AIBA Pro Boxing (APB) managing Director Mirko Wolf on Friday defended the world body's decision to allow professional boxers in the Olympics, saying that concerns raised about pugilists' safety and mismatch in competition are baseless.
The International Boxing Association (AIBA) opened the Olympic doors for pro boxers after an Extraordinary Congress in Lausanne earlier this month.
The decision was met with mixed reactions with well-known pro names such as Lennox Lewis and Mike Tyson saying that the move is stupid and even dangerous.
"I have been a boxer myself. I don't think there is much a of difference. All these concerns about amateurs being put in danger are not true. We have all seen Vijender, does he look very different from his amateur days? So it's the same for other guys. I think pros who are opposed to it are actually worried about something else," Wolf told PTI.
"They are scared that if they lose to an amateur, their reputation would be gone. Their worth will go down. If suppose, somebody worth a million dollars goes down to an amateur, his worth will be affected. His market value would hit rock bottom," he said.
Justifying further, Wolf said having pros in the Olympics would lead the best in the business getting top positions.
"Right now there are so many different world champions. I can't name them in one go, it is so confusing but by having the best of amateurs and pros in the Olympics, the world will get to see the best in the circuit," he said.
A former professional boxer himself, who finished his career undefeated, Wolf said there was hardly anything different in the pro and amateur circuit barring the number of rounds.
"From my experience, I can tell you it's not that huge a difference. Yes, amateur is three rounds and pro is 12 rounds but that's about it. I don't think an amateur is any less than a pro. So all this talk is baseless," he said.
"Anybody who says amateurs would be demolished, I ask, is Olympic qualification easy? It's definitely not. Qualifying is very very tough. So these guys are tough, they can handle any pro. Isn't it beautiful to have a unified champion in a weight category at the Olympics?" he said.