Even on the local front, personages from professional boxing lashed out at the decision of the AIBA to allow pros to fight in the Olympics, starting with Rio this August, citing the difference in skills and experience and safety as primary reasons for their disapproval.
Two-time world title champion Gerry Peñalosa, an amateur standout himself, told the Bulletin that “even the best amateur in the world can get beat by an eight-rounder in the pro ranks.”
“What more if you pit an amateur against an elite professional like Manny Pacquiao?” said Peñalosa.
Pacquiao, an eight-division champion, has turned down the request to fight for the Philippines during the Aug. 5 to 21 sportsfest in Rio de Janeiro, saying he will need to focus on his legislative duties being a newly elected senator.
The AIBA gave the green light for pros to fight in the Olympics during an assembly Wednesday in Lausanne, Switzerland.
“The amateurs aren’t used to getting hit often because the referee tends to stop a fight before someone gets hurts real bad,” said Peñalosa.
When told that the amateurs are programmed to fight for three fast-paced rounds, Penalosa brushed it off.
“The best pros can easily adapt to that.”
Michael Aldeguer, the country’s premier promoter, believes bringing in the pros is “totally unfair” and “dangerous” as well.
“I am also concerned with the well-being of the fighter because it is a contact sport unlike other sports.”
But what concerns Aldeguer the most is the one that hits the essence of the Olympic spirit.
“It could take away the dream of the young ones who dream of Olympic glory as world champions who have earned millions will prey on the poor young amateurs who may not taste the glory anymore ever,” added Aldeguer, whose ALA Boxing Club in Cebu City houses young fighters as young as nine.
Reigning world light-flyweight king Donnie Nietes was also very much against it.
“Olympic boxing is for the young fighters, the amateurs who dream of winning a medal,” said Nietes, who is coming off the ninth defense of the WBO 108-lb crown.
But incoming agriculture secretary Manny Piñol, formerly a Bulletin deskman and sports columnist and boxing analyst, has a different take even though he admits that the pros have an overwhelming advantage.
“But that’s competition and in sports we always want to find out who’s the best, right?”
“So, I would have loved to see Pacquiao in the Olympics because he would have been a sure gold medal for us,” said Piñol, noting that Pacquiao’s combination of paralyzing power, blinding speed and volume-punching would be too much for the opposition.
Still, Peñalosa thinks even winning a gold medal wouldn’t further enhance Pacquiao’s image.
“Gold medal? Manny has a lot of gold in his house,” added Peñalosa.
Courtesy of Nick Giongco of the Manila Bulletin. Follow Nick on Twitter @NickSpeaks