Vijender Singh, the face of Indian boxing and the most popular professional boxer to come out of the country, may not be part of India’s contingent at the Rio Olympics. The International Boxing Association (AIBA) had on Wednesday changed the rules allowing the professionals to compete at the summer games.
Vijender, who turned pro last June, however, wants to concentrate on his professional career. But he did not rule out a possibility of changing his stance.
“I welcome AIBA’s decision to allow professional boxers to compete in Rio. I am yet to receive details. Since there is no federation in the country, I don’t know who will guide me on this entire thing,” said Vijender, who is supposed to fight for the WBO Asia title belt. The fight will be held on July 16 in New Delhi.
“Right now, I am concentrating on my July 16 title fight,” he said.
The road for professionals to qualify for the Rio Games will open and shut at the World Series of Boxing-AIBA Pro Boxing tournament that will be held in Venezuela next month from where a total of 26 quota places will be won. For the amateurs, however, the last qualifying tournament will be held in Baku, Azerbaijan from June 14.
The decision has received a mixed response.
Former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson called it “ridiculous and foolish” while Amir Khan, a silver-medallist at 2004 Olympics before turning professional a year later, said, “I would love to compete for Pakistan.”
Meanwhile, Manny Pacquiao, who had raised hopes that he may represent Philippines at Rio after retiring now, has backed off citing the need to devote more time to his political duties after getting elected as a senator.