has criticised the move to allow professional boxers to compete at the Rio 2016 Olympics, believing it would reduce the "prestige" involved in winning a gold medal.

The retired world champion does not, however, consider it to be a dangerous development, insisting the best amateurs are capable of beating their professional counterparts in the amateur format.

At an extraordinary congress on Wednesday, the International Boxing Association (AIBA) voted in favour of the motion to grant professional fighters eligibility for the Olympics - as Press Association Sport reported it would in February.

The World Boxing Council and British Boxing Board of Control have been critical, but it will be for each country's national federations to choose whether this is something they wish to pursue. GB Boxing oversees Great Britain's Olympic boxing programme, and has refused to rule out exploring the option of taking a professional fighter to Rio.

However, it will only do so in the event it does not qualify fighters for the two remaining places at a qualification event in Baku, Azerbaijan, from June 14. It has already secured 10 fighters' places for Rio, and remains confident two more - at light-welterweight and welterweight - will imminently join them.

AIBA is to stage a further qualifying event in Vargas, Venezuela from July 3-8, when 26 quota places will be available for Rio. It is there that national federations can register professionals in the pursuit of qualification.

"I feel it's better being left to the amateurs," Froch, 38, told Press Association Sport. "I still sort of regret when I look back, not qualifying for the Olympics. (But) If I went to the Olympics now as a professional, it wouldn't feel right, wouldn't feel the same.

"I'm not sure any top professional, who's got a chance of becoming a champion, earning a lot of money, would want to join the amateurs.

"You're going to get the odd one, but any current pro, who's desperate to be a world champion, would they want to risk going to the Olympics for a three-round format?

"Overall, it's a bad move. It takes the prestige away from winning a gold medal in the Olympics. It doesn't feel right for me."

Among the reactions to the development have been concerns it would be a dangerous move to match relatively-inexperienced amateurs against proven professionals.

Before retiring, Froch continued to train with the GB amateur squad in Sheffield - where his one-time trainer Rob McCracken is performance director. He therefore experienced the finest amateurs' talent and how difficult it can be for a professional to adjust to the intense demands of three three-minute rounds, instead of the steadier up-to-12-round professional format.

"It's not (easy)," he said. "A lot of top world champions would get beaten by top amateurs. It's a simple as that: it's not long enough. How many times have I had a professional world championship defence, and I'm three or four rounds down before I've got started?

"A lot of top pros may not do well at the Olympics. I spar with Antony Fowler, who's just qualified for the Olympics, and for two or three rounds I literally don't get near him. I'll walk onto his right hand, and he can punch a bit.

"Perhaps round four I start to turn it around and get into it, and then the spar's over. Somebody like Fowler would probably beat me. I wouldn't want to take the risk, to be honest.

"I'm not so sure (somebody could get hurt) because it's three three-minute rounds. I don't think it's any more dangerous: there's no headguards anymore in the amateurs. I've trained and sparred with many top amateurs: honestly they hold their own, all of them.

"The amateurs are more suited to succeeding at the Olympics, and winning medals. I think Rob will probably stay loyal to the amateurs, and in my opinion that's the best decision. Why take a gamble on a pro?

"Who are you going to take? A professional boxer that's rough and tough, or an amateur boxer with bags of international amateur boxing experience, and (of) how to score on the scoring system, to impress the judges?"

Discussing GB Boxing's stance, a spokesman said: " Our efforts are focused on preparing for the next qualification event when we hope to qualify the remaining two places.

"(If those two boxers do not qualify) we will look at the decision to change the rules governing the eligibility of professional boxers competing in AIBA sanctioned competitions as part of our selection process.

"Selection for the final Olympic qualifier in early July will be based on the views of GB Boxing's Performance Team who will pick the boxers they believe are most likely to be successful and meet the qualification criteria for Rio."

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